by Nathan Ellis
An Advertisement Analysis
In conjunction with sponsor Coca Cola, Marvel's YouTube channel recently released some bizarre and oddly comforting fireside videos. Each one rendered in 4K and lasting over an hour in length, they feature ambient crackling and other auditory details unique to each property. Even Disney and Marvel's record breaking year at the box office doesn't quite justify the time and resources dedicated to creating five distinct videos of fictional yule tided dwellings. It is, however, a charming way for the company to throw their affluence in our faces for the sake of holiday spirit.
Fireside videos are somewhat of a Youtube phenomenon. Some clocking in at millions of hits, these massive looped uploads are a seasonal impulse that even Netflix has indulged in before with 2013's three-part series "Fireplace for Your Home". A satirical trailer was released, which includes action film tropes and what sounds like the voice narration of Peter Cullen (Netflix has refused to comment on the voice of the narrator in question), and a fairly convincing, even more satirical 'making of' companion piece.
Are these types of videos driven by holiday nostalgia? Atmospheric therapy? Or just out of location/lack of having an actual fireplace? We won't know until our Deadbeat Christmas correspondent ANSWERS HIS GOD DAMN FUCKING EMAILS. What we do know is that Marvel is throwing their hat into the ring of this newly concieved artform. The characters included, in no particular order are:
Taking place at his "Manhattan Apartment", Iron Man's setting is clean and elegant. A framed photograph of love interest Pepper Potts sits atop a coffee table near a winding staircase. A clever use of the cover art by Adi Granov for issue three of Warren Ellis' 6 part Iron Man series "Extremis" is used as a portrait above mantle. A Pizza box reminiscent of the one Obadiah Stane gives Tony Stark as a friendly peace offering in Jon Favreau's 2008 smash hit is seen. Sound effects other than crackling include: Random assortment of beeping, car horns, and Iron Man thrusters.
His Asgard home is adorned with Norse and Celtic imagery. Namely, the Triquetra, a Germanic rune usually featured on old illustrations of Mjolnir and also appearing on Thor's hammer in the 2011 film. His dinner table looks similar to the soul forge Jane Foster lies on in the 2013 sequel The Dark World. A wolf pelt hangs across the small table in the living quarters, while the aforementioned hammer and what looks like the newer comic iteration of Thor's helmet decorate the mantle. Sound effects other than crackling include: Eerie space background noise and what sounds like explosive fighting in the distance.
Kamala Khan's Jersey City home is a more humble and down to earth entry in the series. Slightly more lived in, the fireplace itself is the only classic brick-laid hearth in the bunch. A Persian teapot can be seen on the coffee table near Kamala's costume, which lies draped along the couch. It does lack the culture Thor's living quarters had, most likely to remain as politically neutral as possible. The painting above the fireplace is vague and indistinguishable. A mountain range? Pyramids (that would be ill advised)? It all screams "we're too afraid or too lazy to include anything actually Pakistani in the room!". It does stand out as the most auditorily complex. Sound effects other than crackling include: Car horns, dogs barking, light footsteps, running water, muffled conversation, cabinets being rifled through.
Guardians of the Galaxy
More of a fusion reactor-place than a fireplace, the Guardians Spaceship setup is more barren than expected but the sound choices are creative enough. The obvious standout is the dancing baby Groot sporting James Gunn's patented flailing when the time is right. To his left, the bench looks like a set of classic upholstered car seats, matching the vintage tone of the Milano interior from the films. Otherwise the only items of note are the windows leading to a twinkling background of stars, a foreground of random turbines, and a Guardians/Star Lord emblem really only shown in the comics. Sound effects other than crackling include: Turbines or fusion reactor whirring, power tools being used, and the surf rock version of "I Wish You a Merry Christmas".
Saving the classiest for last, Steve Rogers' fireside is brimming with juicy, unnecessary detail. His classic 40's era Heater shield is hung above the early wooden furnace. Cap's modern buckler is also given some love as it rests against a chair with a makeshift leg made from old books. A photo of Joe Simon era Bucky is seen near a larger framed photograph of Peggy Carter. A period accurate radio jams consistently in the corner. Sound effects other than crackling include: Old timey Christmas jingle, trucks driving by and backing up, high radio frequency.
Overall, the meticulous atmosphere is a welcome surprise in the world of corporate advertising gimmicks. Almost every example includes a reference to the cinematic universe and at least one comic book exclusive decoration. It's also a good way to bring the current versions of these characters to the forefront. Aside from maybe Riri Williams and Sam Wilson's Captain America, they went with the most relevant examples of each brand. The female iteration of Thor, Kamala Khan's Ms. Marvel, and the cinematic/Annihilation era Guardians of the Galaxy are all prioritized. Kick your feet up, grab some egg nog, and enjoy staring at a screen for 5 hours. You deserve it.