How Marvel Movies Can Affect Huntsville’s Local Businesses

In addition to wall crawling, superhuman reflexes, strength, and of course, “spider sense,” Spider-Man has another superpower: the ability to increase traffic at local comic book-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 million in the box office at home. Clearly, it’s huge for cinemas, which struggled during the home streaming era, even before the pandemic made the outlook even darker.

In Huntsville, Ala., A new Marvel blockbuster is also a boon for companies like Supper Heroes, a superhero-themed restaurant. “We’re seeing a lot of people who want to see the Spider-Man movie come in,” says Supper Heroes co-owner Mark Woodard. “When (Marvel Studios) makes a good movie, big blockbuster or a good series, it just puts (superheroes) back in everyone’s thoughts. And it’s starting to be part of the public spirit of the time or whatever. People say, ‘Oh, I remember how much I love this.’

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Woodard estimates that a new Marvel movie gives the restaurant a 15 percent increase in revenue. For some movies, it lasts a week or maybe two. But with hits at the nuclear level like The Avengers series or this latest Spider-Man, that bump can last a month or longer.

“Anyway, you can generate extra revenue on top of what you’d budgeted for,” Woodard says, “it’s money that can either go back to the company, your employees, or make sure the lights stay on if you’ve struggled. before that. So those things are extremely important to us. “

Supper Heroes closely follows the release dates of upcoming movies to ensure that the restaurant is adequately staffed around these dates. “It’s important,” Woodard says, that you can take proper care of your customers so they do not have a bad experience because you are busier than you normally are. “

In addition to superhero tickets, new “Star Wars” releases are also increasing traffic on Supper Heroes. In general, movies based on DC Comics, Marvel’s rival for comic book publishing, are not as effective. 2017’s “Wonder Woman” was an exception, though, and Woodward believes the upcoming Robert Pattinson starring “The Batman” movie will “be huge.”

The heroes of the sacrament

Supper Heroes co-owner Mark Woodard. (Matt Wake/mwake@al.com)mia

Supper Heroes is housed in a former home with gentle demeanor next to a Domino’s Pizza at 1812 Winchester Road. The interior of the restaurant is like a temple / museum for carved crusaders. There’s a Stan Lee autographed, Thor’s life-size hammer in a case. The dining room is decorated with more than 100 framed comics and impressive action figure collections. Overhead lights have been painted with symbols from costumes of characters like Mr. Fantastic, Flash and The Punisher.

Supper Heroes’ menu looks like a cartoon with elements like “Brown Chicken, Brown Cow”, a spit-egg-topped bacon cheeseburger, described in action-packed panels, vividly illustrated by Joe Simmons. However, there is no Dr. Octopus Fish Sticks or Batman Wings on the menu. “I can not use their trademarked marks to sell my items,” Woodard says. Similarly, while TVs in the restaurant’s dining room show superhero and science fiction movies, the sound must be turned off to be legal.

Woodward has been collecting comics since the early ’70s and has amassed a collection of more than 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 between them, opened Supper Heroes in 2013. They currently employ a staff of about 10. The restaurant’s Facebook page has nearly 14,000 followers.

When a new Marvel movie comes out, Supper Heroes is often part of a family day for Greg Alburl, a Huntsville resident who works as a technical writer, Alburl’s wife, and their 10-year-old son. During the holidays, he ate Alburls at the restaurant before catching a matinee 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 fixed part of our film experience,” Alburl says. “My son knows that if we go to Supper Heroes, it’s going to be a special day today. There’s the atmosphere, right? And you might see someone dressed as Batman. But if Supper Heroes’ food was not good – and we always has received really good service – then we would not go, just to go to a restaurant with a cartoon theme, before we see a movie with a cartoon theme. ” Alburl family favorites to order that include Full Clip, a chili cheese fries appetizer.

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

Ed Walls’ business is not comic book related. His business is comics. Walls opened The DeeP in Huntsville in 1995, and the store – which in addition to having 800,000 comics in stock, sells toys and games – is located in a location formerly home to an electronics retailer, at 2310 Memorial Pkwy. SW

The biggest impact a superhero blockbuster has on The DeeP is bringing back customers who were driven away from the store or from 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 in the last couple of years, people did not want to get out or they went over to other things. (A new Marvel movie) makes them come 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 along the lines of, “My kid loves Spider-Man. Do you have any cartoons for kids?” The DeeP carries comics for a range of ages, and it’s crucial for the company to develop new comic book fans and customers.

A Marvel hit can also send fans into the past. For example, up until “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, an advertising image appeared to show the classic enemy Green Goblin in the background. This inspired some of The DeeP’s customers to search for editions of Spider-Man comics featuring Green Goblin. In the case of the latest Disney + streaming series “Hawkeye”, female lead Kate Bishop led some fans more familiar with the archery hero vintage Cliff Barton era to check out the latest Bishop-focused Hawkeye comics.

2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” was something of a surprising hit film. The comic books are not nearly as iconic as many other Marvel titles, so the “Guardians” movies attracted attention and interest in the source material. Walls’ all-time favorite superhero is Spider-Man, but he feels the Deadpool movies are the strongest film adaptations to date. “They stayed really true to the character,” Walls says, “and (‘Deadpool’ star) Ryan Reynolds was a good fit.”

Superhero movies have drastically changed the perception of comics and the people who read, collect and possess them, Wall says. “They’ve made comics cool. When I was growing up back in the ’80s, comic book readers were bullied. But now people can be open about it and say,’ Yeah, I love the Marvel universe. I love comics and superheroes. ‘ It makes it mainstream and acceptable, and then people outside of purists can also enjoy the hobby. “

With their colorful characters, A-list actors, mega-budgets and flashy special effects, superhero movies are usually built to be rainmakers. But Walls believes there are real-life lessons in these major productions. “Many of these characters, what makes them heroes, is that they always tried to do the right thing, and if they find out it’s not, then they make amends for it. And try again.”

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