I read this morning in an article published by Variety how Mindy Hamilton, head of global partnerships at Marvel Entertainment, addressed why the company hasn’t gotten too involved in virtual reality during Variety's Massive Summit “State of the Entertainment Franchise” panel.
“You’d be surprised,” Hamilton said, “Marvel has been very cautious about getting into that because there’s really bad VR out there and the really good VR is super, super expensive and it takes a really, really long time and you want to make sure that it’s not a passive experience. If you’re doing VR, you want to make sure that it’s interactive, that it’s super engaging, that it pulls you along, it’s active. I think the best example where we dipped our toe into it was in our games division, where we partnered with Oculus and we knew, fans wanted that opportunity to be able to step inside and be Iron Man for a moment, or take on Hulk or take on Thor.”
It's disheartening to read that interactivity is what Marvel, and maybe the entire Hollywood industry, think VR is about. It's as if they were telling us that great cinema is all about special effects and not about the plot, great French cuisine about the cutlery and not about the taste, great music about the mix and not about the melody.
No, Marvel, presence is not something that can be only be achieved by stepping in the shoes of Iron Man. Great VR is not all about interactivity or about money; it's about great stories that are relevant to (and make the most of) the immersive quality of the media.
It is more than time for Hollywood to reassess what storytelling is about, and to understand that VR is not just another techie gimmick, but a new art form.