NEW YORK -- They are icons in every sense of the word: world-renowned, adored and admired.
Spider-Man and the NYPD. Thor and the FDNY.
For Marvel Entertainment LLC, New York City has always been the spiritual center of its comic book creations. Now the company has put some of its marquee heroes in tandem with some of the city's best-known landmarks and agencies for a line of clothing and merchandise.
Paul Gitter, president of Marvel Entertainment's consumer products for North America, said the move to tie fictional characters with the real New York is a step in breaking out of comic books, games, TV and film.
"Marvel is trying to better connect with the consumer at a highly localized level," he said. "Instead of just going out there, creating great Spider-Man products, we're trying to speak to people in as much a personal way as possible."
That move includes the recently announced partnership with NYC & Co. – the marketing, tourism and partnership organization for New York – that will see Marvel characters paired with police, fire and sanitation departments as well as the city's taxi and limousine commission, amid backdrops showing some of the city's landmarks, including the Empire State Building.
On one T-shirt, for example, a full-color Thor leaps forth in front of a monochrome image of the Brooklyn Bridge, between an FDNY logo and the phrase "The Mighty Never Rest." A portion of the proceeds from the sales will go to the New York City Police Foundation and the FDNY Foundation.
George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Co., said blending New York's icons with Marvel's seamlessly blends fact and fiction.
"New York City serves as home to many of the super heroes in the Marvel universe so it's only natural to team up these characters known of protecting the city from evil villains with the real men and women that keep this great city operating safely," he said.
In combining the real and fictional characters, it helped "create something that is consistent with the brand personality of the New York heroes and, of course, the superheroes that exist" on paper, TV or in film, Fertitta said.
"We've got mugs and cups and bags and notebooks and hats, bags and wallets," Gitter said of the launch. "The typical items that a tourist might buy that are easy to carry around."