This past Sunday on “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble,” fans got to see Earth’s Mightiest tackle some pre-historic challenges in the Savage Land without any of their modern day tech while Justin Hammer made another attempt to impress the Red Skull…all while Thor and Hulk managed to trash Tony Stark’s penthouse with the team away.
With an episode that packed, we sat down not only with series Supervising Producer Cort Lane but with writer Danielle Wolff, who co-wrote this particular episode with Man of Action Studios.
Together we talked about Captain America and Iron Man’s relationship, writing interpersonal dynamics, what makes the Avengers unique from other super hero teams and so much more. But don’t just listen to our summary, read on to see what Lane and Wolff had to say below to get all the details!
Danielle Wolff: It’s definitely in their approach to how they deal with their powers and how they face a problem. Tony’s one who relies a lot on technology and is always happy to take a shortcut, whether that’s tech-based or not. Cap is someone who uses a lot of his internal strength, physical strength and training, and really doesn’t cut corners when it comes to being prepared. Those two approaches really conflicted in this episode, especially when they were both forced into a situation where they didn’t have use of what they would normally rely on. We definitely see Tony having to really use skills that he doesn’t always give a lot of credit to, like his leadership skills and his interpersonal skills. I think he would sometimes write those off as unimportant. Here I think they really come out and help them escape from the situation.
Marvel.com: Right, and what I found interesting was towards the end when Cap admits that he knew Tony’s a natural leader, so he was expecting something like this. Do you feel like Cap’s view of Tony as being too dependent on his technology is less of a judgment than Cap simply believing that Tony could sort of do things without the tech if he wanted?
Danielle Wolff: Yeah, I definitely think so. But I also think that Tony wouldn’t admit that without being forced to, and [Cap’s] bet is sort of a way to get him to admit that. If he were just trying to point that out, [Tony] would brush it off. I think it was sort of clever of Cap to couch it in those terms, as a bet--“Can you do this?” And of course, Tony being Tony, [he] has to rise to the challenge.
Cort Lane: There’s this wonderful push and pull between Tony and Cap throughout the season, and it goes back to the pilot where Iron Man takes on the mantle of leadership but sometimes doubts his ability to do so. And frankly, because he’s such a cocky lone wolf, he’s not always the best at leading a team, and this is a team of really different personalities. Cap seems to have the faith in him that he can get there, but sometimes Cap is a little frustrated that Tony seems to get in his own way in terms of that growth. This episode brings that out in a really significant way before we head into the remainder of the season, which is really a true test of Tony’s leadership abilities.
Cort Lane: I think that’s a big part of it, but I think another part of it is just them working together and getting to know each other better. And in a weird sort of way, this is a team bonding episode as well. It’s a bit of a breather before we get back into the Cabal story and it’s full of wonderful character stuff that Dani gave us. And that’s part of it too because they bicker a lot, particularly early in the season, and even though the bickering is more hard to hear, they really are getting along. You notice that Falcon and Hawkeye are getting along really well in this episode and they didn’t for the first half of the season.
Marvel.com: Dani, I noticed for at least the first half of this episode, we don’t even have a super villain of any kind, it’s really just strictly interaction between the characters themselves. Does that sort of offer up challenges when you’re writing it in terms of the structure?
Danielle Wolff: In this case it wasn’t really a problem. I felt like they’re challenging each other and they put themselves in this situation where there’s something that they’re coming up against anyway. It’s not like there’s no conflict, there’s definitely conflict and it’s more character based, but that sort of plays into what happens in the second half of the episode. In a way, it’s more challenging to write. The big action scenes can be challenging too when you have to figure out the logistics and who’s doing what and how things are timed out, but making sure there’s an interesting kind of character conflict and dynamic happening can be just as challenging and sometimes more rewarding to write.
Cort Lane: [laughs] Oh good, I love it when you get the Easter Egg!
Marvel.com: Yes. I was curious, do you remember if that came from either of you or who that little detail came from in the process?
Danielle Wolff: I think the line came from Man of Action. I don’t know about the visual.
Cort Lane: I think it was part of the story break in the writer’s room. I have no idea who came up with it but when we use Garokk, we’re dealing with a character from X-Men origins and Ka-Zar origins, so he’s encountered these characters. I mean, this is the Marvel Universe and everything’s interconnected. So that was our intent.
Marvel.com: It definitely gave me a chuckle when I saw that. I was also curious, speaking of Garokk and his Stone People, they offer up a very different way of thinking about things. They were saying how outsiders always come and they always want to fight. How do you think their philosophy towards conflict and conflict resolution impacted the way in which Tony eventually brought down Justin Hammer?
Cort Lane: I love that moment because Tony reminds himself, as he says later, that before he was a fighter, he was a builder. Building great things is a way to deal with stress as well, and so he builds a solution, and they help him to be part of that, when they end up getting catapulted into Hammer’s device. I don’t know, it’s just really nice. Tony’s at his best when he’s creating things. Thor and Hulk are really good at punching things, but Tony brings all these other skills to the table which is why he’s such a great hero.
Marvel.com: Absolutely. Dani, since you’ve written a few “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” scripts and “Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man” before that, I was curious about your own history with these characters. Did you know them ahead of time?
Danielle Wolff: I definitely knew them ahead of time. You’re sitting in the room sometimes at Marvel and there are people who have lived with these characters their whole lives. It’s hard to compete with that so I definitely didn’t have the amount of knowledge that some people had. There are so many characters in the Marvel Universe that have gone through so many iterations, so there’s always an amount of research involved for every script. I want to make sure that I understand the backstory and I want to make sure that even if I feel like I know the character I really know the history of it and how to interact with all the other characters in the universe. There’s always research.
Danielle Wolff: I’m always a big fan of the humor moments. I love Hulk, he’s one of my favorite characters. Although that was just a subplot that didn’t really interact with the main characters too much, I loved that subplot. It was a lot of fun to write. Hulk and Thor are always great to play off each other.
Marvel.com: I just wanted to add that I particularly liked how destructive Thor was and how much he got to let his hair down in this episode. I feel like sometimes he can act very imperial and sort of regal, but this really reminded us that he can be a little immature at times and have fun too. I definitely enjoyed that.
Cort Lane: I think it’s interesting that despite [Thor’s] imperial persona [which] we can play with sometimes, in this particular episode, Hulk is really dragging Thor down to his level. I actually loved all those beats with him, especially because they’re bonding as well. But my favorite single line of the episode is Hulk raiding Tony’s quarters and saying, “These mints taste like cufflinks.” Because he’s eating cufflinks.” This episode, I think, is perhaps the funniest of the season and I think it’s wonderful because the last episode was a villain episode and this one is filled with so much humor but real character humor from the Avengers. I think the Avengers are best when you get to see those interesting interactions between them, otherwise they’re just any team of super heroes. And Dani, on all these shows, is so good at bringing out all those character moments, so I’m glad we were able to get her in this interview as well so you could talk to her and hear it from her.
Marvel.com: Before we wrap up, Cort, if we could just tease out next week’s episode, which I am very excited for because it features Mojo.
Cort Lane: [laughs] This one is very different, and just as we’re sort of working through some of the conflicts and character stuff between the Avengers in “Savages,” I think two characters who really need to find some common ground are Hawkeye and Hulk. This episode is about them doing that, and it’s full of twists and surprises. Mojo is a really epic threat in the episode too, but also really funny and so weird. It’s a great episode and is a bit of a departure.