Marvel Studios Offices Tour: A Behind-The-Scenes Look

A few years ago, Marvel Studios moved from their Manhattan Beach offices to the Walt Disney Studios lot. And yesterday, for the first time, Disney has opened the door to press. On Monday afternoon, I visited the new Marvel offices in Burbank. Here's what I saw.

marvel studios offices

The Marvel Studios offices are located on the second floor of the Frank G. Wells Building on the Walt Disney Studios lot. When you exit the elevators, you are greeted by a wall-to-wall mural featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy, and a big Marvel Studios logo.

Marvel Studios began in a tiny office in Santa Monica that they shared with a kite factory. After that, the company moved to an office above a Mercedes dealership in Beverly Hills. They were based out of Manhattan Beach Studios for a few years before Disney asked them to move onto the Burbank lot in 2014. But it wasn't until a few months ago that Marvel fully decorated their offices.

Across from the reception desk is a waiting area, positioned in front of a replica of the Iron Man gantry. This is probably the coolest waiting area I've ever seen in Hollywood, second only to Bad Robot's office in Santa Monica.

marvel studios offices

On the other side of the reception desk is a display of Gamora and Star Lords costumes from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. While many of the displays in the offices are permanent, we were told that this costume display gets changed out on a regular basis probably to reflect the newest film release from the company. Unfortunately, this is where the photos end as Marvel doesn't allow any photos or video in any of their development areas.

Once you enter the actual offices, there is a gigantic wall-to-wall mural featuring concept art from Black Panther. The main communal area is lined with posters from all of the Marvel Studios films released thus far, each signed by most of the cast members. The area also features a bunch of cool displays, like a scale model of the Helicarrier that was made during the development of The Avengers.

Next to an Avengers pinball machine is a scale model of Disneyland's Main Street, complete with a working Disneyland Railroad train that circles the encased model. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige is a huge Disneyland fanatic, and the model is part of his personal collection on display in the office. On the other side of the room is a ping pong ball table, where Marvel employees can play to let off some steam.

In the center of the communal area is a bunch of couches surrounding a television, complete with video games. On one side of the sofa sits an end table that has a replica of Thor's hammer on top of it. I tried to lift it and was deemed not worthy. In the middle of the coffee table, under glass, is a baby Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Black Panther Suit Created by Visual Effects

It was here that we were shown a sizzle reel for Black Panther, one of the films Marvel is working on now. Here's the impression I got from the footage: this looks very different than any other Marvel film released to date. I'm not just talking about the visuals or the technologically advanced setting, but the tone and weight o what we saw. They will finish shooting this week.

From there, we were guided through a hallway filled with huge blow-ups of behind-the-scenes photos from their films, some great on-set black and white photography. On the inner hallway of the second floor, we passed a number of conference rooms, each with the name of one of the big Marvel characters and featuring a floor to ceiling blow-up of concept art from that film. The Thor conference room features a mural of concept art featuring Thor fighting Hulk in the gladiator arena from the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok. Other conference rooms were themed after Black Widow, Captain America, Iron Man and Hulk.

We didn't get to see Kevin Feige's office as it is filled with material that is confidential and probably covering the development of unannounced films. However, we were told that, as a joke one night, the Marvel Studios team replaced his furniture with some furniture from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Feige apparently decided to keep the furniture.

We passed an Iron Man Mark 1 armor replica, which was a bit shorter than the one in the movie. To its left is a display case featuring the top half of costumes and props of Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. In front of the Black Widow conference room is concept art showing Widow squaring off against a bunch of Ultrons from Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Around the corner is a massive long wall with a bookshelf filled with almost every available graphic novel and trade paperback. This is the library where Marvel Studios staff can quickly do some research for upcoming films. While the bookshelf isn't that tall, it does have a sliding ladder for those who want to reach books on the top shelves. Inside the bookshelf are a few props, including a stunt prop copy of the Eye of Agamotto from Doctor Strange and the Winter Soldier activation notebook from Captain America: Civil War.

Doctor Strange - Dormammu Alternate Design

A small kitchen area features a wall with floor-to-ceiling mural, depicting Doctor Strange's confrontation with Dormammu. The Marvel employees refer to the area as the Dormammu coffee shop.

