FIVE QUESTIONS: MAN OF ACTION
Man of Action Studios has proven itself with the hits “Ben 10” and “Generator Rex,” and now they take on an especially intriguing project — “Ultimate Spider-Man,” a fresh animated-show take on the iconic wall-crawling superhero from Marvel Comics. The team will be the supervising producers for the first season of the show but it won’t reach the air on Disney XD until 2012. That’s a long way off, but here’s an e-mail interview I conducted with the team to get a sense of their compass points for a show that is a priority for the new leadership at Marvel Television.
GB: Spider-Man has such a long history on the page now and so many artistic interpretations, from Steve Ditko and John Romita on through Todd McFarlane and John Romita Jr. and Mark Bagley and Paolo Rivera. Then there’s the previous animated-show versions and the Hollywood feature films and even the memorable work in video games at this point. Can you talk about the process of finding this new version?
MOA: With Marvel Television, there’s definitely a new kind of autonomy in place, so we’re very much in a position where we’re starting from a clean slate. Man of Action is very aware of what’s worked and what hasn’t worked in the past — that kind of property analysis is part of what we do creatively as a company — so we’re pretty confident that we can avoid all the various land mines that exist. And, of course, the folks at Marvel are more than aware of this stuff too. At the same time, everyone involved has their favorite version of Spider-Man, obviously we’re all huge fans of the character, and there’s probably room for considering all of them and distilling them down into something very clean and focused for the show. We’re all working together to roll out something very cool, something no one has ever seen.
GB: Tone is such a fundamental decision. How would you describe the tone of this new series?
MOA: At this point, we can safely say that the tone of “Ultimate Spider-Man,” the show, will be unlike any iteration of the property that has existed before. We’ve got a specific mandate to make this show, in a word, unique. So that’s what we’re doing … and we’re doing it in ways you’d never imagine. We’re going places that no Spider-Man cartoon — or probably any superhero cartoon — has ever gone before. For all of us at Man of Action, that’s a lot of what makes this exciting for us.
GB: Will you start with the origin story or…?
MOA: Between the comics, the films, the TV shows, the video games and more, everyone pretty much knows Spider-Man’s origin by now, so it’s not exactly a priority to start at square one. It’s a fundamental aspect of the character and it will be addressed, but the way in which it’s addressed within the show is just one of many surprises that we’ve got in store.
G.B.: Without giving away any surprises, talk a bit about a moment, a scenario or a plot point that has you especially excited, just to get fans as intrigued as you are.
If we mentioned *anything* right now, we’d be giving away a surprise, not to mention violating all kinds of confidentiality agreements! Needless to say, we’re psyched about the overall approach we’re taking and the fact that we’re going to do something different from anything that’s been done before. No one will be able to see this coming, which is a big part of what Man of Action brings to the table to begin with: unpredictability.
GB: Who’s the most underappreciated Spider-Man villain?
MOA: Spider-Man has one of the coolest rogues galleries ever, so it’s difficult to come up with any of them that you could consider to be “underappreciated.” Over 50 years of Spider-Man comics means that all of the classic villains have had great stories told about them because they’re compelling characters. But where the show is concerned, there are definitely some big surprises in store, specifically in terms of the villains that Spidey will go up against. And remember, we’ve got the entirety of the Marvel Universe to work with in this show. Should be a fun ride for everyone.
And, for the sake of nostalgia, here’s a flashback to a bit of Spider-Man animation history…
— Geoff Boucher
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