Marvel’s universe of superhero movies is one of the most popular franchises of all time. Audiences around the world are captivated by the adventures of heroes who physically transform, walk the halls of alien worlds, and battle with futuristic technology. Integral to this fantastic world are visual effects. Only the very best visuals and artistry will keep such incredible stories believable. Marvel’s secret? One determined Latina.
Victoria Alonso immigrated from Argentina alone when she was just 19. She came to study philosophy and theater, but encountered difficulty with acting. Producers said she was either too fat or too skinny, too Latina or not Latina enough. So she decided to become one of the people calling the shots. Despite already working three jobs, she plunged forward.
No Job Too Small
Her strategy was (and still is) “fill the gap.” If there is a need, fill it. Never let your ego get in the way. She got one of her first jobs because an assistant to a company executive had a broken leg and the fax machine was out of reach. Even now, as Marvel’s Executive VP of Visual Effects, she makes the coffee if that’s a gap to fill.
As an executive producer on all Marvel films, Victoria coordinates talent across countries and cultures to bring imaginative imagery to the big screen. She fosters an environment where everyone, from personal assistants to other executives, contribute ideas.
Solving Problems Every Day
Each movie presents its own visual challenges. In Captain America: The First Avenger, Victoria’s favorite hero-origin movie, the skinny Steve Rogers transforms into America’s beefcake. Iron Man 3 had an array of Iron Man suits, each with its own style of movement. In Guardians of the Galaxy, two of the major characters are a genetically engineered raccoon and a walking tree! Never does Victoria say something can’t be done. It is her job to create what isn’t there; the possibilities are endless.
A Dearth of Female Role Models
When she was a young woman, she had one role model: Kathy Kennedy, the producer for E.T. and Schindler’s List. Victoria recently told leading visual effects professionals at the Visual Effect Society world summit to hire more women. Men and women complement one another, need each other, and women bring creative balance. She tries to speak whenever possible so she can inspire young women and provide an example.
According to Victoria, it isn’t discrimination that discourages women. She told Latina Executive magazine she has never been denigrated for her sex or heritage — rather, it’s the need for 12, 16, and even 20 hours work days. The profession is taxing for parents of either sex, but it can be done. Victoria herself has a 4-year-old daughter. Her big decision to join Marvel, back in 2008, was made flippantly because she didn’t care what she worked on next as long as she could stay close to home.
That decision led to a global phenomenon. Marvel films are showered with awards in many categories, including effects. The Avengers, a ground-breaking superhero team-up movie, is the third highest-grossing film of all time.
Maybe The Avengers will forever be the highlight of her career. But maybe the executive VP is going to call upon her creative energy and passion to deliver another breakthrough production. As she said at the Visual Effects Society summit, “I get lucky every day. We underestimate our own capabilities.”