by Chris Braly
Ever since Marvel Senior Executive Sana Amanat proclaimed that Marvel was becoming a “lifestyle brand,” more and more evidence of what she was referring to is coming to light. The latest is the recent embarrassment in the form of a cooking show. That’s right. Marvel Comics is now streaming a cooking series that everyone can binge. It’s called “Eat the Universe” and it has nothing to do with Spider-Man, X-Men, or really comic books at all other than the occasional jokey reference to some long forgotten characters or merely naming the recipe after a character.
In my opinion, it doesn’t really cut the mustard.
Yes, it is a ridiculous as it sounds.
Marvel Entertainment hosts a Youtube channel, which has 7.9 million subscribers. The premiere episode of Eat the Universe posted April 7, 2018 and still only has 54K views and 108 comments. That’s not very impressive. The cooking series was launched the same day that Marvel New Media announced an all-new schedule of digital series featuring a variety of programming. These new digital series included relaunched versions of This Week in Marvel and Women of Marvel; and new series like Earth’s Mightiest Show, Marvel’s Voices, Marvel’s Eat the Universe and Marvel’s first-ever scripted podcast Wolverine: The Long Night (if fans are willing to pay the $4.99 monthly subscription fee to Stitcher.com).
None of these seem to really be my cup of tea, but I will eat my hat if any of them turn out to be a hit.
Marvel New Media, which is a division of Marvel Entertainment, says the purpose of these shows is to focus on producing content from ALL ASPECTS of the Marvel Universe, including breaking Marvel news, non-fiction storytelling, original digital series, podcasts, and other interactive content to reach fans with various interests. Could a home improvement program be far behind? How about a talent contest show?
“Marvel New Media is focused on nurturing a more intimate and approachable relationship with both our super fans and casual fans by embracing and refreshing Marvel’s fundamental brand attributes, and by redefining how those fans experience the Marvel Universe across all platforms,” said Dan Silver, vice president, head of platforms and content for Marvel New Media. “As we launch and expand these new digital series, we will be introducing fans to a whole new perspective of the brand to reflect the core values of Marvel, our heroes, and extending into the real-life Super Heroes that inspire us every day.”
The “real life superheroes that inspire us everyday” seems like something that Sana Amanat came up with. How popular is the cooking show? Well after 3 & a half months of being online, it’s received 54k views. For comparison sake, here’s a screen shot of several other amateur cooking shows on Youtube. Most either have a similar amount of views, or far more. Not actually setting the cooking world on fire.
Even amateur Youtube cooking shows are far, far more popular than this show. In fact, none of these Marvel Youtube shows are putting up respectable numbers. Douglas Ernst has noted that Marvel’s editor in chief, C.B. Cebulski, has always acted more like a Japanese “Iron Chef” than a man on a mission to sell as many comic books as possible.
This is a real problem. Marvel is truly trying to be a lifestyle brand instead of what they’ve always done best… make great comics and tell great stories. Maybe if they poured this amount of energy and resources into making their comics division better, other than farming out their most popular IPs to other comic publishers, they could turn the current comics sales slump around. I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
(too many food puns?)