Jeph Loeb Talks Marvel Television, Live-Action Heroes, And The Disney Factor

Earlier this week, we reported on the news that Marvel had named veteran writer Jeph Loeb the new Executive Vice President in charge of Television for the company.

As the head of the newly created division within Marvel Entertainment, Loeb’s duties reportedly involve the oversight of live-action and animated Marvel television series development, as well as direct-to-DVD features.

But what does all this mean for the big- and small-screen future of Marvel’s stable of characters?

I spoke to Loeb about the news to get his take on the new position, how he’s approaching the job, and Marvel’s vision for their new television division.

MTV NEWS: Jeph, the description of the new Marvel Television division in the initial press release was a little vague, so maybe you can fill in some of the details. What’s the gig all about?

JEPH LOEB: Well, Marvel took a look at the success they’ve had in being able to do the feature film division and really remain true to the core characters and the fanbase, and once the buyout with Disney happened, it became obvious that, given that Disney also owns networks, it was only a matter of time before we all got into the television business together. So, under the guidance of Alan Fine and Dan Buckley, they asked whether or not I wanted to take the experiences I’ve had working in television both in live-action and animation, and bring them over a run a television division.

MTV: Some people have noted that the new division seems to fall under Marvel’s publishing arm and not Marvel Entertainment. What’s the hierarchy with Marvel Television?

LOEB: I think each division feeds up through Marvel Entertainment. Marvel Television is a new division that’s been formed to handle live-action animation and direct-to-DVD animation.

MTV: So how does Disney factor into all of this? Is the goal to develop all these on Disney networks?

LOEB: Our primary goal right now is, given that Disney has so many outlets — the immediate ones being the Disney Channel, Disney XD, ABC, and ABC Family — that’s a pretty great place to start.

MTV: How does this affect any of the existing projects out there in the television world?

LOEB: Well, I’m not sure what there is right now from the Marvel realm in the TV world. If we’re talking about animation, it continues and will only get bigger. We’re looking at a number of properties and the best way of bringing them to the world and to the fanbase.

If we’re talking about Marvel live-action, there hasn’t been much done in that area. Marvel’s pretty much stayed away from television live-action, but once we became part of Disney it became obvious that this was going to be a business that we’re gong to be in. And much like the feature films, they wanted to do it right.

MTV: Are we talking about high-profile characters with these television projects, or is this part of that old rumor regarding lower-tier characters getting the spotlight in movie and television projects?

LOEB: This is the part where I have to invoke the “No Comment.” There is stuff in the works. We’re working very closely with the networks I mentioned, and when the time is appropriate for us to talk about what we’re developing, we’ll be happy to do that. This is something we want to do very slowly very carefully, and very selectively. It will not be a big, wide range of stuff, and we want to make sure that, much in the same way the feature guys have used top-name talent in order to get the best scripts and the best directors, that’s something we want to do.

MTV: Part of that rumor I mentioned earlier is that Marvel is looking to do some lower-budget projects to introduce their lesser-known characters. This seems like it fits the bill. Is that part of the goal here?

LOEB: We certainly have a responsibility to make the best-looking shows on television, but we are on television, so obviously there are going to be limitations in terms of what we can do. When you look at shows like “Smallville,” “Lost” and “Heroes,” those are really good-looking shows and really spoke to the fanbase and general television audience. So I’m hoping we’ll be able to get out there and swing for the fences.

MTV: Is it fair to say you’ll be focusing exclusively on small-screen projects now? What about your big-screen and comics work?

LOEB: I’m in a very unique position because this is in many ways my dream job. I’ve always been doing both [big-screen and small-screen work], but never at the same company. I have an opportunity now to take the things I learned on those projects, and bring them to the place where I was always writing comic books.

One of the real challenges when I was working on those shows was that, in addition to working on the shows, I also had to get my comic book work done. Now it’s all in one building, so to speak.

What are you hoping to see come out of the new Marvel Television division? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!