We were then taken to the Visual Development Department, which is filled with cubicles with glass walls. Each cubicle decorated with cool Marvel memorabilia and art. The cubicles themselves are filled with artists working on concept art for future Marvel films. On the far side of the office is a couple closed door offices, including the office of artist Ryan Meinerding. His wall is filled with concept art for Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther. On a big monitor is a very revealing piece of concept art featuring Thanos in a purple suit wearing the completed Infinity Gauntlet. I asked about the alien-looking wreckage in the background of the art, but Meinerding told me he couldn't answer that question.

We moved on to the next office, which belongs to Marvel concept artist genius Andy Parks. If you've seen any of the cool concept art Marvel has released for their films; chances are high they were the work of this man. Also in the room is Peyton Reed, director of Ant-Man and the upcoming sequel, Ant-Man and The Wasp. On the wall is concept art from that film and Captain Marvel, although the conversation seems to focus on Ant-Man and The Wasp since Reed is in the room.

Ant-Man Honest Trailer

One piece of concept art shows Ant-Man riding a mite-looking creature on a micro scale plane. Another piece shows Giant Man outside the Palace of Fine Arts, confirming that Paul Rudd's character will not only shrink but grow, and that the story returns to San Francisco. Another piece of art shows Ant-Man shrunk to the size of an action figure, holding a gigantic soda bottle, shooting carbonated liquid at businesspeople in an office. I'm not exactly sure what is happening there, but it looked interesting. Another piece of art shows a dog eating a truck and another shows Scott as Ant-Man holding on for his dear life on the front headlight of a cab. Another piece of concept art depicts Ant-Man and Wasp running away from what appears to be a swarm of giant flies.

On the right was some concept art of the new designs for Ant-Man and the Wasp's suits. Hope Van Dyne's Wasp costume is a muted yellow, with some blue and red accents and, of course, some metal features.

The Captain Marvel art shows some of the working ideas for the costume, which looks like what you'd expect. One piece of concept art shows Captain Marvel fighting two eight-to-ten-foot tall robots, something that may not even be in the film. While there isn't a director on the project yet, they still work on ideas that the filmmakers can choose from once hired.

Thor Ragnarok

From the art department, we went over to the Editorial VFX Screening Room down the hall. Marvel Studios has a few editing rooms, as well as some other post facilities elsewhere on the lot. All of the Marvel movies are edited in-house, except Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is being edited at Sony Pictures.

In the VFX screening room, director Taika Waititi is looking over some in-progress visual effects shots from his movie Thor: Ragnarok. It is here that Taika revealed that he is playing a character in Thor: Ragnarok named Korg, a Kronan who played a role in the Planet Hulk storyline from which this film borrows elements of its plot. You can read more about that here.

Black Panther Concept Art

Finally, we moved back down to the first floor, where Marvel has a larger screening room. In this room, producer Louis D'esposito was looking over some dailies from Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther. He explained that they use the screening room to screen movies that may lead them to hire directors( like Jon Watts' Cop Car or Taika Waititi's Boy) as well as production dailies, letting them give notes on visual effects shot revisions.

We were shown some raw dailies from Black Panther, which again, looks like no other Marvel movie I've seen before. We saw Lupita Nyong'o's character fight some bad guys in the jungle, stealthily taking a group of them down while the rest of the team doesn't notice. We also saw some shots on boats as the border tribes head to a coronation, dancing and chanting. We see one take of Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa, making an entrance by ascending downstairs into muddy water, looking up at cave wall filled with tribe members dancing and chanting. He dons a ceremonial strut before kneeling before them. We saw a car flip through a street fair, a scene where Andy Serkis, reprising his role as Klaw from Avengers: Age of Ultron, does a deal for Vibranium in a South Korean casino, and an action scene featuring Martin Freeman and Boseman working together. There's a briefcase in the mix...maybe filled with vibraniam?

We were then presented with a series of VFX revisions from Spider-Man: Homecoming. Jon Watts is currently scoring the film at Sony with Michael Giacchino so he couldn't be there. We saw a scene of Peter Parker in an alley unglamorously changing into the suit. The suit tightens up around his body, almost like Marty McFly Jr.'s future jacket in Back to the Future II. We also saw some selected clips of Peter Parker in his homemade Spider-Man suit in a plane fight and school bus fight sequence.

Donald Glover makes an appearance, where we see him handling a tech gun. While Marvel and Disney have been very vague about his role, it appears he is playing one of Vulture's henchmen. We were told that Glover is not in much of the film, but his character is excellent. We also saw some shots of Vulture flying and landing, as well as shots of Spider-Man on the top of the Washington monument. They still have 2,300 VFX shots to finish on this film. Before each review, a chart displays, showing a count of how many days and hours they have to complete each shot before each review.