How Marvel Movies Can Impact Huntsville Superhero-Themed Businesses

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Along with wallcrawling, superhuman reflexes, strength, and of course ‘spider sense’, Spider-Man has another superpower: the ability to increase traffic to local comic-related businesses.

Since opening on December 17, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has grossed more than $ 620,000,000 at the domestic box office. Obviously, this is huge for theaters, which have struggled in the era of home streaming even before the pandemic made the outlook even bleaker.

In Huntsville, Alabama, a new Marvel blockbuster is also a boon for companies like Supper Heroes, a superhero-themed restaurant. “We see quite a few people seeing the Spider-Man movie coming,” Supper Heroes co-owner Mark Woodard said. “When (Marvel Studios) makes a good movie, a big blockbuster, or a good series, it puts (superheroes) back on everyone’s mind. And it starts to be a buzzword in public or whatever. say, “Oh, I remember how much I like it.”

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Woodard estimates that a new Marvel movie is giving the restaurant about a 15% increase in business. For some movies, it lasts a week or maybe two. However, with nuclear-level hits like The Avengers series or this latest Spider-Man, that bump can last a month or more.

“Anytime you can generate additional income on top of what you had budgeted for,” says Woodard, “it’s money that can either be reinvested in the business, your employees or making sure that the lights stay on if you have had any difficulties before that, so these things are extremely important to us.

Supper Heroes is closely monitoring upcoming movie release dates to ensure the restaurant is adequately staffed around those dates. “It’s important,” says Woodard, “that you can take care of your customers in a proper way, so that they don’t have a bad experience because you are busier than usual. “

In addition to the superhero fares, new releases of “Star Wars” also increase traffic at Supper Heroes. In general, films based on DC Comics, Marvel’s comic book publishing rival, don’t have as much of an impact. However, 2017’s “Wonder Woman” was an exception, and Woodward believes Robert Pattinson’s next film with “The Batman” will be “huge.”

Mark Woodard, co-owner of Supper Heroes. (Matt Wake/[email protected])billion

Supper Heroes is housed in an old, mild-mannered house next to Domino’s Pizza at 1812 Winchester Road. The interior of the restaurant is like a temple / museum for the Caped Crusaders. There is a life-size Thor’s hammer autographed by Stan Lee in a case. The dining room is decorated with over 100 framed comics and an impressive collection of action figures. The ceiling lights were painted with symbols from the costumes of characters such as Mr. Fantastic, The Flash and The Punisher.

Supper Heroes’ menu looks like a comic book, with items like “Brown Chicken, Brown Cow,” a bacon and cheese burger topped with fried eggs, featured in action-packed, vividly illustrated panels by Joe Simmons. There are no Dr. Octopus fish sticks or Batman wings on the menu. “I can’t use their branded personas to sell my items,” Woodard says. Likewise, while TVs in the restaurant’s dining room play superhero and sci-fi movies, the sound has to be turned off to be legal.

Woodward has been collecting comics since the early 1970s, amassing a collection of over 60,000, including personal favorites like “Daredevil” and “Hellboy”. He and Mike Staggs, two friends from Auburn University with decades of experience in the service industry, started Supper Heroes in 2013. They currently employ around ten people. The restaurant’s Facebook page has nearly 14,000 subscribers.

When a new Marvel movie comes out, Supper Heroes is often part of a family day out for Greg Alburl, a Huntsville resident who works as a technical writer, Alburl’s wife, and their 10-year-old son. While on vacation, he Alburls had dinner at the restaurant before attending a morning of “Spider-Man: No Way Home”. The family had previously made Supper Heroes part of their Marvel movie mission for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”, “Thor: The Dark World” and “Avengers: End Game”.

“It’s a regular part of our cinematic experience,” says Alburl. “My son knows that if we go to Supper Heroes today will be a special day. There is the atmosphere, right? And you might see someone disguised as Batman. But if the food in Supper Heroes wasn’t good – and we’ve always had really good service – then we wouldn’t go, just to go to a comic book-themed restaurant before seeing a movie about the cartoon theme. Alburl family favorites to order there include the Full Clip, a chili-cheese-fries appetizer.

Although Alburl read “The Uncanny X-Men” growing up and his son plays Marvel-related video games, his family’s Marvel fandom is mostly derived from the movies. “They are so well done for the most part,” says Alburl. “Even my wife is addicted. She focuses on watching superhero movies and talking about what happened in the last movies.

Ed Walls’ business is not related to comics. His job is comics. Walls opened The DeeP in Huntsville in 1995, and the store – which in addition to stocking 800,000 comics, sells toys and games – is located in a space that once housed an electronics parts retailer, at 2310 Memorial Pkwy. SW

The biggest impact of a superhero blockbuster on The DeeP is bringing back customers who had strayed from the store or the comics in general. “They’re renewing their interest in the character,” Walls says, “and they want to come in and see what’s going on now. Especially with COVID over the past few years people either didn’t want to go out or they’ve moved on. ( A new Marvel movie) keeps them coming back.

In the middle of a new blockbuster, some parents will come to the store and ask Walls or one of his 23 employees something like, “My kid loves Spider-Man. Do you have any children’s comics? The DeeP offers comics for a variety of ages, and it is vital for the business to develop new comic book fans and customers.

A Marvel hit can send fans back in time as well. For example, before “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” a promotional image appeared to show classic nemesis Green Goblin in the background. This inspired some customers of The Deep to research back issues of Spider-Man comics featuring the Green Goblin. In the case of the recent Disney + streaming series “Hawkeye,” female lead character Kate Bishop led some fans more familiar with the vintage Cliff Barton era of that archer hero to check out the recent Bishop-focused Hawkeye comics.

2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” was somewhat of a surprise hit movie. The comics aren’t as iconic as many other Marvel titles, so the “Guardians” movies have created awareness and interest in the source material. Walls’ all-time favorite superhero is Spider-Man, but he thinks the Deadpool movies are the strongest movie adaptations yet. “They really stuck with the character,” Walls says, “and (‘Deadpool’ star) Ryan Reynolds was a good fit.”

Superhero movies have radically altered the perception of comics and the people who read, collect and obsess over them, Wall says. “They made the comics cool. When I was growing up in the 80s comic book readers were harassed. But now people can be open about it and say, “Yeah, I love the Marvel Universe. I love comics and superheroes. ‘ This makes it common and acceptable, and so people outside the purists can enjoy this hobby as well. “

With their colorful characters, top actors, mega-budgets, and flashy special effects, superhero movies are generally designed to be rainmakers. But for Walls believers, there are real-life lessons to be learned from these larger-than-life productions. “A lot of these characters, what makes them heroes is that they always tried to do the right thing, and if they find that they don’t, they redeem themselves. And try again. “


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