Marvel Comics, Propensity Modeling, Regression Modeling

TBCC 2019 Avengers, Algorithms, and Analytics: Panel Recap

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This Panel was held on:

Friday, August 2, 2019 at 9 PM – 10 PM

During the Tampa Bay Comic Convention 2019, held at the Tampa Convention Center.

The Panelists were:

Tom Ferrara (@pancake_analytics) , Kalyn Hundley (@kehundley08), Andy Polak (@polak_andy)

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I want to take a quick moment to discuss the panelists.  I love giving as many different point of views as possible to these data science panels.  Without this variety of point of views it’s more of a lecture and less of a discussion.  This mix of panelists gave the audience the data science view, the tech industry view and the biological sciences view.  Best part about this is the avengers brought us all together.


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When I pitched this panel the idea was what happens when a data scientist gets hold of the infinity gauntlet?  Pictured above is a visual representation of how I’m going to use each stone.

Use the Time Stone to predict the box office sales for the MCU and determine the top influencers for success.

Use the Power Stone to eliminate low hanging fruit.

Use the Soul Stone to uncover the underlying attributes of the marvel universe.

Use the Space Stone to transport the marvel universe to their closest match.

Use the Reality Stone to show you the marvel universe in a new light, perfectly balanced.

Use the Mind Stone to convince you this matching worked.


Time and Power Stones: What is influencing the MCU box office success?

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I waked through those in attendance the output of regression model I built to unlock the the key influences of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and their relation to box office sales.

Considered influencers:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Scores (Critic and Audience)
  • Movie Release
  • Time since last MCU release
  • Solo Movie Releases
  • Was Iron Man in the movie?

Two Key Influencers stand out:

Having Iron Man in an MCU Movie drives in $100.5MM

The further along in the series drives in at least $216.8MM.  Story Development matters here’s the statistical proof!


Soul and Space Stones: Refitting the Marvel Power Scale

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During this panel I walked the crowd through the output of a second machine learning algorithm, a propensity score.

Ingredients in the batter:

  • Marvel Contests of Champions (MCC) Power Index Levels
  • MCC Health
  • MCC Attack
  • Marvel Battle Royale (MBR) Twitter Poll:
  • TTL Votes per round, Avg TTL Votes

Flipping the pancakes:

Predict the likelihood twitter would vote for a character

Re-purposing this score to apply it to characters not in the MBR Twitter Poll


Reality and Mind Stones: Perfectly Balancing the Marvel Universe

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This approach goes beyond ranking by attack, or defense.  This approach takes all those attributes together as well as the fan opinion.

If you only look at attack… you get skewed results

If you only look at defense… you get skewed results

A little bit of good… a little bit of crazy…

Old Man Howard the Duck?

Doctor Octopus the Demi-God?


Marvel Rapid Fire: Marvel Analytics Comparisons

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This was one of my all time favorite segments out of all the comic cons I’ve had the pleasure of paneling at.  Quickly I would show the audience an analytics technique and show them the Marvel equivalent.  I think this technique is very effective in reinforcing our learning and opening up data science to a new audience.

Everything we just went through were machine learning techniques

Machine Learning is the Taskmaster of Data Science

Learns from past data, trains, and attempts to apply this training to new data

When something new is introduced it takes time to catch up


A/B Testing and Incremental ROI is the plot of Civil War

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A neural network is Ultron… learns from observational data & figures its own solution

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Dr. Strange ran a logistic regression to find out the odds-on Titan

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Into the Spider verse was the perfect implementation of a random forest

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Game Time: Marvel Team-Up: Overview

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One of the best ways to reinforce learning is through a game.  During this panel I wanted to reinforce the learning from the propensity score.

I asked for 5 volunteers.  On the screen were 3 marvel characters.  2 characters on screen were look-a-likes (statistically speaking).  Volunteers did their best to convince the panel of which two characters should “Team-Up” or in other words identify the 2 statistically closest characters.

For participating all volunteers received a hero-clix figure of their choice.


I want to personally thank everyone who attended the panel in Tampa, at the Tampa Comic Convention.  I look forward to meeting again in 2020.


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