cover image MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios

MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios

Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales, and Gavin Edwards. Liveright, $35 (528p) ISBN 978-1-63149-751-3

Trial By Content podcasters Robinson and Gonzales team up with journalist Edwards (The Tao of Bill Murray) to deliver a superb chronicle of how Marvel Studios conquered Hollywood. Drawing on interviews with more than 100 Marvel personnel, from studio president Kevin Feige and star Chris Hemsworth to hairstylists and set designers, the authors flesh out the oft-told story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s humble beginnings with lesser-known anecdotes, noting, for example, that the studio chose Iron Man to head its inaugural outing based on a focus group’s findings that the superhero was the character children “would most want to play with as a toy.” The authors excel at illuminating the behind-the-scenes drama that shaped the MCU, most notably Feige’s uphill battle to introduce a diverse cast of superheroes against the wishes of parent company Marvel Entertainment, “who preferred for Marvel’s heroes to be played by young white men named Chris” because they believed such actors would sell the most toys. There’s fascinating trivia on every page (for instance, Daniel Craig was a front-runner for the part of Thor), and the authors maintain an evenhanded perspective, celebrating the studio’s successes while calling out its missteps, namely the MCU’s lack of direction after 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. This definitive account of the Hollywood juggernaut thrills. (Oct.)