Jessie Robertson chats with Cort Lane and Stephen Wacker about Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy animated series…
Jessie: Hey guys how’s it going?
Stephen: Hey, I was just looking at the web site and saw Peep Show is coming back; I’m excited.
Jessie: (laughs) Yeah we cover it all! It’s awesome to get to talk to you guys about this upcoming show.
Cort: Well, thank you for talking to us and for your interest.
Jessie: So, first question: I’m wondering when the Guardians showed up on Avengers Season 1 and Ultimate Spider-Man, is that really how this show got kicked off?
Cort: Go ahead Stephen.
Stephen: No, go ahead I wasn’t here when this got kicked off!
Cort: Okay, there’s really two phases: one, we understood that a Guardians movie was coming, that was one, so we wanted to see the Guardians in a variety of shows, even way back to Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, so we began to tease the audience across all the shows, and then we understood about a year before the movie released, that we had something really special and we needed to start developing an animated series. Because we suspected it would be a hit, well we knew that it was weird and different and exciting, so we knew we wanted to start developing an animated series.
Jessie: Very cool; well, I remember the Korvac episode from Avengers, and it was like we’re getting to see the Guardians interacting together on TV, which was just really cool.
Cort: Yeah, they’re really fun to play with because they’re more anti-heroes than the core characters we usually get to work with and they get to be really funny because frankly they’re weird.
Jessie: Yeah, well one of them only has 1 line of dialogue, which is in itself just fun.
Cort: Props to Kevin Michael Richardson who squeezes every bit of meaning and emotion from every “I Am Groot” because we record each of them separately; we don’t just have a library of “I Am Groots” that we use; he understands each context and every time delivers a different take on it.
Jessie: That’s really awesome he does that.
Cort: Yeah, if you think about it, it’s a really big acting challenge.
Jessie: So, with this show, will the characters be characterized pretty much as they were in the movie or more of an amalgamation of those personas with kid humor mixed in, like Ultimate Spider-Man?
Cort: The movie ends, on this note; a little bit of bad, a little bit of good; when we pitched this series to our writer Marty Eisenberg, we focused on bringing those characters to the screen, but we still like to tell our own story, using little pieces from the movie, little pieces from the comics, anything we think can tell an exciting story. I think the tone of the show is, like we’re getting away with something.
Stephen: It’s certainly for a general audience; we’re not doing Jackson Pollock jokes. If you come out of that film, you will recognize these characters.
Jessie: I see what you’re saying because I’ll watch Ultimate Spider-Man with my daughter and she’s laughing at the asides; like the Spidey with the big head, drawn kiddie style;
Stephen: Oh good! I watch Spider-Man with my daughter too.
Jessie: And we’re both laughing at Deadpool, but I’m laughing for different reasons.
Stephen: Oh great – well, this is getting into a little bit of a tangent, but, for the younger audience, the animation is going to be their way into the Marvel Universe, how they’ll be introduced to a lot of ideas and concepts they’ll see when they move onto the comics, to the TV series, and when they move onto the films and then whatever comes after the films; so we take that responsibility very seriously, knowing we’re the first hint into the Marvel Universe.
Jessie: Well, just coming from someone who’s watched these with a child, going back to Spider-Man where the Guardians first appeared, that’s how she knows, when she says “Rocket’s not actually a raccoon; he just looks like one.”
Cort: Oh, is that right?
Jessie: Oh yeah; so in that regards, you guys are doing a tremendous job bridging that together.
Stephen: Great, thank you.
Jessie: I have been watching a lot of the clips upcoming for the show and I didn’t see Thanos, so I was kind of curious , as he’s sort of like the big bad for the Marvel movies, as they don’t use him that much but you know something’s coming; will he be involved in the show at all?
Cort: Oh yeah! You get a lot of him in episode two of the two-part pilot, then he comes back in a big way later in the season; he’s sort of our big bad, as they only engage a few times but he’s sort of looming over everything that’s happening as they go on this scavenger hunt through the cosmos. You sort of know that he’s what they are going to have to come up against at the end.
Jessie: Oh cool.
Stephen: Well, with Quill in particular, Thanos is like this big rumor out in the universe and we’ll see with Quill, even he underestimated the kind of power they’re playing with is when it really hits the fan.
Jessie: Okay, I’ll try to wrap it up with you guys; I know you have to go, but I was noticing the names Stan Lee and Eric Radomski as producers, I was a huge Batman: The Animated Series fan growing up, as I think most were my age, how was it working with Eric on the show?
Stephen: Well, Eric’s been VP of the animation since the studio started, is that right Cort?
Cort: Yeah, he helped build Marvel Animation Studio and besides being creatively involved, he drives production and puts together the production teams as well as supervises post very carefully, so yeah, even when we started Ultimate Spider-Man, we also brought in Paul Dini so we had Paul and Eric.
Jessie: Oh wow!
Cort: Which was like crazy exciting, but with Eric on this show, since you brought him up, wanted to do something different visually with the characters which matches the craziness and weirdness of the show and all the character interactions, which are sometimes conflict, sometimes funny as well as do a lot of the CG work with all the robots and spaceships which takes a lot of composite work with the animation and then on top of that, he wanted to layer in a lot of visual effects; so, he really pushed us on this show to do something more dynamic and different.
Jessie: well, I’ve watched all the behind the scenes of the Batman: Animated Series and you can tell he’s a workhorse with all the paintings and visuals he did there, so it’s not surprising to hear all that.
Stephen: Eric really poured himself into this series, along with the supervising director Neil Riley have both worked very hard to give this show its own unique visual identity.
Jessie: The clips I’ve seen looking tremendous and unique so I’m very excited to see it.
Cort: Thank you.
Jessie: Okay, before we go, if I could have one selfish question before we go, I was looking at an interview you did Cort, and you mentioned your favorite character was Hawkeye, and he’s mine too, since I was a little kid and then I was looking over Stephen’s work as Editor and saw you worked over Hawkeye’s book with Matt Fraction and I just wanted to thank you for the work done on that book.
Stephen: Thank you, I knew that Hawkeye was Cort’s favorite so I wanted to make that book as good as possible.
Cort: And David Aja’s work on that book was tremendous. The thing I’ve always loved about Hawkeye, which there’s a lot of that with the Guardians too, is there’s a sordid past, he’s a bit of an outlaw, he’s irreverent, he questioned authority, and also he was a big time superhero without any superpowers, just based on skill and hard work ,and I always found that exciting and different which you get a lot in Guardians too, irreverent outlaws with sordid pasts and snarky comments.
Stephen: Which you can see in Cort’s work as he no real skills at anything but he works hard
Cort: (Laughs) I do work very hard, and unlike Steve who has indiscernable talent.
Jessie: (laughs) That’s awesome; I liked finding a kindred spirit. Well, thank you guys, I appreciate it
Stephen: Thank you.
Guardians of the Galaxy premieres on Disney XD on November 7th
Many thanks to Cort Lane and Stephen Wacker for taking the time for this interview.
You can watch the first episode of Guardians of the Galaxy here…
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