How George Lucas Made the Very First Marvel Movie Come True

How George Lucas Made the Very First Marvel Movie Come True
Image credit: Universal Pictures

As it turns out, Howard the Duck influenced the whole industry.

When we think of Marvel movies, our minds often jump to the blockbusters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe featuring superheroes like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor.

However, the very first Marvel movie was made long before the MCU was even in plans, way back in 1986. And the man behind it was none other than George Lucas.

Howard the Duck might not be as famous as Spider-Man or the Hulk, but back in the mid-1970s, this iconoclastic Marvel comic written by Steve Gerber was a pop culture sensation. Lucas, fresh from his Star Wars success, stumbled upon it during his film school days.

By the 1980s, while many had forgotten about Howard, Lucas hadn't. He decided to make it one of his major post-Star Wars projects, with American Graffiti co-writer, Willard Huyck, directing.

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The movie, unfortunately, didn't do well at the box office, costing a whopping $37 million and not making much in return. But every cloud has a silver lining.

This film, which many considered a flop, paved the way for a revolution in special effects. It introduced techniques that would later be crucial for movies like The Matrix.

In the 1980s, Lucas's company, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), was the go-to spot for mind-blowing special effects. And when it came to Howard the Duck, ILM really went above and beyond to make it awesome.

They used the Go Motion technique for the film's Dark Overlord monster and even had wireless controls for Howard's facial expressions.

Some of the digital techniques used in creating this were later adopted by films like Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Back to the Future Part II. And it wasn't just Hollywood that benefited.

While not being a box office success and a critically acclaimed project, Howard the Duck managed to leave an impact on the industry. Whether the movie is good or not, it was the first Marvel movie, and Howard the Duck started it all.

The character later made his way into the MCU. He appeared in every film of the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. It’s hard to spot him, but Howard also joined the Avengers during the final battle of Avengers: Endgame.