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Marvel’s Victoria Alonso On ‘What If…?’, Studio’s Animation Push – Annecy – Deadline

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Marvel Studios’ EVP of Production, Victoria Alonso, showed off a new look at Marvel’s upcoming Disney Plus animated series What If…? during a Women In Animation panel at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival this morning. Following a preview that dropped last December, today’s clip showed off more of Peggy Carter’s transformation into Super Soldier Captain Britain, replete with her Union Jack-emblazoned shield, and also featuring Steve Rogers and Howard Stark. Alonso promised the show will be “full of surprises” with “a lot of our characters that you know and love, but a lot of them are doing other things, and then there’s other characters.” She called it a “nice way to creatively be inspired by new ideas and looking at things through a different lens” and teased, “What if our characters were turned upside down, topsy-turvy and someone that is not, becomes ‘it’?”

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The first animated series from Marvel Studios, the show is expected to bow this summer and will feature several MCU vets voicing their iconic characters. Alonso said, “Animation is super exciting, it’s exciting in so many ways. Usually when people watch animation it’s at a time when they can relax. For me it was Saturday mornings… so what if, when you get that time, not only do you get some of your favorite characters but these characters are doing things that maybe you in your mind thought they could be doing… Animation provides absolutely a carte blanche and an open road for all distances to be traveled.”

For the series, Alonso said that Marvel is working with companies around the globe. “Part of having a more cohesive storytelling voice is when you gather people from all over the world and animation gives you that, so that’s the kind of freedom. Because animation is new to us this is a chance for us to work with different people in different places.”

Speaking more directly on the subjects of inclusion, diversity and gender parity, Alonso said they “all go hand-in-hand with showing the world as it is… There’s about 6,000 characters in the Marvel library that we have access to, so if this goes right, we will be telling these stories for many, many, many, many generations to come. And the importance of laying the ground for what’s to come is that in those stories there’s many different characters that you can actually voice.”

The exec said she is sometimes asked, “Aren’t you tired every time your movie comes it’s number one in the world?” That’s an “odd comment,” she mused, and said her response is, “The reason we have that success consistently is because our audience is global. You cannot have a global audience and not somehow start to represent it… For us, it was really, really, really important to have that.”

Alonso continued, “For the longest of time, we heard a woman-led film will never open. I say, ‘Please check, Captain Marvel made a lot of money.’ Then they always told us that Black Panther was never going to open and that nobody wanted a completely Black cast, and that made $1.3B. So you can look at it from the social point of view, the cultural point of view. But truthfully, this is a business. From a fiscal point of view, you are leaving money on the table by not representing. I think 51% of our audience is female, 28% of our audience is Hispanic. If we don’t represent the people that watch what we make, eventually they’ll go elsewhere because somebody else will figure it out.”

What’s more, “We can only tell stories if we succeed and actually have money to make them. So the idea being, ‘If it makes money, why not make it?’ To me it seemed like a very simple equation, but it took a lot of time, a lot of talking.”

What does Alonso hope to see in the next five years as it relates to Women In Animation’s goal of 50/50 by 2025? “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind and in my heart that you can get there, but the ‘we’ is the part that worries me. We have to do it together because you can have an isolated group of people that are pushing and shoving and making sure that this is their priority, and yes they will make a change in that group of people, but you won’t make a true measurable change unless we do it as a whole. My hope is that in every room, in every conversation in every meeting, in every moment of consideration for others… that people actually take the time to think and say, ’Is this a balanced story or is this a one-person point of view story?’ It’s okay to have one point of view clearly, but what’s important is that if your lead is of a certain type, that doesn’t mean that everyone around is the same.”

Alonso noted, “When I walk into a room I do a headcount of how many women. If there’s only three women in the room and there’s 17 men, I usually make this comment, ‘Oh, there’s a lot of men here today.’ Is it passive aggressive? No — you can take it that way if you have a dirty conscience — it’s really calling it what it is. It’s my reality, but I’m 15% of that equation. Still at this level it’s still not 50/50. I also don’t want a room full of women, I truly believe balance is good.
The male, the female and the other, all of that is good for us. Is it possible? Yes. Is it erosive and tiresome and an every day chore? Yes. Do you have to stay committed every hour of the day? Yes.”

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