Tagged: Los Angeles

Box Office Democracy: La La Land

I like musicals and I think it’s a shame that the film musical is mostly a relic of the past, dusted off a couple times a decade for a big revival and then set in the back of the closet for a few more years.  La La Land is a generally competent film that I just can’t make myself stomach.  It’s well-made, the script is good, and the chemistry between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling is frankly delightful.  But it’s not a movie I liked.  It’s so convinced that it’s fresh and wonderful just for being a big Hollywood musical that they didn’t bother to make a good musical, or a compelling love story, or to cast more than three people.  La La Land is cuter than it is good, and I’m just not feeling like loving a cute movie right now.

La La Land is the kind of self-congratulatory nonsense that Hollywood loves to reward with gold statues and is invariably met with countless articles about how out of touch the entertainment industry is.  This is a movie about a struggling actress and her boyfriend, a jazz pianist obsessed with doing things the old-fashioned way.  These aren’t particularly relatable characters, and I say that as someone who lives in Los Angeles and knows a fair number of struggling actors.  It’s the Hollywood that exists in movies and, honestly, mostly older movies at that.  It is, however, the kind of Hollywood that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences loves to believe exists and will happily shower awards on movies that depict it as such.  I’m sure that’s just a happy accident.

The biggest problem I have with La La Land is it isn’t a very good musical.  They cast actors who can sort of sing and kind of dance instead of getting any dedicated singers or dancers in leading roles.  John Legend is in the movie but he only gets one number and it isn’t a naturally occurring number, it’s a musical performance within the movie.  Aside from an opening non-sequitur and an early ensemble number, everyone but Gosling and Stone get locked out of musical numbers for the rest of the way.  It hardly feels like a magical world where everyone breaks into song, and more of a look at two people who break in to song while the rest of the world looks on.

By “the rest of the world” I really mean a shockingly sparse cast of extras.  I live in Los Angeles, but I certainly don’t live in the Los Angeles depicted in La La Land.  That Los Angeles is a place where a couple can always be alone wherever they are and whatever they’re doing.  If they’re hanging out in Griffith Park there’s no one to be seen, if they’re going to a revival movie theater playing Rebel Without a Cause there’s barely five other people in the house, and if they’re breaking in to the observatory there’s not even a security guard there.  I’m not saying that scenes need to be a realistic level of crowded, but between no crowds and a sparse supporting cast the world in this movie feels so sparse.  You could set La La Land on an arctic research lab and you’d only have to change some dialogue about what LA really cares about.

The most damning thing I can say about La La Land is that I saw that movie two days ago and I could barely hum you the tune of any of the songs (I think I have one of them but it might just be “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin) but I’m still singing “You’re Welcome” from Moana at basically any opportunity.  It’s a movie that seems to be hitting with a lot of people I know but I just stay in the theater thinking about how this would have been a better movie if they made it back when they really cared about making a good musical.  La La Land isn’t West Side Story, it isn’t even Newsies.  It’s a novelty, it’s a love letter to an Los Angeles that only existed in 40 year old movies, and it feels like a cynical attempt to get Oscar attention.  There’s a version of La La Land I would have liked, but this one is too low effort and too calculated for me.  Maybe next time.

Jen Krueger: Fan to Fan, or Performing Doctor Who for Fellow Whovians

Doctor Who Live at ComikazeThinking about my favorite of the Doctor’s adventures, one that immediately comes to mind is his journey to Tudor England. Crossing paths with an aging Henry VIII on the verge of a final marriage, the Doctor stumbles on a Dalek plot to kill him while companion Brianna is killed by the King’s Guard. Resurrected by the Pope, Brianna saves the day by brokering peace between Henry and the Catholic church, and using her love for the Doctor to melt the Dalek in disguise. If you’re a fan of Doctor Who but don’t remember this episode, that’s probably because this adventure was presented for the first and only time in Los Angeles for a single night in September of 2013. Also, it technically wasn’t an episode of Doctor Who. It was an installment of Doctor Who Live!, an improvised version of Doctor Who that I perform in twice a month.

