By Chris Arrant
Although the live-action "Marvel's The Avengers" movie isn’t set to hit theaters until next summer, Marvel’s heroes have already made a beachhead in the minds of young movie-goers--and we’re not talking the solo movies. Last fall saw the launch of the animated series "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!" on Disney XD, and the series has gone on to be a worldwide phenomena with syndication in over 20 countries.
|"The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" Vol. 3 available on DVD 10/25|
And tomorrow, October 25, you can complete your Season One collection of the show when "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!" Vol. 3 and Vol. 4 hit DVD! With the complete first season soon available, we wanted to bring you a special behind-the-scenes look at the series--so read on, Marvelites!
Just ask any Avenger and they’ll tell you that it’s a team affair, and it’s no different when it comes to making an animated series. Early on, Marvel Animation and Film Roman drafted animation veteran Frank Paur to be a guiding force as the series’ Supervising Director. Paur has a long history in the industry, particularly with animated super heroes. Paur’s credits include "X-Men Evolution," "The Invincible Iron Man," “Planet Hulk” and “Doctor Strange,” as well as "G.I. Joe," "Thundarr The Barbarian" and more. The Emmy award-winning artist talks with Marvel.com about what’s coming up in Season Two as well as how the series compares with past projects he's worked on.
Marvel.com: Frank, what can you tell us about your role as Supervising Director of "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!"?
|"The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!" Vol. 4 available on DVD 10/25|
Frank Paur: Well, they kind of brought me in a little late in the game. Season One was well into storyboarding and designs before I came on. They asked me in to assist in getting things together and getting things done. Shows like this are very complex, and I kind of have a history with these types of series so it was natural for me to come in and deal with some of the editing and design.
When we got the scripts, my job was to set a guide for the directors and the storyboard people. My work on Season One involved more editing than storyboarding, but in Season Two I took on the whole series at that point.
Marvel.com: This is a big month for the series as Vols. 3 and 4 come out on DVD and the first episode of Season Two was recently shown at New York Comic Con. What’s it like in the offices working on the series right now?
Frank Paur: Right now I’m working on the interstitial recaps of Season Two for Disney; these are 30 second bits that update viewers with all the events going on and what is taking place in the current episode they’re about to watch.
|"The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!" assembled|
Marvel.com: In Season One we saw the Avengers assemble to fight off a horde of super villains on the loose. What is the team up against in Season Two?
Frank Paur: In the previous season we set-up this kind of cosmic awareness for the Avengers team, so you’re going to be seeing a lot more alien personalities and such going forward. There’s also a lot of interpersonal storylines going on as well. It’s going to be very exciting, and it’ll definitely have a darker side than people might expect.
Marvel.com: In Season One we saw the team slowly form and grow; can you say who’ll be joining the line-up this time out?
|Iron Man takes to the skies in "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!"|
Frank Paur: For anyone who’s watched the first season, you’ll see some returns from there as well as a lot more of Ms. Marvel. I can’t say anything more than that, but fans should strap themselves in for some surprises.
Marvel.com: "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!" has really zeroed in on the tone and style that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby pioneered back in the '60s, but along with a sense of modernism. What were the conversations like when this series was first being conceptualized about how it would look and feel?
Frank Paul: The people here in the beginning of Season One really captured the comic richness of the '60s and '70s when Stan, Jack, John Buscema and all these different artists created the genesis of the Marvel super hero style. We’ve got a really fun feel that has its serious moments, but is genuinely fun and full of personality.
|Thor and Wasp battle together in "The Avengers: Earth's Migthiest Heroes!"|
In Season Two, we’re going to be pushing that a bit further. To me, Marvel has always been about an ordinary person’s perspective on having powers. These aren’t perfect gods, but people like you and I with super powers and all the problems it can bring up.
Marvel.com: Will there be any special appearances of any other characters in Season Two?
Frank Paur: I can neither confirm nor deny who the new characters you’ll be seeing in Season Two are. The decision on who’ll be in it is a call the writers make, and it’s about finding strong story points for the characters. I know that they’re very careful about how they handle different characters, and each new entry has to add a certain bit of spice to the story to be included.
|The team faces the world's biggest threats in "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!"|
Marvel.com: You’re no stranger to super heroes, working on Marvel creations such as "The Invincible Iron Man" and "X-Men Evolution." Where do you think you learned the most in terms of telling a story in the super hero genre?
Frank Paur: Super heroes have been very good to me, especially here at Marvel. As far as storytelling, it is what it is. When I was a child one of the best movies I remember watching over and over was "Doctor Zhivago." The cinematography and color had a pure richness of drama in it. I fell in love with how the shots were set up and that sort of thing.
With what I’m doing here, my goal is to make mini-movies, not just television shows. Back in the '80s when I was doing storyboards for "G.I. Joe" and "Jem," these projects were considered commodities that were just thrown out there. The story was secondary in my opinion, but the artists really brought stuff up a level from what was expected. As those artists got the chance to be in charge of doing these types of shows, I had more liberty to make stronger storylines and have people dealing with serious emotional and relationship-type issues. We’re trying to do things that would be relevant. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how cool your show looks…what matters is how the audience feels about what they’ve seen, which is what we aim at with "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!"