‘Marvel’s Avengers Assemble': Disney XD series gets behind the mask

July 16, 2013 | 8:00 a.m.
132257 0001 Marvels Avengers Assemble: Disney XD series gets behind the mask

Falcon is the newest member of the lineup in "Marvel's Avengers Assemble," which otherwise features the same group that played well onscreen in Joss Whedon's "The Avengers." (Disney XD)

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In the episode "Ghost of a Chance," rookie Avenger Falcon stands alone to save his team and stop a full scale invasion of Earth. (Disney XD)

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Iron Man and Black Widow must learn a thing or two about belonging to a team. (Disney XD)

132257 30 Marvels Avengers Assemble: Disney XD series gets behind the mask

The Hulk and Hawkeye don't always see eye-to-eye in "Marvel's Avengers Assemble." (Disney XD)

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Iron Man, Travis Willingham (voice of Thor), Adrian Pasdar (voice of Iron Man/Tony Stark), Steven T. Seagle (Executive Producer/Man of Action Studios), Jeph Loeb (Executive Producer/Executive Vice President, Head of Marvel Television), Captain America, Troy Baker (voice of Hawkeye/Clint Barton), Laura Bailey (voice of Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff), Roger Craig Smith (voice of Captain America/Steve Rogers), Bumper Robinson (voice of Falcon/Sam Wilson), Fred Tatasciore (voice of Hulk/Bruce Banner). (Rick Rowell/Disney XD)

Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers 2″ won’t reach theaters until 2015, but fans looking for more from the heroes that made box office history in 2012 can catch the group — plus one new member — in animated form in Disney XD’s series “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble.”

The new show, which premiered July 7, isn’t the first animated series to feature the crime-fighting team, but it is the first to use virtually the same roster of characters that appeared in Whedon’s film, the $1-billion-plus hit that inspired critics like The Times’ Kenneth Turan, who described the movie as “smartly thought out and executed with verve and precision.”

The character Falcon joins the Whedon lineup for the new show. It’s one of the very few changes made by the creative team, and it plays into what’s happening in the Marvel cinematic universe without compromising the series’ overall direction.

“The reality for us is that it has to feel like Marvel — that’s the rule that we use,” says Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel Television and a longtime comic book creator and writer. “For us, at the moment, what Marvel means is epic adventure with a human spirit. You start with the people that are underneath the mask; that’s really what’s important. We’re not doing stories about capes and cowls. We’re telling stories about people that are extraordinary that are then caught in a more extraordinary situation.”

“Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” will feature prominently in Marvel TV’s Saturday morning panel at San Diego’s Comic-Con International.

Steven T. Seagle, one of the Man of Action writer-producers who works on the show, said that rather than worrying too much about fealty to the original source material or to Whedon’s movie, the show’s creative team is looking to do right by its cast of characters.

Iron Man, Travis Willingham (Voice of Thor), Adrian Pasdar (Voice Of Iron Man/Tony Stark), Steven T. Seagle (Executive Producer/Man of Action Studios), Jeph Loeb (Executive Producer/Executive Vice President, Head of Marvel Television), Captain America, Troy Baker (Voice of Hawkeye/Clint Barton), Laura Bailey (Voice of Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff), Roger Craig Smith (Voice of Captain America/Steve Rogers), Bumper Robinson (Voice of Falcon/Sam Wilson), Fred Tatasciore (Voice of Hulk/Bruce Banner). (Disney XD/Rick Rowell)

Iron Man, Travis Willingham (voice of Thor), Adrian Pasdar (voice of Iron Man/Tony Stark), Steven T. Seagle (executive producer, Man of Action Studios), Jeph Loeb (executive producer/executive vice president, head of marvel Television), Captain America, Troy Baker (voice of Hawkeye/Clint Barton), Laura Bailey (voice of Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff), Roger Craig Smith (voice of Captain America/Steve Rogers), Bumper Robinson (voice of Falcon/Sam Wilson), Fred Tatasciore (voice of Hulk/Bruce Banner). (Rick Rowell/Disney XD)

“The writers room doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about continuity,” he said. “The question is just: Would Captain America do that? Is that something Tony Stark would say? Is that the way Hulk behaves?”

That question of how to best honor the characters — and the creative decisions that other stars made in the same roles — weighs on the voice actors as well.

“Sure. I was trying to pay homage to Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal of Thor,” says Travis Willingham. “He brought such heart to the role, as well as that regal quality as the future king of Asgard trying to find his place.”

“I’m not trying to do an impression or a voice match or anything like that, but inherently, the writing of the show lends itself to having the character be a certain type,” says Roger Craig Smith, who voices Captain America.

There’s even a bit of healthy competition sparked by watching the actors cast in the live-action versions of their roles, according to Bumper Robinson, who plays the newest Avenger, Falcon — actor Anthony Mackie will bring the character to the screen in the upcoming sequel, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” due in 2014.

“I’ve already seen some pictures of [Mackie] doing green screen work and I’m like, ‘You know what, I would’ve held that cable so differently,'” Robinson said. It’s one of the fun things and the most horrifyingly frustrating things about being an actor.”

Rather than recording their dialog in a sound booth without the rest of the cast present, the “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” actors perform in a face-to-face, roundtable-mic style that lets them play off of one another, responding to each other’s facial expressions and physical presences that Pasdar, who voices Iron Man/Tony Stark, believes fosters a healthy energy.

“I think the idea that you have about what he’s going to be gets turned upside down once you’re in the room with the guys and the script’s in front of you and the situation’s in front of you,” says Pasdar, who also voiced the character for the-now-defunct G4’s version of “Iron Man.” “It becomes very organic. [Robert Downey Jr.] will tell you the same thing. You have an idea about it, but once you’re in the suit — so to speak — it becomes what it is.”

His castmates seem to agree.

“To be able to look into some else’s eyes when you’re interacting with each other makes all of the difference,” adds Laura Bailey, the voice of the Black Widow.

Iron Man and the Black Widow must learn a thing or two about belonging to a team. (Disney XD)

Iron Man and Black Widow must learn a thing or two about belonging to a team. (Disney XD)

“It’s like music,” says Fred Tatasciore, who has played the Hulk possibly longer than any one actor through numerous animated iterations. “I can listen to someone playing the drums and try to do something off of it, but if I see him playing the drums and I see where he’s going with it, I can do a little improv, a little something different with my timing. Good acting is reacting.”

– Jevon Phillips

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Comments


One Response to ‘Marvel’s Avengers Assemble': Disney XD series gets behind the mask

  1. MarcusStrong85 says:

    AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!!

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