As a Whovian for several years and an improviser for even longer, I was really excited when I was invited to join a group that would allow me to bring together two of my favorite things. I thought doing a show that would let me transform the things I wish the Doctor would do from idle thoughts into reality (albeit reality limited to 45 minute non-canon installments) would be a blast. After all, every fan has opinions on how the object of their fandom could be improved or expanded upon, but how often does any fan get the chance to actually play out those opinions by dictating what their favorite fictional characters will see, say, or do? Almost never, at best. I was pumped. So, so pumped.

And then, the pressure hit me. Because the more I thought about how cool it was going to be to make up and play out an episode of Doctor Who, the more I realized how difficult that would really be. Walking on stage with nothing more than the TV show’s conventions as a bare foundation on which to build comedy with twelve other people means there’s as much of a chance for failure as there is for success. I’m strictly a 2005 and on fan, so there are decades worth of episodes that I know nothing about yet, our audience may expect to see references from. Thankfully, a lot of the cast knows classic Who, so I can count on them to catch me up quickly in the wings if the audience’s suggested title for our episode contains something I don’t know much about, like the Sea Devils (and man, does our audience love to bring up the Sea Devils).

But my worries about representing Doctor Who faithfully went beyond just nailing the right references. Knowing how strong my feelings about the TV show are, it seemed fair to me that our Doctor Who Live! audience could hold us to the same standard they have for the real thing. We promise an improvised episode of the TV show and the TV show is phenomenal, so we’ve set an incredibly high bar for ourselves and have to figure out how to clear it. Before my first performance with the group, I was a bundle of nerves thinking about falling short of that bar. I wanted the show to be perfect because I didn’t want to disappoint myself or the audience. And with all this worrying going on, I was overlooking a very crucial fact: in that theater, we’re all fans.

After all, while it takes an awful lot of fandom to put on an improvised episode of a TV show, it takes even more to watch an improvised episode of a TV show. And Doctor Who Live! isn’t just lucky enough that there are big enough fans of Doctor Who to make doing our own version of it viable, but luckier still to have fans of our own. We have wonderful audience members who come regularly, encourage our silliest bits, and even let us be part of their birthdays by celebrating at our show. If we didn’t all love Doctor Who, none of that would be possible. I have to admit that despite regularly performing in front of audiences in various forms of improv for the last five years, it always feels weird to me to be recognized for a show I’ve done since improv is, by nature, so fleeting. But I’m starting to enjoy getting recognized for Doctor Who Live!, because being remembered as part of that group is, by nature, being recognized as a fan of Doctor Who, and usually leads to conversations about the real show. Now what kind of Whovian would I be if I didn’t like that?

Doctor Who Live logo

Michael Davis: Milestones at ComicMix

I’ve been writing for ComicMix for the better part of almost 10 years.

I’ve been writing for Bleeding Cool for the better part of 10 months.

They are rival sites much in the way the Yankees and Mets are rivals, both play the same game but play it a completely different way.

Like the two powerhouse sites the history of the Yankees and Mets, their pedigree and reason for being are as vastly different as a crazy Right Wing Fanatic and a Tree Hugging Liberal.

I grew up hating the Yankees until that magical October in 1977.

That’s when I watched Mr. October, Reggie Jackson damn near all by himself SMOKE the hated L.A. Dodgers in game 7 of the World Series. I hated the Dodgers as a young kid in Queens, N.Y. I hate them still as a grown man in Los Angeles.

Why no love for the Dodgers?

Because my mom was a die-hard Brooklyn Dodger fan and when the ‘Bums’ left Brooklyn millions of fans left them, my mom being one of them.

Why the hatred for the Yankees before they bitch slapped the Dodgers?

The New York Metropolitans, a.k.a. the New York Mets, came along and won the hearts and minds of the lovesick fans of that team that must not be named. Hating the Yankees came as second nature if you rooted for the team from Brooklyn.

Becoming a Met fan gave your Yankee hate a new home.

Very, and I mean very, few people root for the Yankees and the Mets. I became one of the few when I watched Reggie Jackson hit three home runs on three pitches in that dreamlike World Series.

It was MAGIC— and just like that I was a die-hard Yankee fan.

In 2000 my beloved Mets and much-loved Yankees played each other in the World Series.

I rooted for the Mets. They were my first love and as much as I LOVE the Yankees I threw my alliance to the boys from Queens.

