Back in August, we brought you the news that Paul Dini was joining the creative team for “Ultimate Spider-Man,” the upcoming Disney XD animated series that also features notable comics and cartoon creators Brian Michael Bendis (co-creator of the long-running “Ultimate Spider-Man” comic book series) and the “Man Of Action” collective responsible for the wildly successful “Ben 10” animated series.
During New York Comic Con, I managed to round up two of the four members of Man of Action, Joe Kelly and Steven T. Seagle, to find out more about Spider-Man’s return to the animated world and, among other details, what Dini meant when he promised a “redefined” Peter Parker.
“It’s fair to say that when we came on the project, Marvel looked at what worked in the past and what hasn’t worked,” Kelly told MTV News. “[They] felt like this would be a cartoon for a completely new generation, so let’s tear it down and build from scratch and really exploit what animation allows us to do, not replicate what’s done in the comics.”
“We’re hitting a lot of comedy,” he added. “The action is really frenetic… and kinetic. It’s like the technology has caught up with Spider-Man — sort of the same thing they said with the movies, where you can finally do the things you actually want to see him do.”
However, Seagle was quick to add that everyone involved with the project realizes that Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s most popular characters for a reason — several of them, in fact.
“The building blocks are great,” said Seagle. “It’s a classic character for obvious reasons, so those pieces will still be in place.”
The pair offered up some additional explanation for Dini’s “redefinition” of Peter Parker, too — but reiterated that there are some things that make the character who he is, and those need to stay consistent if the series wants to be successful.
“Peter Parker is the archetypal teenager,” explained Seagle. “Those story beats don’t ever change. The same things that were critical to teenagers then are critical to teenagers now. So a lot of our world is that world — focusing on what it’s like to be young and have amazing powers and still try to save the world and go to school.”
“Tonally, he’s less of a whiner and more of a smart-aleck,” said Kelly of the “Ultimate” version of Peter Parker. “He understands his responsibility, but he’s willing to bust chops as he’s moving through it. He’s not intimidated with it, as he might have been portrayed in the past.”
As for how the animated series will compare with the “Ultimate Spider-Man” comic, the pair stopped short of saying it would follow along with the comic’s story arc, but said Bendis’ ability to find the common ground between Spider-Man old and new has proved invaluable in the creative process.
“Bendis has been great,” said Seagle. “He understands that character so thoroughly and that world. All the new stuff and all the old stuff — he’s great at synthesizing that and saying, ’This is how that would go.'”
“We all met together and got around the table with [Joe] Quesada and Jeph Loeb,” said Kelly of the planning process for the series. “It’s a real free-flow of ideas. Brian knows that stuff so well, it’s Paul’s first time ever writing Spider-Man, and us lifelong fans of Spidey, we’re just throwing things at the wall and seeing what makes us laugh and what we enjoy.”
That being the case — and given Kelly’s history with a certain Marvel character who’s also known for his running commentary — I had to ask: Is there a chance of seeing Deadpool make a cameo in the “Ultimate Spider-Man” cartoon? After all, Dini did promise “a lot of guest-star action” in the animated series.
“It would be very, very cool to see a Deadpool in this universe,” laughed Kelly. “I don’t know if we could actually do it and actually be on TV, but… Spider-Man’s rogues gallery is fantastic. There are characters we can and can not use, so it’s a little tough. Personally, I love Moon Knight. I’d love to see a Moon Knight in it. I love Mysterio, he’s always been a favorite of mine.”
“I’ve been able to work in Jack of Hearts, Woodgod, Star-Stalker, and The Freedom Fighters,” joked Seagle. “So far, it’s been good for me.”
However, “Ultimate Spider-Man” isn’t the only animated project on the horizon for the Man Of Action team, who are also contributing an upcoming arc to the “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” animated series that premieres this month.
“We came in just to do… not even an arc, but a series of episodes that are going to come out when the ’Avengers’ movie comes out,” explained Seagle. “It was really just to get the classic essence of Avengers into those episodes.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s tied-in to the movie, but it’s the classic three,” he added. “It’s an exciting opportunity to do hardcore classic Avengers stories.”
“Ultimate Spider-Man” premieres next year on Disney XD. You can find out more about the Man Of Action team and their upcoming projects at www.manofaction.tv.