Attendees at this year’s Comic-Con were treated to a bit more news about the project, with “Ben 10” creators Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, and Steven T. Seagle (collectively known as “Man of Action”) joining the “Ultimate Spider-Man” animated series alongside Bendis himself.
But the news doesn’t stop there, folks.
I’m excited to bring you the exclusive news that the creative team for the “Ultimate Spider-Man” animated series will also include veteran writer and producer Paul Dini, known for his work on a long list of fan-favorite projects such as “Batman: The Animated Series,” “Justice League,” the ABC television series “Lost,” and the “Batman: Arkham Asylum” video game.
In an interview with MTV News, Dini explained some of the team’s plan for the series and how it will differ from recent and existing Spider-Man cartoons. He also dropped some hints about what the upcoming “redefinition” of Peter Parker will entail.
MTV NEWS: First off, I have to ask about the roles you and the rest of the “Ultimate Spider-Man” creative team will play in the series. This is an all-star team, after all…
PAUL DINI: We’re really all just going to go off each other’s energy. Brian’s work is a great part of the inspiration for the series, and the Man Of Action writers are going to handle the bulk of the episode scripting. Everything is going to be produced under the watchful eye of Jeph Loeb. We had an early meeting last week with myself, Jeph, and a few of the directors and designers, and I think everybody’s on the same page with what we want the show to look like and the feel of the show.
MTV: Given the title of teh series, everyone expects it to be an animated version of Brian’s comic book series. Will it be an adaptation, or will it keep certain elements and go off in its own direction?
DINI: It’s 50/50. There are elements that are going to come directly from the comics, and there are elements that are just going to take it into an entirely new and different direction — and yet, they’re going to harken back to that particular iteration of Spider-Man.
MTV: How will it differ from recent and existing series, like “Spectacular Spider-Man”? Is there something that’s going to distinguish the “Ultimate” adventures of Spidey from the “Spectacular” stories?
DINI: We’re going to be pairing him up with new and different Marvel characters. There’s going to be a lot of guest-star action, and there’s going to be a redefinition of Peter Parker within the Spider-Man world. We’re going to change a few things — nothing too dramatically, but you look at the Spider-Man concept from the early ’60s and you take a look at where teens are now, and you realize you can’t really go back and redo what was done so well in the comics. You have to ask, “What if this was all happening today? How do you redefine ’With great power comes great responsibility?’ How do you redefine the villains of that world and the supporting characters?”
You also don’t want to repeat the same old tropes. As much as I love elements of Spider-Man’s past, I don’t really want to go back in and retell the Gwen Stacy and Green Goblin story in animation just so I can do my take on it. I don’t want to redo the first Spider Slayer story. I don’t want to redo some of those classic Lee/Romita and Lee/Ditka stories just for the sake of seeing them rendered in animation. For now, I just want to approach Spider-Man with fresh eyes, taking a few things we know about him and just doing a new spin on the concept. I think old-time fans will find what we’ve done with the character to be pretty good and thoughtful, because we’re not out to junk-up Spider-Man. That’s not our intent.
MTV: You’ve said what you don’t want to do, but what’s the general approach toward “redefining” Peter Parker in “Ultimate Spider-Man?”
DINI: It’s sort of like what Brian did with the whole ’Ultimate Spider-Man’ idea. He just looked at it from a new perspective. There were things that made the fans sort of sit up and say, ’Hey, I never thought of that before, but it really does work with Spider-Man’s universe.’ That’s the same thing we’re doing here.
We’re also taking a much different approach visually with the way we show how Spider-Man moves and works and acts within this new world. It’s going to be a complete change as far as the visualization of what it’s like to be Spider-Man.
MTV: So much of your career has focused on Batman and the DC heroes. What’s the appeal of Spider-Man for you?
DINI: I love Spider-Man, and I’ve never worked with the character before. It’s fun to try something new. There’s a different energy to Spider-Man than there is to Batman. Batman is dark and moody and spooky, and in some cases, methodical. There’s more of an element of a procedural around Batman, and there’s all sorts of great things you can do within his world. In animation, when we first rendered Batman’s world at Warner Bros., we were able to make it very dark and noir-ish and grim, which all takes its cues from Batman’s character.
Spider-Man’s world is more chaotic, more kinetic — it’s almost like stream of consciousness. You have to really put yourself in that mindset to tackle Spider-Man effectively. If you’re redefining the character that way, you want to redefine his world along those lines as well, and move things along and make it a lot faster. He’s a character who makes mistakes and has to go back and set things right and then continue on. He’s somebody who’s constantly thinking on his feet and trying to figure this out, because he hasn’t been doing it as long as Batman — it’s all new to him. It really is “great responsibility.” As cool as it is to be Spider-Man at times, there’s also a price to pay for that — and he has to learn to balance things out.
MTV: As far as timing and stories go, how many episodes are you planning for the first season?
DINI: There’s 26 episodes in front of us, and we’re breaking it into two increments.
The “Ultimate Spider-Man” animated series hits Disney XD in Fall 2011.
What do you think about Dini’s description of the series and Marvel’s plans for Spidey? Let us know in the comment section or on Twitter! You can also follow me, Splash Page editor Rick Marshall, on Twitter!