Very few people write for Bleeding Cool and ComicMix. ComicMix is my first love and what and how I write for CM is different than what I do on BC.

A few years ago I wrote a series of articles on Milestone for ComicMix.

A four part (maybe more I can’t recall) series which I thought (because I’m an idiot) would be the end all and be all to the millions of Milestones questions out there.

It wasn’t.

I’m writing another series but this time I’d like to answer questions fans want to know. As BC and CM are immeasurably different I’d like to open the forum to both sites because I’ll get greatly different questions I’m sure.

So-I’d like to know what you would like to know. I’ll try and cover as much as possible and unless it’s something I just can’t talk about I’ll give you the inside scoop. Feel free to present your theories, rumors any and all crazy shit you want to know about.

If you would like to know how I presented this at BC check out my article from last Friday, which I’m pretty sure, the good folks at ComicMix will post the link here.

I’m very interested what will come from each site and I’m sure if asked the right question I’m sure you will be interested in the answers.

Wow.

Will you look at that?

A well-written ( I think) informative and interesting article with nary a bad word or rant.

FUCK the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ahhhhhhhh, that’s better.

Jen Krueger: Forgoing the Gold

Jen Krueger: Forgoing the Gold

This year is the first time in my life that the Winter Olympics and the Academy Awards have fallen in the same month. Because I grew up with a great love for watching both figure skating and movies, it seems like 2014 should be a banner year for me to tune into the events that represent the highest level of competition in these two pastimes. Instead, 2014 is the first year that I watched neither. (more…)

Your First Look at ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER #1!

This March, a new legend is born on the streets of Los Angeles in ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER #1 – the high-octane new series from writer Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore! All-New Ghost Rider #1 will continue the exciting wave of All-New Marvel NOW! series with a brand new & sensational take on the Spirit of Vengeance!

A high speed street race in East LA leads a young man down the fast and furious road of destiny. Amid an East Los Angeles neighborhood full of gang violence and drug trafficking, 18-year old Robbie Reyes explodes onto the scene as the newest Ghost Rider!

“In Robbie Reyes, Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore have created one of the most complex and likable characters to be granted great power — and a great ride! — and learn the great responsibility that comes with both,” says Editor In Chief Axel Alonso. “Reyes comes from a very different zip code than Peter Parker, but his story is universal.”

“His vehicle of choice, the automobile, very clearly sets him apart visually,” says series writer Felipe Smith in an interview with Marvel.com “In comparison to his vengeance seeking predecessors, he’s very young and inexperienced in most aspects of life; but as a the product of a harsh inner city upbringing, Robbie’s street smarts, overall distrust for most people, and clear contempt for his violent surroundings make him the perfect host for a Spirit of Vengeance.”

But motorcycles and cars were just the beginning! Robbie has the ability to turn any vehicle into a flaming engine of retribution. And he’ll need it. War is brewing in the criminal underworld. But crime and corruption have a new enemy. With the pedal to the metal, Marvel’s newest Ghost Rider puts vengeance into overdrive!

Who is this new Ghost Rider? And how did he come to possessed with such awesome power? The answers will be revealed when the explosive ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER #1 sets comic shops ablaze this March!

ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER #1 (JAN140660)
Written by FELIPE SMITH
Art & Cover by TRADD MOORE
Variant Covers by FELIPE SMITH (JAN140663)
MIKE DEL MUNDO (JAN140663)
SKOTTIE YOUNG (JAN140664)

FOC –02/24/14 On-Sale -03/19/14

The Point Radio: MOB CITY Heaps On The Noir

PT112613

TNT’s MOB CITY not only brings to TV a stylized, noir look at a crime ridden Los Angeles, but it also signals the return of acclaimed show runner Frank Darabont. Franks talks about what hooked him on the project and how he chose the cast that fit the era just right. Plus DOCTOR WHO scores big and Warren Ellis takes a crack at MOON KNIGHT.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Mike Gold: Burning Questions

Gold Art 131106Tired, cranky, and on-deadline with an empty thought balloon hovering over my head. But I have these questions that are keeping me up nights, questions that must be answered. For example:

1) Who’s got Who?

