NEW YORK — For more than 20 years, acclaimed Argentine filmmaker Victoria Alonso has helped steer Marvel's cinematic juggernaut to ever-growing heights of success. With this week's release of the "Doctor Strange" sequel, she is poised for another hit, and will fulfill a dream of debuting a superhero she's wanted to see onscreen since she started at Marvel Studios.
Alonso started at Marvel in 2006 co-producing "Iron Man," the studio's first film, which was released two years later. Since then, she's become one of Hollywood's most powerful executives and her 25 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies — including the recent "Spider-Man" blockbuster— have grossed $23 billion worldwide at the box office.
Adding to the list this week is "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" starring Benedict Cumberbatch — which continues to explore the notion of multiple realities and interconnected stories, in this case from "WandaVision" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home". The film also introduces moviegoers for the first time to a young Latina superhero, America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez.
Alonso, who last year was promoted to president of physical and post production, visual effects and animation production at Marvel Studios, spoke recently to The Associated Press from Miami about multiverses, superheroes, her work and the future of cinema.
Remarks have been edited for brevity and clarity.
AP: If the possibilities for superhero movies seemed endless, the multiverse takes this notion to another level. How far do you think the Marvel Cinematic Universe can go?
ALONSO: For me, it has no limits. We have I think 6,000 characters in our library, so now that we have opened the door to the multiverse and the door to madness (laughs), nobody can stop us!
AP: The mix of universes in the latest "Spider-Man" was exciting for the audience, especially the inclusion of multiple actors who have portrayed the hero (Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire). What can you tell us about the multiverse of "Doctor Strange"?
ALONSO: Well, I think it's a different movie in that respect. Spider-Man is Spider-Man and the meeting has been very exciting because the generations of people who have seen one, the other and the third (actors), to be able to see them together seems to have been a big dream for many. Having Doctor Strange as part of that movie also seemed to have been a great addition. To be able to have him now in his own film again, with the characters from his original story and also with Wanda Maximoff and the introduction of America Chavez, it's a great opportunity to be able to take them to another place, a place we that haven't been to.
AP: Speaking of America Chavez, what does it mean to you to have a Latinx superhero?
ALONSO: America Chavez is one of the characters that I've been waiting for since I started working at Marvel Studios, and I've been waiting for her with great desire and the eagerness to start telling her story. As you know, these characters sometimes have a minor part in a movie, then they grow, have their own film or their streaming show, like we have with Moon Knight. To be able to have her in our MCU is an honor.
AP: In terms of the multiverses and connection of stories, what was the most difficult part of the new "Doctor Strange"?
ALONSO: The most complicated part is telling you about a character that you have already seen in the last decade, that you know; to be able to tell another facet of who Doctor Strange is and what we can learn from him. It's like when you're meeting a person and you're captivated by that person, you want to know more about that person, that's how the friendship grows. In this case, it seems to me that the fans want to know something else about our characters, and I can assure that this movie has something different.
AP: Some outlets have referred to you as "the most powerful woman in Hollywood." Do you feel that way, like the most powerful woman in Hollywood?
ALONSO: Honestly, no. What I feel is that I have to keep working, that there is a lot to do. I appreciate the titles, it seems to me that it is important for young women in the world who feel related in any way, who look at my career or look at me and say: "Well, if it happened to her, it could happen to me". But besides that, to me, it continues to be about daily work, strength, dedication.
AP: What do you currently enjoy the most about your job?
ALONSO: Everything! Absolutely everything. I enjoy the difficult things, the stressful things. Discovering a character, being able to stage a story that didn't exist, seeing how we grow as a group of people, being able to see that our characters perhaps can help people in some way, be it a little or a lot. The fact that the world, on a global level, has opened its arms to us, its homes, its theaters. This for me is a privilege, and for as long as they let me do this job, I will be very grateful.
AP: Superhero movies are among the few productions that have successfully drawn audiences back to the theaters since the pandemic shutdowns. With the increased consumption of streaming, how do you see the future of cinema?
ALONSO: I hope that cinema is alive and kicking. For us, it is very important to be able to see our stories in community. We have supported cinema during all of this, and although we are producing a lot for Disney+, we will continue to produce our three or four films per year if COVID allows it and we can deal with the logistics. We continue to fight every day and we hope that, little by little, with the protocols established and the fears dissipating a little more, people return to the theaters and we can support art in community.
Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner.