Marvel.com continues the countdown to the release of The Super Hero Squad Show: Quest For The Infinity Sword! Volume 1 DVD on July 13, 2010. Each day until the DVD hits stores, we'll feature some super special bonus Squaddie content you won't want to miss!
Meet executive producer, true Marvel fanboy and animation aficionado Cort Lane, one of the talented names behind "The Super Hero Squad Show." He took some time to sit down with us and answer the burning questions that every Super Hero Squad fan is dying to know. Read on to find out everything you need to know from behind the scenes of "The Super Hero Squad Show!"
Marvel.com: What is it about this show that sets it apart from other super hero shows? What is so unique about it?
Cort Lane: It’s the first Marvel animated show that explores all the different places and characters in the Marvel Universe. So you get to see the X-Men hanging out with Iron Man, the Fantastic Four and Hulk. Then go to the Savage Land and the Negative Zone. And really, we do a lot more of that in season two, which is something that is really exciting to look forward to.
Beyond that though, it’s really Marvel’s first all-ages show. It's a show that really relies on humor to deliver laughs for young kids and jokes for older fans while still having a lot of the Marvel action that everyone has come to expect.
Marvel.com: The Squad’s blend of comedy and thrilling super hero action flows extremely well. How do you accomplish this? And what are the difficulties in doing so?
Cort Lane: It is really tough because we struggle with episodes that lean too much one way or the other and it is a balance that all falls on our writing team. We find writers that have both the comedy and the action experience so that they can do both. Our story editor, Matt Wayne, has worked on everything from "Justice League Unlimited" to "Tom and Jerry." He and I work very hard to achieve that balance. Joe Quesada also gets really involved in the story development and contributes a lot of gag and joke ideas and helps us maintain that balance.
Marvel.com: Now that Season One has concluded, is the season as a whole what you envisioned before the start of production?
Cort Lane: Well, nothing ever is in animation. It’s both different and what we set out to accomplish at the same time. The things we found that really worked -- in terms of both action and comedy as well as the characters that really delivered on both those fronts -- were a surprise. So we began to craft episodes around those characters and ideas.
Marvel.com: With the success of Season One, how do you go about making Season Two go beyond the already high expectations?
Cort Lane: Just simply put: bigger and better. We have a lot of fun exploring all the different corners of the Marvel Universe. In Season One we really grounded the series in Super Hero City. Season Two allows us to go to distant corners of the galaxy, other dimensions, the Negative Zone, and along with that comes characters that are more exotic than the typical super hero. So that’s really exciting because you get villains like Nightmare, characters hanging out in the Skrull’s home world or battling Annihilus. Those are things that might have been a difficult fit for Season One, but that we can really have fun with in Season Two.
Marvel.com: What was your prime motivation and inspiration behind "The Super Hero Squad Show?"
A Storyboard Featuring Iron Man
Cort Lane: We wanted to do something that young kids could enjoy. At the same time, we’re all fanboys, which allowed us to do tongue-in-cheek and even ridiculous things that fanboys could pick up on. So it allowed us to be silly for the first time in the Marvel Universe. I think that’s a challenging concept for many, but I must confess that I read a lot of “Brand Echh” comics from the 60s to get in the right mindset. And it helped having Stan Lee on board as one of our characters because he got really excited about the concept and really understood where we were taking these characters.
Marvel.com: How is "The Super Hero Squad Show" different from previous shows you have worked on?
Cort Lane: It’s obviously a different tone for a Marvel show and that makes it a lot of fun for everybody. But it’s a constant challenge to be able to deliver the humor and still have stories that are action driven and allow the heroes to be heroic. That, I think, is the challenge that nobody was quite prepared for.
Marvel.com: Which character was your personal favorite to explore and develop throughout the season?
Cort Lane: That’s a tough one because I’m a fanboy and I love them all, but I think everybody was surprised at how funny the Mayor was. We thought it would be fun to have Stan Lee play the Mayor, but to be honest, didn’t think that he would be as funny as he is. So we then started to build vignettes and even episodes around Stan in both seasons as a result.
Marvel.com: What story elements and sub-plots did you enjoy developing the most in Season One?
Cort Lane: I think Reptil’s relationship with Wolverine is something that organically grew out of Wolverine’s grumpy nature and Reptil’s eagerness. For some reason Wolverine always seems to work well with a protégé, and we found that Reptil and Wolverine had a great relationship.
Then I think everybody who likes the show had fun with Thor and Loki’s sibling rivalry, but we were able to play it out as somewhat juvenile in the way that adult siblings can be sometimes. And I think that even the voice actors had a good time with that.
Marvel.com: Any particular episodes that really stick out as your personal favorites?
Cort Lane: It’s like picking your favorite child because you work so hard on all of them that you love them all. I would have to say that episode six, “A Brat Walks Among Us”, is my favorite because it’s so chock full of Marvel characters, and it’s so funny. I think it was sort of the epitome of what we wanted the show to accomplish: very funny, lots of Marvel guest stars, you have the Heroes for Hire, Captain America and the Mayor doing important things, great villains (big ones and obscure ones) and we have a massive battle with all the heroes and villains. So for me, that episode really worked as being the perfect example of what "The Super Hero Squad Show" should be like.
Marvel.com: What was it like working with voice talent legends like Tom Kenny, Charlie Adler, Grey DeLisle and the like, as well as the plethora of celebrity guest stars?
A Storyboard Featuring Hulk
Cort Lane: We record our talent here in LA all in a room together, and it’s complete chaos. They all know each other pretty well and they’re all very comfortable improvising. So we let them ad-lib as much as we can stand. They love the show, and they have such a fun time doing it that most of them will say that it’s their favorite show to work on because we make it a fun atmosphere for them. They’re all lunatics and most of their humor is totally dirty, so we have to be really creative when we edit the track. But all that comes across in the show because the performances are loose and funny and they add a lot of gags. Frankly, a lot of them like Tom Kenny are Marvel fans. So he’ll come up with stuff we didn’t even think of; things like references to obscure characters and creators.
As for the celebrity talent, that’s been kind of a surprise. I pushed for it, but I didn’t think I’d get as many as I did. But they enjoy doing the show and we make it really easy for them, which is great because it also helps draw attention to the show. We’re doing a lot more of the celebrity guests in Season Two and we’ll be announcing those right before this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
Marvel.com: What would you like to tell every Super Hero Squad Show fan who will be out on July 13th to pick up a DVD of the show?
Cort Lane: Hero up!
The Super Hero Squad Show: Quest For The Infinity Sword! Volume 1 DVD, features the first seven episodes from the first season of this popular action-packed animated series and special bonus features including a new interview with Stan Lee, music video and trailers. A must-have for heroes of all ages!
The Super Hero Squad Show: Quest For The Infinity Sword! Volume 1 DVD contains seven exciting episodes including:
• “And Lo…A Pilot Shall Come!”
• “This Silver, This Surfer!”
• “Hulk Talk Smack!”
• “To Err Is Superhuman!”
• “Enter: Dormammu!”
• “A Brat Walks Among Us!"
• “Oh Brother!"
• A new interview with Stan “The Man” Lee
• Music Video
• "The Super Hero Squad Show" Trailer
• "The Super Hero Squad Show" Online Trailer
• THQ's SHSS: The Infinity Gauntlet Game Trailer
For more information on "The Super Hero Squad Show," check out the official site!
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