IDW’s Doctor Who ends at the Christmas special. They bid on renewal of the license, unsuccessfully. Others bid as well. Somebody got it, and, as of this writing, nobody knows who. Or Who. Whom? Anyway, conventional wisdom says it’s Titan Comics out in the U of K. Some think it might be the BBC itself. I think Panini might have taken a shot at it – they’ve been publishing Doctor Who Magazine for quite some time.

But for some amusing reason, the BBC is keeping quiet about it. And while they’re not known for being the most enthusiastic business people in the neighborhood, on the occasion of the Doctor’s 50th anniversary they ain’t leaving nobody’s money on the table.

2) Exiles from the DC Nation?

So everybody was running around counter-clockwise in tiny concentric circles wondering who was not going to be offered a ride to Los Angeles when DC Comics’ New York facility goes west in 2015. That loud sigh of relief you heard Monday was from the New York staffers after honcho Diane Nelson said nobody was getting fired because of the move, that everybody would keep their jobs if they so desired.

Yes, indeed. However, they have all of 2014 to thin the herd if they so desire. And offering you a west coast job without fully covering moving costs is another way to thin the herd. Of course, some DC staffers own houses, condos, or co-ops, but they’ve got a year to sell them. And then learn how to drive a car – not all New Yorkers know how to do that.

3) Hourman? Really?

Evidently, The CW (in which Warner Bros. has a strong minority ownership position) has an Hourman teevee show in development. They’re not saying which version of the character they’re working on – is there even a viable Hourman in The New 52? – but if Arrow is any indication, they’ll pick what they want from most of them. In case you came in late, Hourman is about this dude who invented a pill that he thinks gives him superpowers for… an hour. Most latter versions featured people who were related to the original.

This is not a great idea for a teevee show. Hell, you can’t even show a bad guy smoking a cigarette on-screen. The good guy dropping a tab and flying around seems even more problematical. And when he crashes to Earth at Minute 61, they will be ripping off The Greatest American Hero.

You remember The Greatest American Hero, don’t you? DC unsuccessfully sued the producers, claiming it was a rip-off of Superman. Hey, that’s how irony works.

4) Are you Thor about this?

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be picking up the leftover plot strings from Thor: The Dark World. That’s pretty cool. But we’ve been warned not to expect any of the major stars to show up on the “small” screen.

I dunno about that. Maybe. But after Samuel L. Jackson showed up at the end of the pilot episode, I think everything is up for grabs.

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: The Tweaks!

 

Doctor Who “The Day of the Doctor” to be simulcast in 3-D theaters

BBC announced this week details of the theatrical showings of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, with US showings details released today. Fifteen theaters in eleven US cities will be presenting the anniversary episode, starring Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt as The Doctor, with Jenna Coleman and Billie Piper as their companions.

Tickets go on sale at 9AM Eastern Time, October 25th, via Fandango.com and Cinemark.com.  Considering the effect that Doctor Who fans had on the ticket website when the season premiere was to be shown in NYC (think the San Diego or healthcare.gov websites), it is presumed the demand will be heavy indeed.

The complete theater list is:

  • Los Angeles – Cinemark Rave 18 + IMAX (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Los Angeles – Century 20 Bella Terra at Huntington Beach (Huntington Beach, CA)
  • New York – AMC Loews Village 7 (New York, NY)
  • New York – Regal E-Walk Stadium 13 & RPX (New York, NY)
  • Chicago – Century 12 Evanston + XD (Evanston, IL)
  • Chicago – Cinemark @ Seven Bridges + IMAX (Woodridge, IL)
  • Philadelphia – Cinemark Rave Cinemas University City 6 (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Philadelphia – Cinemark 16 (Somerdale, NJ)
  • Dallas-Ft. Worth – Cinemark West Plano + XD (Plano, TX)
  • San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose – Century San Francisco Centre 9 and XD (San Francisco, CA)
  • Washington, DC – Cinemark Rave Cinemas Fairfax Corner 14 + XD (Fairfax, VA)
  • Houston – Cinemark Tinseltown 17 and XD (The Woodlands, TX)
  • Atlanta – Cinemark Tinseltown 17 (Fayetteville, GA)
  • Seattle-Tacoma – Cinemark Lincoln Square Cinemas (Bellevue, WA)
  • Minneapolis – AMC Southdale 16 (Edina, MN)

In addition to the day and date broadcast, Fathom Events will be hosting a rebroadcast the evening of Monday, November 25, in over 300 theaters.  Fathom Events hosts many live and special events simulcast in theaters nationally, including live performances by the RiffTrax team, formerly the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Doctor Who tumblr page has posted a FAQ page about the event, including  details for viewing in other countries, and the complete list of theaters participating in the Monday evening event.

