Marvel Comics have really been dominating the pop culture landscape as of late, but for many people, this is just an extension of who they were as kids. The idea that characters and events they loved as children would be handled with such care and precision honestly seemed out of the realm of possibility for some time until Kevin Feige came along and changed not just the way movies are made, but what can be done with a cinematic universe entirely. But it’s not just the films that make a big splash, the comics is the source of these films and they’ve been close to the hearts of fans for years and years. Only now are we seeing an absurd amount of Marvel products everywhere we look.
For many fans, comics and video games are cut from the same cloth. Not only does it inspire millions, but it gives people an escape from the reality of the pandemic and life’s other woes. Some fans have taken the two hobbies and blended them rather seamlessly, making comic-themed consoles and controllers. One such creator is Michael Jadin. Jadin was cool enough to send me one of his products, and an Infinity Gauntlet-themed controller for the Xbox, and in return, I decided to ask him a few questions about how the marriage of the two came together. Here’s a look at what Michael had to say about his passion for making Marvel-themed controllers and selling them to the legions of Xbox fans around the world.
What inspired you to work with controllers?
I have a 6-year-old son, who at the time just turned 5, and he was getting into Minecraft and Roblox, etc — “the usual” at that age. And he needed a replacement set of joysticks, but I had no idea how to repair it. I bought a set of red ones since they were the cheapest ones on Amazon and luckily they ended up not being too much of a hassle to repair. But once he got his brand new, unique red sticks, he figured that anything on the controller could be customized. So he bugged me about changing the rest of the setup for a while, I told him I just didn’t have the tools or ability. One day he actually drew out an entire blueprint for what he wanted out of the controller, and I just couldn’t refuse at that point. One thing led to another and now a corner of our basement is basically my workshop!
It was around 2008, I had just started dating this girl while living in Milwaukee. She really loved Ironman and wanted to watch it with me. I was hesitant because I actually had given up on superhero movies at the time, but we ended up both loving it. She ended up being my wife, and we go see literally every Marvel movie in the theatre and make sure to watch all the MCU shows.
Everyone has a seminal moment they remember coming into comics? What are yours?
I was about seven years old, it was recess at the small private school I attended. I was a transfer student and didn’t know anyone yet, but every now and then one of the kids brought a book that was basically an encyclopedia for Marvel superheroes. Cyclops actually was my favorite back then, I have no idea why (wouldn’t crack the top ten today haha)
What’s a character you want to do, but have to figure out their translation to a controller?
It’s crazy because it starts that way with every themed controller. You have such limited space but so much to capture, especially if you want to incorporate some type of “easter egg” into it that only true fans would recognize.
I have orders to do both Spider-Man and Ironman. I have a pretty good idea what I’m going to do for Spidey but Ironman is just tough. Likely because he’s become so iconic, and I also feel like there’s an “easy way out” making something that’s just dark red and brushed gold. So much more than that should be captured! Another thing is I’m always finding new ways to customize a controller. A year ago, I couldn’t airbrush faceplates or cast buttons out of resin. What ends up happening is that figuring out that translation is really half the fun–if I’m hitting a wall, it means I need to expand my repertoire of skills and find out what’s needed to capture that character perfectly.
Growing up with comics, who is on your Mt. Rushmore of comic creators and comic characters?
Wolverine, Ironman, Cyclops, and War Machine. I’ve always loved Wolverine, especially in the animated series. He was the John Wick of his day, without the guns. Super badass with a cool backstory. Ironman just because he could make anything and integrate it into his suit. Cyclops… I have no idea why, but I always picked him whenever I was at Chuck E Cheese feeding quarters into the X-Men arcade game. War Machine, really just because I thought it was kickass to have a gun on the back of his suit, plus he often seemed like a more heavy-duty version of Ironman. As I said, I took a hiatus from Marvel for a while so the opinions I had “growing up” are going to be pretty juvenile haha.
As for comic creators, I really can’t say — I mean, I feel like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby go without saying. But I do really like what the Russo brothers, Taika Waititi, and James Gunn have done with the Marvel universe.
Either way, Marvel as a whole has been pretty close to my heart because it’s literally a part of my family’s origin story, and my wife and I continue to nerd out with our son over the MCU as well. I even got my parents hooked! They are terrible with spoilers and are often an episode or two ahead of me, so I might regret causing that.
It’s easy to see where Jadin’s influences come from and why these two passions have grown into a hobby. For your convenience, I’ve included a couple of photos of Michael’s work and a link to his Twitter if you’re interested in making a purchase. We thought it would be fun to highlight creators within the Marvel space and give them a chance to share their passion with the rest of the Marvel community.
If you’re wondering, all of these are Xbox certified controllers and they work as well, if not better, than your standard Xbox controllers as they are the Elite brand. I want to thank Michael for not only his kindness but his time in explaining how this came about. His passion is endless, his bank account is not. So, check out his wares if you get the chance, you’re sure to find something that speaks to you on the Marvel side and if not, he always is up for the challenge of a custom order!