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Monday, April 30 2018 11:25

"Avengers: Infinity War" - Marvel & Motherhood with Marvel Studios' Victoria Alonso

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As of this morning, the world is waking up to discover the magnitude of Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War. With the biggest opening weekend box office of all time ($258.2M domestic, $640.9M globally), the 19th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) officially becomes the biggest superhero opening of all time - simultaneously grabbing the trophy for the biggest individual Saturday and Sunday box office off all time in North America. Capping off the first 10 years of Marvel Studios, the films will have pulled in more than $15B globally by the time Infinity War completes its run and the next five films are already on the way. The success of the studio is a team effort, and one of the people responsible has been there since the beginning - Victoria Alonso, EVP of Physical Production, and Executive Producer of Avengers: Infinity War. Together with Kevin Feige (President) and Louis D'Esposito (Co-President), she's helped shape the MCU into something that fans love and other studios often seek to emulate - overseeing every aspect of production from start to finish. Last week, mere hours after a late night celebrating the World Premiere of Infinity War, I was in the room at Marvel Studios in Burbank for one of the most unusual and enlightening meetings that I've ever been a part of. It was a conversation that for some mirrored the emotional rollercoaster (laughs! tears!) of the film itself - the rules tossed aside not for a rehash of what's been said elsewhere, but for a discussion about parenting, motherhood, and making the world a better place for our kids.

Avengers: Infinity War - Marvel Blogger Crew

Pictured: Victoria Alonso (center) alongside Melissa Weintraub, Amy Fulcher, Leanette Fernandez, Kassandra Reasoner, Louise Manning Bishop, Deanna Underwood.

To understand the scene in the room, you have to understand the group that I work with - a rotating team of writers, bloggers and personalities that have a deep relationship and friendship with The Walt Disney Company. We're brought in 25 at a time to create content and help with the promotional launch of each film with a focus on connecting with families. While the crew for each campaign may change, what's unique is that I'm generally the only male in a group made up of women for whom I hold a tremendous amount of respect. They're working mothers that are not only raising their children, but also serving as small business owners and independent contractors that have to find balance between it all. During our meeting with Victoria, the room became a round table of personal discussion - mother-to-mother, and much of what was said in that room is not my story to tell (hit this link to discover more conversation with Victoria via the other 24 women in the room).

What I can say from my own experience is that I have an exceptionally strong wife, and together we're raising two extraordinarily strong-willed daughters. In a world where many people have loved telling others what they can't do, Victoria Alonso is an example of what you can do - and that's the type of thing that all children need to see - especially little girls. She's a woman, a Latina, gay, and balancing career with family - she and her wife raising a daughter who's right around the same age as my oldest (8). 

"My mom used to say 'if it has been done, it can. And if it hasn’t been done, it should.' And here I am," notes Alonso. "I think when you have moments of doubt you just need to think about it."

Imelda Corcoran, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios, Alan Horn, and Executive Producer Victoria Alonso

Imelda Corcoran, Alan Horn (Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios), and Victoria Alonso

For Alonso's daughter, the recent success of Black Panther has brought newfound attention with some of the teachers calling her the daughter of "a change-maker." 

"I don’t know that I’m a change-maker. That’s what her teachers think," she says with a chuckle. "I’m a working mother. That’s all. That’s my title. That’s what I do. I try to create a balance between home, life, marriage, friends, career. So, if that’s a change-maker, so be it, but that doesn’t make me any different than any of you.  It’s my little one at seven years of age being able to see someone like her. The Gina Davis Foundation has a tagline that says 'if you can see it, you can be it.' So, for her, seeing me or her other mother or any other woman out there doing it is what inspires her to be... the idea of getting out there and showing that you can is I think by far the most important thing."

If that message of being out there to inspire sounds familiar, it might be something that's baked into the Marvel Cinematic Universe by design. "They [the movies] have more than one message, and it’s really up to you to see it. You know, you can peel our movies like an onion, and find it and find it, and eventually you might cry." 

James Zahn (The Rock Father) with Victoria Alonso, EVP Physical Production, Marvel Studios

"I just wanna say, I thank you. As a mother to mothers, I work every day to make sure that our kids get a better perspective. And if our stuff [at Marvel] -- because it’s global and it gets to kids all over the world - can create that kinda thing for kids everywhere I think that’s a win. But whatever you’re doing I’m sure it's making my kid’s life better too. So, I thank you for that."

Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War  stars Robert Downey Jr., as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Don Cheadle as Colonel James Rhodes/War Machine, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Paul Bettany as Vision, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Benedict Wong as Wong, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Dave Bautista as Drax, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, with Benicio Del Toro as The Collector, with Josh Brolin as Thanos, and Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord.

Anthony and Joe Russo direct the film, which is produced by Kevin Feige. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo and Stan Lee are the executive producers. Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely wrote the screenplay. Rated PG-13

Now Playing in theaters everywhere!

Pictured Top: (L-R) The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, Executive Producers Victoria Alonso and Jon Favreau, Walt Disney Studios President Alan Bergman, Taika Waititi, Executive Producer Louis D'Esposito, President of Marvel Studios and Producer Kevin Feige, and director Peyton Reed. Credit: Marvel Studios

James Zahn

James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance.  Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.

As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, has contributed to The Toy Book and writes a regular Star Wars column - Transmissions from a Galaxy Far, Far Away for The Pop Insider. He also regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

Learn more here

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