The Day of the Doctor is being simulcast globally on November 23rd, the 50th anniversary of the series, so that the fans can enjoy the episode all at once, with no chance of spoilers.  The episode will be be broadcast on BBC America – check your local carrier for channel details.

Emily S. Whitten: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – The Interviews!

Whitten Art 131001-1It’s stating the obvious to say that the modern Marvel movie machine has managed both to churn out a slew of awesome, successful movies, and to not fall into the trap of assembly-line production – in other words, that the movies, while they’ve built on each other beautifully and gained momentum with each new release, are all pretty unique and true to the characters and storylines they draw from. But how does that translate when Marvel tries to move such epic stories, in both scope and character, to the small screen? Pretty well, it turns out, with Joss Whedon and co. running the show.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot aired Tuesday the 24th, and proved that it is possible to tell small screen stories against the background of the current Marvel cinematic series. In fact, it gives the opportunity to tell larger stories with less – as in the pilot, where the plot builds on the fallout from The Avengers and the Battle of New York. Without showing the grand, epic event, the show is able to easily reference the new state of the world for both S.H.I.E.L.D. and ordinary citizens. Watchers who have seen the movie will instantly understand the world-building at work; and even those who somehow missed the movie will easily pick up on it and understand why as the series begins, S.H.I.E.L.D. is finding its place as “the line between the world and the weirder world.”

That weirder world could not be in better hands than those of Joss Whedon and his team. The pilot is an excellent blend of Whedon show elements that we know and love – witty banter, engaging characters (including women!) kicking ass and taking names, cameos of actors from previous Whedon projects (Ron Glass! J. August Richards!), and a mixture of action, adventure, wonder, mystery, and heart; and the Marvel canon and characterization that Marvel fans live for. The S.H.I.E.L.D. character we’ve come to love from the movies, Coulson, continues to be characterized as an endearingly geeky guy, and yet is now developing into a leader as well; and the new characters, like Skye, Ward, Fitz, Simmons, and May, are already, in one episode, fleshed out enough for viewers to care about what happens to them next.

We also get to see glimpses of the Marvel cinematic universe in elements such as Maria Hill’s appearance, and the involvement of the Extremis virus. There are little Easter eggs for Marvel fans (like the almost-but-subverted-at-the-last-second Spider-Man quote); and references to people cosplaying as their newly discovered in-world superheroes, the Avengers. And most interestingly, from the very first, we are introduced to a take on S.H.I.E.L.D. that’s not entirely heroic – a S.H.I.E.L.D. that exists in the gray area of trying to protect Earth’s inhabitants from danger, and running the risk of becoming the invasive danger that people may have to fear. There’s an obvious analogue to the real world’s decreasing respect for privacy, and it’s accompanied by a serious (and seriously depressing) take on the current real-world economy and our displaced, unanchored work force of unemployed or marginally employed adults. Despite those themes being pretty darned depressing, I was happy to see them tackled head-on, and will be interested to see where the writers go with that next.

Speaking of the writers, at SDCC this year I sat down to chat with the writers and cast of the show, and now, I get to share those chats with you! (And although sadly my battery died too soon, I can also share a couple of short video clips of Joss Whedon and Clark Gregg, along with newly-uploaded clips from the Psych press room, I Know That Voice panel, and more.) Enjoy!

Jeff Bell (executive producer, showrunner, and writer) and Jeph Loeb (head of Marvel Television and executive producer)

The characters feel like broad archetypes at this point – the loner who doesn’t play well with others; the badass woman; the geeky pair…how quickly will we see them be fleshed out, or see other sides of them?

Bell: That’s the whole point of the TV show. We can’t do what a Marvel movie does every week, because we don’t have 250 million dollars a week. We’ve got good chunks of money to tell stories, but most of the stories are going to be about the characters. And arcing those characters out; finding relationships – who likes who, who doesn’t like whom, and why; secrets between all of them. So…I think no one’s exactly who you think they are, and we’re building that, hopefully for a long period of time.

