While no stranger to music videos at this point, Stan Lee's World of Heroes has officially released it's first major music video event, an action-packed collaboration with artists Vy Nguyen and Jason Chu titled "Stan Lee's World of Heroes Presents ... No Hero Now". Like several former installments, the story focuses on a person gifted with supernatural abilities -- and our hero this time is Rian Leung (Jessika Van from CW's The Messengers), a former assassin who finds herself taking on the role of savior in ways she hadn't quite expected. But while our beloved Generalissimo opens it up with a special message, it's the ladies that shine brightest in this kick-ass video.
"I thrive on the action," says Van. It's thrilling to be able to express my character's emotions physically. In real life, it would come with some serious consequences." While everything on set is fun and games when it comes to producing a music video full of choreographed action, some pitfalls worked in favor of the cast and crew. Says Van:
The week before we began filming, I hurt my thumb sparring. All the stunt guys kept telling me it was probably fine, but last minute I thought I better check it out just in case. I showed up on set and the first words out of my mouth were, "My thumb is broken. I gotta wear this splint. What if Rian wears some cool ass gloves?" It was a challenge for all of us to work around, but I like to think the gloves were the finishing touch to Rian’s look.
A story about overcoming the odds and becoming a hero in the face of one's own reluctance, No Hero Now is one of the most high-level videos that World of Heroes has produced thus far, with intense stunt choreography and a woman of color in the starring role.
The video's writer and director, Jennie Kong, has previously worked with Stan Lee to create videos for the World of Heroes YouTube channel. A masterful up and coming storyteller, Kong has a knack for creating compelling stories based on fantasy and superhuman subjects, and that's no mistake. "I’m most passionate about telling stories of hope and heart in the least expected places," Kong explains. "Whether it’s a video game or a digital project, I love exploring these themes within grounded dark realities to the imaginary moments in wonderland."
When it comes to working with Stan Lee himself, Kong paints a picture of an encouraging, supportive mentor. "It’s been an honor to be able to write/direct projects for Stan’s channel and work with [Producer Yuka Kobayashi], Stan and his team." The creative mind partially responsible for most of our favorite superheroes is apparently still hard at work.
Stan always loves to joke so you do forget that the man standing in front of you has played a big part in some of your favorite characters and stories growing up. He calls comic books 'modern fairytales' which is such a fun lens to work through and allows for creative presentations of mythologies, which I love.
When it comes to inspiration, these ladies go beyond the common capes of comic books and find something meaningful in their own personal experiences. Kong notes the incredible Shigeru Miyamoto (one of the top creatives at Nintendo who is responsible for several of their best-selling titles), saying that "his work encouraged me to not shy away from being hopeful, creative and imaginative." Meanwhile, Van looked back on her own childhood, finding a source of "super strength" in her parents:
I never thought of growing up with a hero or heroine, but looking back, I realize
that my parents instilled a strength and work ethic in me that I can't escape even when I want to. They must have snuck it in like super ninjas, but one thing I know is they have never failed to show me I have the power to make my own reality.
That, in essence, is the truth that our heroine faces by the end of the video. Battle-worn and seemingly beaten, Rian is a realistic heroine who somehow makes an impact in under five minutes.
Check out No Hero Now on Stan Lee's World of Heroes -- and if you're headed to Comikaze, make sure to catch the official panel, hosted by yours truly! Joining the conversation will be writer/director Jennie Kong, Jessika Van, Leverage's Beth Riesgraf, Tony Messenger, Vy Nguyen, Jacon Chu, and Ramon Govea. Come join us on Sunday, November 1st in room 511ABC at 12PM!