Carl embraces the characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Adam Bray’s superb Marvel Studios Character Encyclopedia from DK Books.
I adore reference books depicting movies and Television. Every time I’m writing an article and maybe need a brush up on my knowledge or need to check my facts, there’s always at least one I can rely on. Most come out on a yearly basis, offering an updated version of what’s gone before. Some can be described as cash grabbers, designed to catch the eye and separate us from our hard earned cash. However, with the yearly Star Wars updated encyclopedias and Marvel’s volumes, you are guaranteed to get an enthralling, deserving book to grace your home libraries, as well as a well thought through new edition.
Marvel Studios Character Encyclopedia | By Adam Bray
DK Books have launched this year’s updated edition of the Marvel Studios Character Encyclopedia. Wonderfully written by Adam Bray, this is a must have for any Marvel fan. Each and every hero has their own section devoted to their particular film series. We open the front cover to be greeted by a double spread of Iron Man flying through the clouds. Turn the page and Ant-Man says hello to us, sitting proudly riding a flying ant. We turn the page again to be met with the contents pages. Every character is listed with the main participants in their world. Pages 6 to 27 are devoted to Iron Man. From Tony Stark himself and his technological creation through to the villains who have appeared in his three solo outings on film, the book spares us no small point. Investigating the Iron Man suit and discovering its capabilities alongside Stark himself and his ‘Heart’, we learn about the technology Stark has developed for his alter-ego and some of his friends. We learn about War Machine and the Iron Patriot. We delve into Stark’s relationships with Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan. And we discover facts about Stark’s adversaries including Obadiah Stane, Whiplash, Justin Hammer and The Mandarin to name but a few. Each is presented in full colour with all the facts we require to get inside their character.
Pages 30 to 51 bring us face to face with the Norse god himself, Thor. Again, we are treated to full-colour photographs and intriguing information about the Asgardian and his friends, family and numerous evil characters that inhabit his world. Every character from his three standalone films is here, looking at us, inviting us to discover more about them.
The legendary Captain America greets us next from pages 54 to 77. Steve Rogers and his company are all present and correct. We delve into Rogers’ world from before the fateful day he met the super soldier serum. We read about the aftermath of the experiment that turned a relatively small, puny man into the all-powerful superhero we know and love. We discover about ‘Bucky’ Barnes from both periods, from WWII and his re-emergence as ‘The Winter Soldier’. We uncover Cap’s heart that lies beneath the suit and his love for Peggy Carter. We get the inside look at Cap’s enemies and their nefarious schemes and desires.
The Avengers stand tall from pages 80 to 101. This section doesn’t contain any further information regarding Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, this section is devoted to the other members of the team and its S.H.I.E.L.D administrators. Of course, Nick Fury and Maria Hill open this section for us, just as they should. Nick Fury IS S.H.I.E.L.D personified and it’s only proper that he greets us and guides us through this section. Bruce Banner and his alter-ego, The Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Vision and Spider-Man make their bows here. I can see why some of our heroes appear in this section but it would have been better if Spidey and Hulk got their own sections in the book, considering their cinematic outings over the years. However, they are welcome additions to this section nonetheless. Alongside the heroes stand the villains out to destroy them. Of course, Loki isn’t here, he’s too busy pestering Thor in his own section. However, we are treated with the ultimate big bad in Thanos. However, I can’t help but be dismayed at the non-appearance of Baron Zemo from the entire book. He should rightfully appear in the Captain America section but he’s conspicuous by his absence here. But to negate this oversight, there are plenty of other villains in the gallery to keep the reader happy.
The Guardians Of The Galaxy, that miserable bunch of A-Holes fly in from pages 104 to 121. Star-Lord, Gamora and the crew make their appearance and remind us what a ragtag bunch they are. But we love them all the same. their allies and enemies grace the pages, showing us that not all the Marvel worlds are wonderful and peaceful. To be honest, like the others before them, we love the characters due mainly due to the actors and actresses that portray them on the screen. Chris Pratt slips on Peter Quill‘s persona effortlessly and we can’t ever see anyone else playing the character. Yondu is a wonderful character who sadly made the ultimate sacrifice in the second film but the way Michael Rooker played him meant that we felt the characters demise personally.
Grab your magnifying glass as Ant-Man and company crawl into the book from pages 124 to 141. Every aspect of the character and his world is covered here, from Scott Lang and his alter-ego through to Sonny Burch. In-depth information about each character is lovingly added along with the photos that accompany them. Even Ant-thony gets a look in during the chapter, the loveable flying insect has a page to himself.
The Master Of The Mystic Arts, Doctor Strange magics his world a chapter from pages 144 to 151. This is almost the smallest part of the book, mainly because as of yet, we haven’t really had a chance to indulge ourselves too far into his world. On the upside though, the chapter does fill in a lot of background on this continuing character and I guess his chapter will increase in size once his second solo outing reaches us in a few years time.
Wakanda Forever is the opening cry as the book moves on to the world of Black Panther. Gracefully spread across pages 154 to 167, the chapter goes into detail about the world of T’Challa and Wakanda. Nothing is spared here. You would expect nothing less for one of the best received Marvel characters of them all. The technology of the world is looked into in detail and his enemies are featured with their backstories intact. An interesting chapter in a quality encyclopedia.
The smallest chapter is reserved for our newest hero. Captain Marvel is currently thrilling audiences around the globe and this chapter only runs to two pages. Captain Marvel herself and the character of Talos are featured here. I can only assume that Marvel wanted to keep as much about the new film as secret as possible and so the chapter is a complete throwaway. This being said, however, we can almost certainly see her chapter to be vastly increased in the next updated version of the book after she takes her place alongside the Avengers in this year’s film ‘Avengers: Endgame‘ that is due for release at the end of April. As the film will be the last one (Apart from Spider-Man: Far From Home that is due in July) from Marvel for a while, we can see the next edition to be totally different than this volume.
As the new Avengers film is the closer to phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the next edition will almost certainly be expanded to include more of Captain Marvel as well as chronicling the fates of the rest of the heroes. We are preparing ourselves for many of our heroes to fall in battle in the new film and to die fighting Thanos. The next edition will almost certainly include the end of their stories while updating the details of the surviving and new characters as the end credits roll.
I recommend this book to any comic book and Marvel fan. It is a must-have. Even if you read it only once, you’ll find yourself pulling it out every once in a while just to check facts and maybe to reminisce about the first three phases of the Marvel universe. In this respect, you’ll be glad you bought it. Though some minor characters and maybe one major villain is absent from the book, it contains more than enough to keep the reader occupied. And for that reason alone, you will not regret buying a copy.
Until Next Time.
Marvel Studios: Character Encyclopedia by Adam Bray is published by DK Books and is available to buy NOW!
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!