Loeb: I also think that one of the things that makes our show different from the movies but still within the Marvel universe is that it’s about the intimacy of the characters on a television show. Television once upon a time was ‘being invited into your living room.’ It’s gone to the next level. It’s now on your laptop, on your tablet; and guess what, now it’s on your phone, which is the most intimate thing; it’s touching your face. So let’s hope that those people, when they touch your face, actually are people that you love and are complex and have all the richness that you know from shows that Joss has done in the past, and that all the people who are involved with this have done in the past. It’s the fun of it.

With the movies and all, when did this show start coming into production? What was the process?

Loeb: We started Marvel Television three years ago, with our partnership with ABC Studios and ABC; we knew we wanted to have a show that would make a lot of noise; and obviously there were some things we hadn’t developed, because that’s a process – but it was really right after The Avengers that Marvel had a conversation with ABC, and we had this idea for a show about S.H.I.E.L.D.

Bell: Wait, whose idea was it?

Loeb: (pointing to Clark Gregg) It was that man’s idea.

Bell: He said, “You know what would be cool? If I’m not really dead.”

Loeb: True story – Clark and I were at a signing, because Clark actually appears in our animated series, Ultimate Spider-Man, as Agent Coulson, and he turned to me at one point and said, “I have a secret: Coulson lives.” And I said, “Yes.” And he goes, “On television.” And I said, “Yeah I know. But people don’t know you’re dead yet, so we need to do that part first; and then I think we can probably talk to the network about it afterwards.” And Clark said, “Okay, as long as that’s the plan.” But to give credit where credit’s due, none of this would have started without Joss, Jed, Maurissa, and Jeff, who came up with a spectacular pilot, and an arc out for literally about 100 episodes, that enabled everyone at Marvel to get incredibly excited about it, and produce a show that is worthy of the pedigree of the movies and everything else that we do at Marvel.

Since the rights to some Marvel characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men are with other studios, will we be seeing any of that on TV at all?

Loeb: Only in animation. Obviously the Marvel universe is a vast expanse of characters, but I think the fun of this show in particular is that Jeff and Jed and Maurissa and Joss have created, in Coulson and Ward and May and Fitz and Simmons and Skye, really memorable characters who will now join the Marvel universe in a very major way.

In the development, were there ever any elements that Marvel wanted that ABC was not excited about?

Loeb: This has been an incredible partnership. I know it always sounds like, “Ooh, silver clouds…” but Jeff, talk about that first day, when you guys came in and told the story to the network.

Whitten Art 131001-3Bell: Well here’s what’s nice, because traditionally, Marvel skews to a lot of guys. And ABC kind of skews more female. And then there’s Joss, who’s like the perfect Venn diagram of what you want in a show. So it’s great to see Joss’s version of a Marvel series – because ABC’s interested in emotion, and Joss is interested in emotion, and so it’s really about keeping that as our bulls-eye, and then finding different stories around that. But ABC loves that part of our storytelling. And then if we can do that against the giant, epic scope of a Marvel canvas, with superheroes and things from other places, and cool gadgets from S.H.I.E.L.D. and stuff like that, it’s just a different way to tell emotional stories. And so it’s been a great fit.

How much of the first season is planned out? Are there overarching themes we should know about?

Loeb: We know where we’re going. When you go in to talk about a television show, your initial order is the pilot plus twelve episodes. So you always have to have a plan for that, and so we go in and talk about what we will do for that; and then if successful and there is a back nine, you should have ideas for that as well. So we went in with that, and also a sense of what a second season would be, and right now we’re shooting episode two, and prepping episodes three and four. That’s where we are in the cycle.

How much of a procedural is this going to be?

Loeb: The show is about investigating the weird, the unusual, the strange, and the phenomenal that are in the Marvel universe. It is about a team that assesses that threat. Sometimes that threat is something that they’re going to have to take care of; and sometimes that threat is something that needs to be protected from somebody else that wants to exploit that sort of thing. The show enables us to tell stories that are in straight-ahead procedurals; but also there are all different kinds of things that you’ve come to know from your Whedon shows.

In the movie, S.H.I.E.L.D. responds to several disembodied voices that happen to be a real menace; are you addressing that here?

