MARVEL UNIVERSE EXCLUSIVE: An Interview with Jeph Loeb

MARVEL UNIVERSE EXCLUSIVE: An Interview with Jeph Loeb

DisneyXD is destination TV on Sundays for Marvel Universe, a one-hour block featuring Ultimate Spider-Man and season two of The Avengers. In this exclusive interview, Marvel’s Jeph Loeb discusses the block and the importance of both shows.

SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: The last time we spoke, the Marvel Universe block wasn’t happening. What was the genesis of the idea?

JEPH LOEB: The idea is to bring the Marvel Universe to life; to find a destination that is exclusive out there in TV land on DisneyXD where we’ll be able to tell stories with some of the most talented people that are working in animation. It’s an extraordinarily talented group that we run very much the way we run a live action show. There’s a writer’s room, we break story together and it goes through a process of just coming up with the best scripts that we possibly can. In the case of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, it results in Marvel’s first step at making a Spider-Man show that is pure Marvel.
Every generation has a spider-Man show and a theme song in their head, but all of those shows were done by other companies that Marvel sometimes had some say over, and sometimes didn’t. This is really a chance where it’s just us guys.

SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: Okay, so who is this Spider-Man?
JEPH LOEB: This is a 16-year-old Peter Parker who has been Spider-Man for about a year. He’s doing a good job, he believes that he wants to be the best hero that he can be and he gets an opportunity from Nick Fury to become, as we say, the “ultimate” Spider-Man; to get SHIELD-trained, to be part of a program that will sort of usher in the next generation of heroes. When you live in a world where Captain America and Thor and Iron Man are your inspirations, how you go from being a 16-year-old kid with all of Peter Parker’s trials and tribulations of high school, and friends and homework into really becoming the best Spider-Man that you can be is the journey.
The other element of the show that we’re having great fun with, is that because it’s Spidey, there’s a lot of opportunities for humor and I think people will be both surprised and delighted by how the blend of action/adventure and humor really works well. And really will be part of the signature of the shows we’re doing in the block. I should also point out that Drake Bell who plays both Peter and Spider-Man, is pretty extraordinary. He has brought that incredibly unique ability to capture the dramedy – even though you try and do the right thing, somehow you end up with a pie in your face. He manages to capture that so well, and at the same time he nails the Spider-Man quipping, as we refer to it. It’s amazing to watch his work in the booth and it’s very inspirational for the production people.

SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: The other part of the block, of course, is season two of THE AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES, which has really turned out to be a terrific show.

JEPH LOEB: We had a tremendous response to the first season and in that case the two people who have been really integral to the success of that show is Josh Fine, the producer; and Chris Yost, another big name from the comic book world. It’s gotten tremendous response and the second season picks up with the same concept of huge storylines, big action and great characters. Characters that we know with this little independent, tiny movie called THE AVENGERS coming out on May 4th. In a year where there is gigantic, spectacular Avengers movie from the creative genius of Joss Whedon and a brand new relaunch of Spider-Man that does deal with a younger Spider-Man, we just feel that the timing couldn’t be better for Marvel to have a block which uses our two biggest franchises of Spider-Man and The Avengers put together.

SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: In the comics, Spidey seems pretty much a contemporary, but in the series he’s a kid compared to The Avengers, right?

JEPH LOEB: He absolutely is. When he meets Iron Man for the first time, it’s awesome. He can’t believe it. It’s not just Iron Man, this is Peter Parker getting a chance to meet Tony Stark. We are actually playing up the element that Peter Parker is the kid who invented the web shooters, so he’s a bit of a scientific genius for a 16 year old kid, but to meet Tony Stark, that’s just meeting your favorite sports hero or any other hero in your life. So we really do get to see that kind of wish-fulfillment element that you often don’t get with a young hero, and see in him the hope for what he wants to be.

SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: Is there any cross-over with Spider-Man and The Avengers or has that ship sailed since production has wrapped on THE AVENGERS’ second season?

JEPH LOEB: Let’s just say that is a distinct possibility. I can tell you that it is absolutely designed to be all of one universe. There certainly were elements because AVENGERS season 2 was well underway when we started on SPIDER-MAN. There are a couple of elements that don’t quite fit together, kind of like the comic books, but certainly as time goes by folks will see, “Oh, that’s how that fits with that.”

SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: The animated AVENGERS is finished, right? There’s no season three currently in production.

JEPH LOEB: I can only tell you that we’re committed to The Avengers universe and that’s as far as I can go.

SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: C’mon, Jeph, that’s pretty vague.

JEPH LOEB: I think right now people should enjoy THE AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES.

SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: Moving on, do you see the live action movies as a real opportunity to put these shows on the map, so to speak?

JEPH LOEB: I think it’s a couple of things. First of all, we were very satisfied with the first season. In our first season DisneyXD was a new network that needed let folks know that this is a destination place for Marvel. Really what we’re excited about is not just the block, but the pairing of these shows. Spider-Man is a big, huge draw and, yes, absolutely, as soon as that Avengers movie opens, it is certainly our hope that folks are going to want to see more stories about The Avengers and they’ll be right there. I’m reminded very much, and you and I are both “of an age” that we’ll know what that means, there was a little show called FAMILY TIES that not a lot of people watched. Once they put it behind a monster show called THE COSBY SHOW, the two of them together took off. Very often television is about placing shows and making a destination something that people will want to come to. It’s certainly our hope that ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN not only has its own success, but that that success will also have the audience stick around for the second half hour for EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES.
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