Big changes are happening to Spider-Man in the third season of "Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors," and it all starts with a two-part premiere event! The Avengers approach Spider-Man to join the team, which means bigger opportunities and bigger threats. Tune in this Sunday, August 31, at 9:00 a.m. ET on Disney XD to see the two-part premiere event! The premiere episode is also available for free on iTunes until August 31. We got to chat with Marvel Animation Vice President Steve Wacker and Supervising Producer Harrison Wilcox about the premiere, the approach to season three, and their favorite moments of the season!
Marvel.com: With an animated series, there are lots of people that are involved with bringing the show to execution. So what’s the creative process when developing the season premiere?
Harrison Wilcox: It was sort of easy to know where we were going because we were picking up from where we left off at the end of Season 2, where Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor offer a position on the Avengers team [to Spider-Man] so we knew where we wanted to go. We had Paul Dini, who had been with the show from the beginning, come into the office and Jeph Loeb was there and Joe Quesada and Steve Wacker and Cort Lane and myself and we sort of sat down and decided how we would tell this story. And Paul being Paul, had almost all of it planned out before we got there. So that’s how the creative process sort of started. He pitched a bunch of ideas and we loved most of it and tweaked as we needed and figured out where Spidey’s team would come into it all, and S.H.I.E.L.D., because he was still very much a leader there. And that’s how we made it work.
Harrison Wilcox: After the two-parter we have Henry Gilroy and Eugene Son join us as story editors for the season. So it was very much the same thing. They would bring story ideas in and we would break them down, tear them apart, rebuild them. Very collaborative, sort of what you would see in a writer’s room on a live-action television show sort of thing.
Steve Wacker: Well, I wasn’t here for all of it. For most of Spider-Man Season 3, I was coming in as a consultant from Publishing. So I was just sort of on the sidelines helping break story and stuff like that but the way that works is we all sit in a room, the entire creative team and the people from Marvel Animation and Mr. Loeb and it’s just what it sounds like. People start pitching out ideas and we start breaking them apart. They sort of knew they wanted to try some different things this year with longer arcs and some bigger stories as opposed to what had always been a single episode sort of show, standalone show.
Marvel.com: Going into Season 3, what are some of the things that we can expect to see that are different from what we’ve seen in the first two seasons? What new things will be popping up this season?
Harrison Wilcox: We wanted to lean a little bit more towards what we all loved from the comics, which are these story-arcs. So for a lot of Season 1 and Season 2, we had these overall arcs that were 13 episode or 26 episode sort of very general character arcs for Spidey. He was joining S.H.I.E.L.D. and learning about being a hero and he was learning about how to lead other heroes and now we’ve sort of been able to break it down into shorter arcs. So, for example, we have a two-parter, we have a-four parter, we have an eight-parter, we have a seven-parter. That’s sort of where we started from. We wanted to get that sort of comic book feel to it.
Stephen Wacker: The core of it is Spider-Man joining the Avengers, something else that’s been a big part of publishing for a few years now that most people don’t realize because our movie franchise are separate. So in the animated series, as in publishing, we have the ability to do these, for lack of a better word, “crossovers” that you can’t see on the film side. So you’ve got a genius like Doc Ock and a madman like Loki together who inevitably, as much as they work together, like any good villain duo, they’ll also end up coming at each other. Stepping on each other’s toes a little bit because each of them think they’re the leader of this villain team. But the bit with Loki, Loki and Spider-Man play very well together because Loki’s never met anyone like Spider-Man before. He’s been in the print series before but I always like the way they play on screen together. Spider-Man is so unpredictable and as much as Loki thinks he’s the god of mischief, Spider-Man is the human of mischief. So it’s really fun to see Spider-Man undermine Loki. Loki becomes the Elmer Fudd in that situation.
Marvel.com: Coming from your background of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN recently, could you talk a little bit about just the things that you were able to bring to the team with your run on the comics? Or maybe some challenges in the differences between them?
Stephen Wacker: One of the things I think about this season, there’s a section of the season called “Spider-Verse” that is a really good example of how the different arms of Marvel can help inform each other. “Spider-Verse” is a story that Dan Slott and I had been working on for a long time on the publishing side. Dan pitched it, gee, I don’t know, two or three years ago now and he pitched it in one of the big Marvel publishing summits, which are these big meetings two or three times a year with all the writers on the major books and all the editorial staff and sort of setting the direction for the whole line for the next year and a half. And Joe brought the idea into one of the animation pitch things as something we could do to try out some new animation styles and really expand the scope of the show [with] different versions of Spider-Man. So now, the story in publishing got pushed back for other reasons so it just happens that Spider-Verse comic book is starting to happen now at the same time we’re starting to talk about the Spider-Verse [animated version of it.] So it’s really the different arms of Marvel working in tandem. It’s a good example of that and the fact that I knew what "Spider-Verse" was about helped, I think, craft some of those a little bit. I worked with the character day in and day out for seven years so I sort of had his voice in the back of my head. I knew some other characters you could throw [at it]. I don’t know that any one thing was specifically all me but I think it helped having someone who knew the character so well in the room.
Marvel.com: Were there specific comic titles or specific comic runs that you took influence from with this season?
Harrison Wilcox: We sort of looked at where we had been in the first 52 episodes and looked at where we wanted to go from there. We didn’t necessarily say, “Let’s do Clone Saga. Let’s tell that story.” We found elements from a lot of the recent stuff, a lot of the older stuff, and we sort of adjusted and incorporated it to make it work for our show which is an updated version of those comics.
Steven Wacker: It’s really Brian [Michael Bendis’] ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN run with Spider-Man working for S.H.I.E.L.D. and getting other super heroes around him. That’s sort of at the core of our show. It’s called ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN for a reason. And having Spider-Man in a situation where he’s not only our classic version of Spider-Man: He’s a guy who makes mistakes and screws up and stuff like that but he also is, unwittingly, a super hero that other young super heroes look up to. He doesn’t even realize what an example he is and that I think comes from the comics right into our series.
Harrison Wilcox: That’s what I love about this season. I can’t pick one over the other. I’m really looking forward to a certain Ham focused episode. And I really have a special love for the Christmas episode, which comes near the end of the season. That one especially, the Christmas episode, was everything in a nutshell about what I loved in Marvel comics condensed into one episode.
Stephen Wacker: I’m really fond of Spider-Verse. The production team on the show, starting with Alex Soto, who’s the supervising director, has come up with some different art styles throughout the four parts. We’re introducing some major new versions of Spider-Man that a lot of people are going to be very excited about, I think. So that’s a highlight of this season. We’ve got Amadeus Cho, who takes over the Iron Spider armor. To see that in action is going to be really fun. My personal highlight of the season is Agent Venom, the debut of Agent Venom matching a book I worked on in publishing. Making Venom a character that you can actually see starring in a book was a big part of my time editing the Spider-Man books. So that was really fun to see in action and just becomes real when you see him moving on the screen. You realize you’re sort of affecting these characters for the long run. It’s fun.
Marvel.com: Lastly, with this first two-episode event that you have going on, the Avengers are approaching Spider-Man to join the team that he’s always dreamed of being a part of. If you, personally, had a super hero team approach you and ask you to join, what team would you most want to join?
Harrison Wilcox: [laughs] I will always say, being a child of the '90s, the X-Men.
Marvel.com: And do you have a super hero name picked out?
Harrison Wilcox: If I did, I would not release that information to the world. [laughs]
Stephen Wacker: I would, oh boy, that’s one of those good, fun questions that I’m never good at. I would join the Fantastic Four because that would make me the odd man out, which is how I feel most of my life.