Loeb: Our plane is a mobile command unit that Director Fury has sort of allowed Coulson to do; and so we tell those stories. There are times when we will connect with big S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m not saying that we will connect with Director Fury; but we will tell stories within the entire S.H.I.E.L.D. universe. They’ll be international, and go all over the planet. Sometimes it’s just us; sometimes it’s big. But going back to your procedural question – it’s not a body of the week story; but we are trying to do standalone episodes the way we did on Angel and Buffy, that had an emotional element to it, and you find metaphors within it that allow you to tell the stories that reflect who your characters are. Sometimes that’s procedural, yes, but the way we break them, really, is about the emotional lives and what kind of story we want to tell.

What’s really important about the show at the end of the day is that you have that feeling of epic adventure and at the same time, the human spirit. You want to be able to be invested in these people and the show. I think that what is so remarkable about the pilot, and then it’s carried over, is that there are moments of great humor, moments where you’ll get teary-eyed, and then there are moments of like, “Wow.” If you can capture that at 8:00 on a Tuesday night, you’re doing kinda okay!

Bell: Coming up with stories, the words we have up on the wall are: funny; sad; wondrous; beautiful – and if we can get all four of those into an episode? We’re really happy. But Marvel is very aspirational; it is optimistic – our characters are enthusiasts; they’re not cynics. They’re excited about science, about history, about the world – and so we try and show that.

Are you going to pull from the canon stories; for example, something like Civil War where S.H.I.E.L.D. played a big part?

Loeb: The Marvel universe is the Marvel universe – and it’s like with everything else that we do, whether it’s publishing; games; the animation world; the cinematic universe; and now the television universe – it’s all one world. Sometimes certain things aren’t going to line up exactly along the way. This is obviously one that is tied in more to the cinematic universe. But there is nothing that would stop us from doing any kinds of stories, as long as it is something compelling, and emotional, and fun.

Maurissa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon (executive producers and writers)

It’s clear in the pilot that Agent Coulson is in charge of things, and a key character; is that something you’re going to explore more?

Tancharoen: Yes; we’re highlighting someone you’ve only seen glimpses of in the Marvel cinematic universe, so I think yes, we’re giving him some authority, some swagger. He already had that, naturally. Now we’re just able to display it.

Jed Whedon: We feel like he’s a great company man; he’s the face of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Now we get to reveal more about that character. In every film, Coulson was expanded on a little bit. In Avengers he got some real meat. So now we get to dig in even further. And Clark is the perfect person to do that with. We love him very much.

It was great to kind of see Cobie Smulders in it for a second; do you envision her appearing now and then?

Jed Whedon: There are certain rules that we have to obey; but we are open to anything.

Tancharoen: Right – I mean, it is a goal to be able to pull people from what’s already been established, and bob and weave them throughout our series.

What’s the split of new characters created in the show, and people we might have seen in the comics, either in passing or as main characters? How much will be canon versus new material?

Jed Whedon: It’s a little of both. Right now we’re working from story first, and then there’s so much in the comic world, that a lot of the ideas we come up with, we can say, “Is there a guy that does that?”

Tancharoen: And the answer is yes. Always. That’s a good and a bad thing.

Jed Whedon: It works both ways; that makes it easy and fun.

When you’re writing stories for the season, how mindful do you have to be about weaving in stuff from Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: Winter Soldier, and the cinematic universe?

Tancharoen: We’re always communicating with what’s happening in the feature universe; and our goal is to complement one another, and weave our storylines in there, or maybe there will just be a little kernel that you see over there and vice-versa.

Jed Whedon: There’s lots of fallout from the films that we can play with, and we can lead into them in a way. We want to make it so that it’s more rewarding to watch both, on both ends. So if you’re watching the TV show you’ll get something in the movie or be like, “I know what that means.”

Who from the Marvel universe would you most like to weave in to the story?

Jed Whedon: Every Avenger.

Tancharoen: If we could.

Jed Whedon: We’re open to all those people.

Tancharoen: We joke about having an episode where the whole thing is like, “Oh, you just missed Iron Man. Aw man, Thor was just here! He had his shirt off.”

Jed Whedon: But we don’t want the show to become that, where you feel like you’re missing something. We want to exist on our own.

