Thursday January 31, 2013
By MICHAEL CHEANG
Fans of Marvel’s characters rejoice – there are some exciting new animated shows coming your way.
REMEMBER that exhilarating rush of fun and excitement you felt after you watched The Avengers movie last year? If you are looking for more of that, then look no further than the upcoming line-up of Marvel animated TV shows this year on Disney XD (Astro CH617).
According to Cort Lane, vice president of television and animation production for Marvel, 2013 promises to be an exciting year for fans of Marvel and cartoons in general, as the comic publishing giant looks to ride on the wave of popularity garnered by the success of The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man movies in 2012.
The three series’ that have been lined up for 2013 are Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk And The Agents Of S.M.A.S.H., and Marvel’s Avengers Assemble. Of the three shows, Ultimate Spider-Man is the only one that is not a brand new show, having recently started its second season in the United States.
Lane said during a phone interview that the success of the recent Marvel feature films has managed to widen Marvel’s audience to not just comic fanboys, but to kids and non-comic fans as well.
“The movies have been so successful, and kids love them as well! We’ve pick the elements (in the movie) that worked well, and incorporated them in our shows,” said Lane. “We have certainly been inspired by Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of Iron Man, and Nick Fury is so integral to the movie, so we put those elements in our shows as well. Agent Phil Coulson is also a big character in Ultimate Spider-Man, and is played by Clark Gregg himself!”
According to Lane, Ultimate Spider-Man has been doing very well in Malaysia, and it’s a show that is resonating with kids worldwide. “There have been certain things we’ve done with that show that haven’t been done with Spider-Man in a show or a film before, like making it funnier, and forming a link with the rest of the Marvel universe,” said Lane. “We’ve also got characters like Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, and Wolverine appearing in Ultimate Spider-Man, which we’re doing more of in season two!”
One of the two new shows being rolled out this year is Hulk And The Agents of S.M.A.S.H. (which according to Lane, stands for “whatever Hulk wants it to stand for!”).
“The Hulk was the breakout character in the Avengers movie, and since then we’ve been transforming the character both in the comics and in the shows from an angry monster to more of a hero,” said Lane.
“In this series, he is surrounded by other Hulks, who form a team and a family of sorts. The show has a lot of comedy, a lot of world destroying threats, and of course, a lot of smashing!”
The Hulk is not the only character from the blockbuster Avengers movie that is getting the animated treatment. Marvel Avengers Assemble is a new show that focuses on the main characters from the movie, and then some. “The show takes a lot of cues from the movie. Its tone and the characters are very much inspired by the movie,” Lane explained, adding that the leader of the group will be Iron Man, with Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and rookie character Falcon (who will be a major character in the next Captain America movie) making up the rest of the team.
“The show has some of the most amazing animation that Marvel has ever done, with a very cinematic look and feel, and a little bit more realistic in terms of human proportions.”
Lane, who has been a fan of Marvel’s comics since 10 and whose first comic book was The Avengers #161 back in 1977, reckons that the reason Marvel’s characters are so popular is because people can relate to them. For instance, Peter Parker is just an average high school kid with teenage problems, who just happens to save the world once in a while.
“Marvel characters are unique in that they are so flawed, so real and so relatable that you just can’t help but care about their fate,” he said. “You want them to win that much more because they have so much to work against.”
Besides the movie aspect, the Marvel animation team also works closely with the comic publishing side of the company, and have even incorporated many storylines and plots from the comics. In fact, Brian Michael Bendis, writer for the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series, is one of the consultants on the Ultimate Spider-Man show as well. “We’ve incorporated some things we liked from the comic to the show, like the involvement of Nick Fury in Peter Parker’s life, the new version of the Green Goblin as a big monster and also the portrayal of Aunt May in the comic,” said Lane, who would still rather not to just blindly copy what the movies or comics do for the TV shows. “The primary audience for comics in the US are adults, but in the case of the show, we are trying to reach out to kids, so we have to tone it down and add a few other cool elements as well. With these animated shows, we’re really trying to create the best show for kids, and if adult fans can enjoy it as well, then that’s even better!” he concluded.
You can catch Marvel’s animated shows on Disney XD (Astro CH 617). Check your Astro guide for specific airtimes.