Monday June 12, 2017

'Science should be part of our culture': meet Marvel's go-to science consultant

Dr. Cliff V. Johnson is a scientific consultant on several superhero films.

Dr. Cliff V. Johnson is a scientific consultant on several superhero films. (USC Press)

Listen 18:53

Part of going to see a superhero or fantasy-themed summer blockbuster movie is the suspension of disbelief.

The fun part of these movies is the very idea that there's another world out there, where the basic laws of physics don't apply. Given that, it might surprise you to know that the people who make big blockbusters and sci-fi and fantasy TV shows are more frequently turning to actual scientists to help them shape those alternate worlds we see onscreen.

It's the kind of thing that Dr. Clifford V. Johnson has been doing for years. He's a professor of physics at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He has consulted on TV shows such as Marvel's Agent Carter, Lost, and the new National Geographic series Genius, which is based on the life of Albert Einstein, and the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series. Johnson has also lent his expertise to big budget movies including The Avengers: Infinity War and the new Thor movie that comes out this fall.

Tom Power talks to Johnson about what he tells filmmakers about science.

— Produced by Dawna Dingwall