12 things you didn't know about Hollywood super hero film producer Avi Arad
What surprised us about the history of the super-producer behind 'Iron Man' and other mega-hits.
Comic book fans and fans of summer movie blockbusters know the name Avi Arad. The 66-year-old producer spent a decade with Marvel, and pushed to shape the company into the entertainment juggernaut it is today. But there's plenty you probably didn't know about the man who helped bring Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men to the big screen:
1. He worked as a truck driver to put himself through college.
Arad came to the U.S. in 1970 and worked his way to his degree by driving a truck and teaching Hebrew.
2. Growing up in Israel, he loved comic books.
Arad's family moved from Poland to Ramat Gan, east of Tel Aviv, shortly after he was born in 1948. He told USA Today that he read Superman and Spider-man comic books that were translated to Hebrew. "We didn't have much back then," Arad said. "Maybe I just wanted to escape that life into something more fantastic."
3. He may have designed a toy you played with.
After college at Hofstra University, Arad worked as a toy designer for three of the biggest toy companies of the time: Mattel, Tyco and Hasbro. In the late 1980s he started designing toys for Toy Biz, a company started by another Israeli, Ike Perlmutter, and designed toys, including Rollerblade Baby and My Pretty Ballerina.
4. He designed a line of X-Men action figures.
Arad designed a set of X-Men figures for Toy Biz, and the company eventually became Marvel's exclusive toy designer and manufacturer.
Avi Arad and Matt Tolmac at a press conference for The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012. (Photo: Ken Ishii/Getty Images)
5. His first show was about superheroes of a different era ... sort of.
The first show Arad produced was a cartoon called King Arthur and the Knights of Justice, about robotic versions of the Knights of the Round Table.
6. His first movie was X-Men.
Sticking with the team that got him in the comic biz to begin with, Marvel's first movie under Arad was 2000's X-Men, which starred Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Halle Berry as Storm. It spawned five sequels and prequels not including The Wolverine, a hit all on its own.
Avi Arad with Ang Lee, who directed the first Hulk movie, in 2003. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
7. He hit it huge with Spider-Man.
The original 2002 movie, with Tobey Maguire as the webbed one, was nominated for an Academy Award for visual effects. Arad has been credited as the producer of all of the Spider-Man movies since, including the rebooted series The Amazing Spider-Man.
8. He left Marvel in 2006, but still produces their movies.
Arad created his own production company, but still is credited as an executive producer on all of Marvel's films. "The company was growing and I didn’t like committees and I was 60 ..." he told Deadline. "I took a walk and thought, ‘I’m too old for this.’"
9. He brought Bratz to the big screen.
Among the other non-Marvel productions he's mounted since he left are The Killing Floor, directed by fellow Israeli Gideon Raff, as well as Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures.
10. He wrote the lyrics to the theme song for the Pac-Man cartoon.
11. Arad doesn't want to see Spider-Man fight crime with The Avengers.
He told Total Film (via Screenrant): "I for one don’t see the value for us in it. I think we’re doing such a good job with the Spider-Man Universe. Spider-Man is arguably the number one character in the world. He shouldn’t make a cameo.”
12. He'll be busy until at least 2018.
That's when The Amazing Spider-Man 3 is scheduled to be released, which will take Arad right to his 70th birthday. Not bad for a guy who got his start reading comic books as a kid.
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