Marvel Studios Director of Development Brad Winderbaum Talks All Things MCU Phase One

Marvel Studios  Director of Development Brad Winderbaum Talks All Things MCU Phase One

Winderbaum on becoming the caretaker of the MCU timeline, crafting the blu-ray One-Shots and the special features on all your favorite Marvel films. Plus, he hints that the General Ross/Tony Stark end credits scene was originally meant to be in The Avengers.

He started out as a runner/P.A. and now Brad Winderbaum is producing Marvel shorts and is the man responsible for keeping track of Marvel's continuity and the MCU timeline. As a producer, he was responsible for a lot of fan favorite moments including the Iron Man 2 blu-ray extras and the SDCC 2010 Marvel booth which brought Odin's Throne and the big reveal of the entire Avengers cast. I've transcribed the interesting bits below but I encourage you to listen to the full audio interview as well, good stuff in there.

(l,r) Jesse Bradford, Louis D'Esposito, Lizzy Caplan, Maximiliano Hernández and Brad Winderbaum

*Winterbaum speaks by way of the THIS WEEK IN MARVEL Podcast

What does his title [Director of Development] mean?
Brad: We've got library of 8,000+ characters that we can develop into feature films and what I do is work with writers and look at the early stages of these characters and see what's there that can be adapted into a movie.

On developing the MCU- the point where it started coming together.
Brad: When I first came on board, there was a timeline that was literally like six bullet points. It was when did Howard Stark live, when did the Incredible Hulk happen in context to Iron Man 2, when did the events of Captain America- the cosmic cube element happen. From there, I actually built up the timeline based on things we knew from the Thor and Captain America drafts and from Iron Man 1 and Incredible Hulk. I became the kind of de facto continuity manager for Kevin [Feige]. And it was amazing, the minute we put it on paper, it all started to fit in locks and that's when we had the idea that this stuff happened on top of each other. So Hulk universe is going to happen more or less simultaneously with Stark Expo. We didn't know it at the time but we kind of figured it out later when [Agent] Coulson's involvement became one of the major elements of the Thor plot, that the battle in Puerto Antigua is going to happen during again, Stark Expo. Once we put it down in a timeline form, we knew this was going to work. We were going to have all these guys live and breathe in the same universe and in some respects, it's actually a simpler timeline than the Marvel Universe proper because there's only a small number of elements (right now) but it's exponential. Once you bring in one element, it buts up against the rest. We take [it] very seriously, the minute we diverge from the continuity, it's no longer a universe, it's no longer a single, coherent story. It's been a lot of fun, some arguments but mostly just a great time building this universe. The timeline is published in our Avengers book.

On the specific lynchpins that define the continuity of the MCU.
Brad: One is the newscast from Culver University that's happening during the meeting of Tony Stark and Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man 2. And the timing of Coulson leaving Iron Man 2 and arriving in New Mexico. Both those things if you look at them in the greater timeline are kind of the binding elements that show you that these things are happening right on top of each other. The other fun thing we did was we used Tony Stark saying 'I am Iron Man' as the definitive 'point-zero' for the timeline so everything in time is seconds, days, years, millenia before-or-after that pinnacle moment.

On how he got involved with the Marvel One-Shots:
Brad: When I came back to the company, it was immediately something that Kevin wanted to do. It's one of these things where we would love to do theatrical shorts but it's an expensive proposition, there's a lot of people that we have to prove that it's profitable to. When we were talking about it, I did a lot of research with Charlotte Koh who was here at the time, we realized that it made more sense to release them on blu-ray because home entertainment is trending away from physical media and more towards streaming downloads so there's a push to aid the falling sales of the physical discs. We looked at the animation titles we were releasing, ancillary content that tied directly into the films. Pixar's been doing it for years....with Disney, we saw their research which proved that it helps sales. Then we got to be creative...we wanted to give Coulson a hero moment on the way to The Avengers. We marched everyone out on stage at SDCC 2010, everyone was hero, you've seen them all kick-ass in their various adventures and Coulson at that point kicks a little bit of ass in Thor but really just gets blown up by The Destroyer. We wanted to show that he's a hero too, he deserved to be on that stage with the rest of them. He may not have super powers but he's awesome.

On the Consultant:
Brad: We knew what we were going to do with The Avengers...we wanted to work the idea that General Ross was being consulted by the World Security Council to try and get Abomination on the team...but it never fit into the script. It never really felt like a coherent part of the movie.

His involvement with crafting the featurettes and behind-the-scenes stuff on blu-rays and box sets:
Brad: Behind the scenes (footage) serves a lot of functions. It becomes marketing material before the movie comes out, it's sizzle reels and sales tools for people internally at Marvel who are partnering up with other companies. My favorite use of the footage is the behind the scenes features on blu-ray. The reason I like those the most is because that's when you really get to pull the curtain back and see the nuts and bolts of what goes in to making these movies. For marketing materials, you have to be really vague. Before the movie comes out we don't want it to look like a movie, we want it to look like real life. We want you to believe that a man in an iron suit can fly. But after you see a movie you want to see how the heck they got that guy to fly. It's a really fun part of the job putting that stuff together.

Brad was responsible for this moment at SDCC 2010.

This scene was originally in The Avengers before it became a focal point for the Consultant One-Shot.

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The Avengers is an American superhero film produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. It is the sixth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is written and directed by Joss Whedon and features an ensemble cast, which includes Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson. In The Avengers, Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America to save the world from destruction.

Development of The Avengers began when Marvel Studios received a grant from Merrill Lynch in April 2005. After the success of the film Iron Man in May 2008, Marvel announced that The Avengers would be released in July 2011. With the signing of Scarlett Johansson in March 2009, the film was pushed back for a 2012 release. Whedon was brought on board in April 2010 and rewrote the screenplay that was originally written by Zak Penn. Production began in April 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio in August 2011 and New York City in September 2011. The film was converted to 3D in post-production.

The Avengers was released in the United States on May 4, 2012 in 2D and 3D.

Running Time: 2 hrs 23minutes
Release Date: May 4 2012 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG 13 for for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, and language
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, Cobie Smulders, Jeremy Renner, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgård, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson and Lou Ferrigno The Incredible Hulk (voice) .
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written by: Zak Penn (initial screenplay), Joss Whedon (revised screenplay)

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