|Avengers #1 cover by Dustin Weaver|
By Paul Montgomery
They’re the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and the world needs them now as it never has before.
As the year draws to a close, Captain America rallies the biggest team of Avengers in the team’s history. With the planet about to be rocked by a cosmic threat, it’s going to take the full force of Marvel’s best and brigh
How many Avengers does it take to save the world? It all depends on the threat. So, what does it tell you when the upcoming AVENGERS series includes a planet-size cast of characters including recent heavy-hitters, past favorites, and all new warriors?
We spoke to writer Jonathan Hickman about assembling the team in part two of our three part discussion.
Marvel.com: So, we’re looking at a huge cast of characters in AVENGERS. You have a whole command structure and field teams mapped out. What’s the formula for assembling those rosters, and how do you plan to roll that out, at least initially?
Jonathan Hickman: Well, it all starts with Iron Man and Captain America, with Tony and Steve. They can smell it in the air. They sense in the same way that we in our everyday lives know that something is not right with society. We know that things aren’t functioning properly. We have an impending sense that it’s possible that calamity is right around the corner. It’s a very real thing in society right now. Whether that’s a result of too much dystopian fiction, whether that’s a result of too many horror movies, or whether that’s financial calamity, whatever it is, it’s a very real thing in society, and this book very much starts with that: the idea that very bad things are on the horizon. As a result, they begin constructing a failsafe against that, and what happens is it is triggered, and that means they have to assemble the Avengers World.
|Avengers #1 preview art by Jerome Opena|
They enact the Avengers World scenario where they have to gather all the guys together. That’s kind of the first three issues, the inciting incident and the team-has-assembled kind of deal, and then we back off for three issues and we reintroduce some of the newer characters, and then we have another three-issue arc after that where the whole team is together again, and then we have three issues after that where it’s more an introduction to the other characters again, the ones that we haven’t visited yet. Anyway, it’s kind of a way to keep the velocity of the book up and at the same time introduce everyone that people may not be familiar with or brand-new characters that the readers don’t know anything about. Again, all of that is leading to something further down the road.
Marvel.com: Somewhere in there you said “newer characters.” How new?
Jonathan Hickman: Some of the characters are brand-new. I would say maybe four characters that people have never seen before, and four or five that are new iterations of old Marvel characters, and then some classic Avengers characters—you know, the movie Avengers—and then some Avengers that we haven’t seen in a while.
Marvel.com: Do you look at the characterizations from the film?
Jonathan Hickman: All of this stuff kind of feeds on itself. No one really writes Tony Stark that isn’t hearing Robert Downey Jr. in their head anymore I don’t think. Whether that’s for good or for bad, I would argue obviously it’s for good. That’s just how he gets written. I think Captain America’s still a bit looser. I thought the Hulk stuff was solid. All of this stuff trickles up and down. I’m not sure that we’ll ever get to the amalgamation of all these characters, but all of it influences the other stuff.
Marvel.com: You’ve spoken about lending diversity to these teams, adding more female characters. Given the pool of characters you had to choose from, how many of them simply leapt out at you for inclusion versus you having to scour the depths or create new heroes and heroines? Is it difficult achieving real diversity?
|Avengers #5 cover by Dustin Weaver|
Jonathan Hickman: I would say sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s very very easy. I think that there are certain characters that are obvious and easy choices. I think Captain Marvel right now is an easy and obvious choice, because she’s not only popular but well-loved and everybody understands how important of a character that is. When I do something like add Smasher, which is now a human female, to the cast, obviously what I did is I took what was a traditionally male character and I made it a female character. The reason why I did that is because I needed a character that fit that type, that fit that scale, and by that what I mean is a quote unquote “cosmic” character, and on top of that I needed a way to tie that character into the Earth as opposed to being an alien or whatever, and so I made the changes there. But yes, it’s much more difficult than it should be because the vast majority of Marvel characters are white male super heroes. Part of our job is to protect that IP and move it forward. We always try new things, and we fail a lot, and sometimes we succeed. The hope is that our successes outweigh our failures.
Marvel.com: Let’s talk bad guys. Any mainstay major Avengers rogues that you’re excited to play around with now or in the future?
Jonathan Hickman: In the future yes. In the short-term I am for the most part going to be introducing a lot of new villains that help get the point across of what the themes of the book are. But yeah, down the road obviously I’m going to be revisiting some of the cooler guys.
Marvel.com: Any individual characters or even relationships that sort of surprised you at the writing table?
|Avengers #6 variant cover by Daniel Acuna|
Jonathan Hickman: I wish I didn’t have a propensity for falling in love with bad guys so much. [Laughs] I do that. I don’t know why I’m surprised by it, but of course that’s happening. I really like writing Iron Man a lot. I like writing Bruce Banner a lot. It’s not going to mean anything to anybody yet, but I like writing Smasher a lot. I love writing Sam and Roberto, Sunspot and Cannonball. Shang-Chi is a lot of fun. It’s just a cool cast.
Part of the thing, we even say it in the second issue, is these guys have been together six hours. What kind of teamwork could we possibly expect, right? It’s something that they kind of grow into. Right now everybody’s nice and happy and getting along, but everybody’s still trying to figure out where they stand and all that kind of stuff. Beyond the first big thing that happens, where I’m at in writing the book I’m doing the second big thing right now. Dealing with that has been much more difficult because they’re having to work together. So they haven’t found it yet. I haven’t found it yet, but we’ll get there.
Tomorrow, Jonathan wraps up by discussing the place of AVENGERS in the larger Marvel Universe and more!