AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, featuring two characters created by GDC client Roy Thomas, has grossed more than $600 million around the world in its first ten days.
The long-awaited Avengers: Age of Ultron opened to movie theaters around the world and with it the spotlight is on the legendary comics creator Roy Thomas, the co-creator of the titular villain Ultron and the breakout hero the Vision. The sequel, which took in more than $180 million at the domestic box office over the weekend, is one of many film and television projects featuring characters and concepts that Thomas created during his decades-long career as a comic book writer and editor.
The Hollywood Reporter puts Thomas’ influence well in context and goes on to cover his transition from fan to “pro” and some of the major media characters and concepts he went on to create:
Stan Lee is the face of the Marvel Universe, but its summer crown jewel wouldn’t exist without Roy Thomas… in 1965, Thomas was just a 20-something comic book superfan from Missouri who walked into Lee’s office looking for a job. He was already working as an assistant at DC, where he was miserable. Lee hired him on the spot. It was a good hire. Thomas went on to co-create Ultron and The Vision in the pages of Avengers in 1968 and also created a number of Marvel mainstays, including Adamantium (you are welcome, Hugh Jackman), Iron Fist (coming to Netflix soon) and Yellow Jacket (the villain played by CoreyStoll in the upcoming Ant-Man).
Roy Thomas was also interviewed in Rolling Stone magazine for their April 24 issue. In a Hulk-themed issue, Thomas and Rolling Stone’s Brian Hiatt discuss the early history of Marvel’s green giant, the roles of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in creating the character, and how Marvel is now compensating the original creators of characters when they’re used in movies and television.
Three newspapers in South Carolina, where Thomas lives with his wife (and frequent collaborator) Dann, carried interviews with the legendary writer. The Times and Democrat featured a photo of Thomas at the Hollywood premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron and The State quoted him as happy to go the premiere but that “I can’t wait to see it in an IMAX theater in 3D with a big tub of popcorn.” The weekly Free Times made note of Roy’s long run as writer of Avengers comics as well as his influence on two other hugely popular fictional franchises, Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian:
Thomas penned about 70 of the first 100 issues of Avengers, the superhero team-up that has since spawned one of the biggest franchises in film history — Variety reports that Age of Ultron, which opens in the U.S. on Friday, grossed $201.2 million in its first weekend internationally. He also spearheaded the ’70s and ’80s adaptation of Star Wars that buoyed Marvel during a rough financial patch and helped launch the series that popularized Conan the Barbarian.
The Hollywood Reporter story (and others, including Mashable and the Rolling Stone interview) went on to detail the history of the creation of The Vision by Thomas and artist John Buscema. Introduced in Avengers #57 (October, 1968), the super-powered android has been a mainstay of the Avengers ever since. Played by Paul Bettany in the new film the Vision is being called breakout character of the year’s biggest movie.
This is not the first time that Thomas’ characters have graced the screen and it won’t be the last. Netflix will be featuring two of Thomas’ characters in upcoming Marvel-produced series: his martial arts creation (with Gil Kane) Iron Fist, which has been the subject of recent casting speculation in scores of online articles; and Luke Cage, “Hero For Hire”, which Thomas created with Lee, Archie Goodwin, John Romita Sr., and George Tuska. Marvel Studios has also recently hired writers for Captain Marvel, their first female-headlining movie, to be released in 2018. Captain Marvel’s alter-ego, former Air Force officer Carol Danvers, was originally created by Thomas and artist Gene Colan in 1968. A reboot of Red Sonja, the “She-devil with a sword”, which Thomas co-created (with Barry Windsor-Smith) is in the works, having recently hired a new screenwriter. Another 1980s film project, Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi’s animated fantasy Fire and Ice, for which Thomas co-wrote the screenplay, is being developed by Robert Rodriguez. Some of Thomas’ other characters and concepts that have been brought to film and television screens include the Quinjets, the Marvel universe’s fantastic flying vehicles used by the Avengers and the Agents of SHIELD (and now on toy shelves everywhere), the Irish hero Banshee (with artist Werner Roth), featured in 2011’s X-Men: First Class, the Japanese X-Man Sunfire (with Iron Man co-creator Don Heck), who was featured on the anime Avengers: Disk Wars, and was the original leader of Big Hero 6) and perhaps the most popular comic book hero of modern times, Wolverine, whom Thomas created with Romita Sr., Len Wein, and Herb Trimpe.
Roy Thomas will mark fifty years writing comics in 2015, and he hasn’t slowed down. He will pen a new Red Sonja story for Dynamite Publishing’s upcoming Red Sonja #1973 and continues to work on the Amazing Spider-man syndicated comic strip. He was also recently honored with two Eisner Award nominations: “Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism” for his work editing the magazine Alter Ego, published by TwoMorrows; and “Best Comics-Related Book” for authoring the well-received over-sized hardcover for Taschen, 75 Years of Marvel Comics: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen. His three creator-owned series with Heroic Publishing, Anthem, Captain Thunder and Blue Bolt, and Alter Ego, are available in digital format from Comixology, ComicsPlus, Amazon, and through Heroic’s website. Thomas’ extensive back catalog of comics are being rapidly collected and released regularly to the book market, with more than a dozen titles scheduled to be released in the first half of 2015, including collections of Avengers, Star Wars, X-Men, Elric, Warlock, and Sub-Mariner.