By Kevin Stivers & Marc Strom
As the creators of “Phineas and Ferb,” Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh don’t usually get a chance to play with some of the biggest super heroes out there…but that all changes when the one-hour special event “Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel” makes its debut on Disney Channel this Friday at 8:00 p.m. ET!
Longtime Marvel fans Povenmire and Marsh jumped at the chance to unite their own creations with heroes such as Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor and Iron Man, bringing together one of the most titanic team-ups to ever grace the animated screen.
With the premiere of “Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel” just a few short days away, Marvel.com chatted with Povenmire and Marsh about bringing this one-hour special to life, some of their favorite comics as kids and more!
|"Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel" premieres Friday at 8:00 p.m. ET on the Disney Channel|
Marvel.com: So what sparked this episode?
Dan Povenmire: Disney approached both us and Marvel and asked, “Would you guys like to do this,” and we were like, “Yeah it would be fun.”
Swampy Marsh: We get to play with the Marvel super heroes? I think we can do that.
Dan Povenmire: They didn't have to twist our arms.
Marvel.com: So you’re Marvel fans yourselves?
Dan Povenmire: Yeah. Oh yeah.
Marvel.com: Who’s your favorite super hero?
Dan Povenmire: Spider-Man was always my guy. That's what I collected when I was a kid, up until the point that my old collection was thrown out because they were old magazines that I'd already read.
Swampy Marsh: Moms will do that to you. I think I had more Iron Man than anything else, and that was the [character] I remember drawing and tracing. That's still how I draw chrome and shine lines, from remembering that. But I also had Silver Surfer and Deathlok, Luke Cage Hero for Hire…I had very obscure ones. Doc Strange is another one I'd read, pretty weird stuff.
Dan Povenmire: One of my favorite comics ever was Silver Surfer vs. Thor [in SILVER SURFER Vol. 1 #4]. The art in it was just like, “Oh, my gosh.” It was like an art school just looking at all of the compositions.
|Strange Tales #167 cover art by Jim Steranko|
Swampy Marsh: I gave my brother, and he still has it, the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. [story in STRANGE TALES #167 featuring a] four-page foldout. So you had to buy two comics and open them up and spread them out so you had a four-page battle scene inside S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. I called my brother, and he still has it.
Marvel.com: So how did you come up with some of the hero-specific jokes in “Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel”? Did you reference old comics or cartoons?
Swampy Marsh: Well, we had a lot of help from the guys at Marvel, because as big of fans as we and many of our crew are, [Marvel VP of Animation Development and Production] Cort [Lane] and some of the other guys at Marvel were really good about keeping us up to date about where the characters were and who was who and how their relationships worked.
Dan Povenmire: Then some of the humor we get out of it is that we sort of beat some of the road blocks we ran into because we weren't as familiar as Cort or the Marvel guys with some of the rules of the universe. There's a whole bit between Iron Man and Thor about why [Iron Man] can't pick up the hammer, which is almost verbatim a conversation we had with [Marvel] because we were going to have Iron Man throwing [Mjolnir].
|Silver Surfer (1968) #4 cover art by John Buscema|
Swampy Marsh: We were like, “Okay, then he picks up the hammer,” and they were like, “Whoa whoa.”
Dan Povenmire: And we were like, “Really? He's got his powers.” “Wielding the hammer is about worthiness not about power.” “Really? Can't we transfer the worthiness with it?” “No no, you can't do that.” So it's like, okay, what can he do then? Can he fly? “But only with the hammer.” So there was a whole spiel between Iron Man and Thor which was almost exactly the conversation that we had with them.
Swampy Marsh: But it was funny because any time you get something that first feels like a roadblock, [where for instance] you can't do some of the lines you thought you wanted to do, you end up finding something funnier, more clever and more surprising. You can't just shoot the easy target. Let's figure something else out and imagine it would be something much more entertaining for the viewers. So you sometimes go from, “Dang it,” to, “Oh wait a minute…”
Dan Povenmire: The more limitations you put on yourself, the smarter your comedy ends up having to be. We sort of write the show in much the way that we would write “Family Guy,” with just the rhythm of the dialogue, but there’s so much stuff you can't say because it's on Disney [and] it's for kids. You can't do any of the dirty jokes or the sort of questionable double entendres, so that makes us write smarter to try to keep humor in it. I think limitations are often good for comedy.
|Thor, Hulk, Spider-Man and Iron Man journey to Danville in "Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel"|
Swampy Marsh: And the nice thing about writing for the Marvel characters is that I've always felt they've been much smarter than I think parents for a long time [thought]. [They] used to say, “What are you doing wasting your time reading comic books?” I remember as a kid, this is some of the most challenging vocabulary ever. I dove into a dictionary more times to figure out what I was reading in a comic book than any book I'd ever read. If I'm reading a school book I couldn't care if I didn't know what half the words meant. You're like, “Eh, probably means something,” and skip it. So you know these are smart characters.
Marvel.com: How did you choose what super heroes were featured in “Mission Marvel”?
Dan Povenmire: Well, I loved Spider-Man, so we wanted Spider-Man. We both loved the Avengers, but we were like, “That's too many [characters].” We're losing Captain America because neither of us were fans of him back in the day. So it was sort of like [picking] our favorites.
Swampy Marsh: We had some people that on our wish list even just for fly-throughs and stuff, so a lot of it was a bit of a negotiation. But [we wanted] the big guys, [plus] somebody obscure like M.O.D.O.K., who's just a weird villain anyway.
Dan Povenmire: That was suggested by Marvel. I was unaware of who M.O.D.O.K. was until I looked him up, and was like, “Oh yeah let's use him.”
Swampy Marsh: The big head and little arms…
Marvel.com: You could play with that a bit.
Dan Povenmire: Exactly.
Catch “Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel” this Friday, September 16 on the Disney Channel at 8:00 p.m. ET!