Tancharoen: And we’re hoping that people will fall in love with our cast of characters, and maybe not even have that expectation.

Jed Whedon: And then if it does happen, it will be rewarding, and not disappointing if it doesn’t.

How familiar are you with the comics – have you been readers for years? Are you still doing research by reading back issues?

Jed Whedon: There’s so much reading that we have to do; when we’re not working on the show, we’re reading.

How unreliable an authority figure is Coulson going to be? Is he going to be lying a lot? Will we see people challenge his right to be in charge?

Jed Whedon: I think we’ll figure that out as we go along; at this point, we can’t say much. …It will be cool, and stuff will happen.

What are you most excited about for the pilot, and how would you describe if to someone who hasn’t seen it?

Jed Whedon: Fun is what we’re going for.

Tancharoen: I think something that exists in all the Marvel movies is their humor. There’s tons of action and humor. That’s something that’s existed in a lot of Joss’s work as well. It always comes back to the humor, or there’s a really poignant emotional moment. We’re trying to do that on our show. Our cast of characters are all real human people. We’re dealing with the world post-what happened in The Avengers, so the entire population is going through this transition period of realizing that there are aliens, there are gods, there are monsters, and so I think a big part of our team’s job is going to be helping those people through it.

What’s your experience writing Coulson and the newer characters?

Jed Whedon: Coulson is really fun to write for. Fitz / Simmons is great – when you write a Fitz / Simmons scene, it ends up being too long.

Tancharoen: Because you just want to go on forever; even though it’s all science talk. The way they bicker and banter is fun.

Jed Whedon: And one of the things that’s very fun about this process is discovering the characters as we go. We just started shooting the second episode. Seeing all the things we’ve been discussing for months come to life is very rewarding.

Tancharoen: And we have a fantastic cast. They all embody everything we picture so well. We’re really excited for everyone to get to see them.

What are the greatest challenges of introducing new characters?

Tancharoen: We feel the pressure.

Jed Whedon: And when we don’t feel the pressure, people say, “How are you doing with all that pressure?” We have a duty to a lot of fans. But our approach is always to try to have fun, and try to make something that we would enjoy. We want to make something for everyone; but also something that, if we sat down and watched it, we would have to watch the next one.

Tancharoen: I think our goal is much like what Joss accomplished in Buffy – it will have stand-alones, with the mythology woven throughout. And every week there was a monster of the week or challenge of the week that was a metaphor for the emotional journeys our characters were going on. So hopefully if we do that successfully, and there’s humor, and there’s action, and there’s Marvel in there; hopefully the Marvel fans will be satisfied.

How challenging was the casting process?

Tancharoen: Very. We swept the world. We had casting offices in Australia, the UK, Toronto, Vancouver, New York, and Los Angeles, going at the same time. And Brett Dalton, who plays Ward, he read in New York, on tape, and we saw him on the tape and brought him in for a screen test. Chloe is somebody who we brought back several times.

Jed Whedon: The other thing I’ll say that was great is, we didn’t compromise. And we got our first choices in every category. That’s rare and you’ll see it when you see the show.

Tancharoen: And Clark at the center of them really works.

How hands-on will Joss be moving forwards?

Jed Whedon: He’ll be involved a lot in shaping stories. We’re in constant contact. But he does have other things on his plate that people are excited about right now…

Does he read every script?

Jed Whedon: Oh yes, and every idea is run by him, and so I’m sure he’ll come in at some point and write some more…

Tancharoen: Everyone will definitely feel his presence, even when he’s not right there.

Chloe Bennet (Skye) & Brett Dalton (Grant Ward)

Skye starts out not trusting the people in S.H.I.E.L.D.; and it seems like by the end she’s on board. Do you think that’s it?

Bennet: No! I don’t think that’s it. I think one of Skye’s biggest assets is being able to…she has really good people skills. She can fool people; she hides stuff very well. She’s a people person, she can get her way and manipulate things. I’m not saying she’s doing that – but what you see is not all you’re going to get with Skye.

How would you introduce your characters?

Dalton: Agent Grant Ward is a specialist. He’s highly trained in espionage, hand-to-hand combat, tactical operations, weapons…I could go on. This is a looong list. But he’s a lone wolf. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be part of a team. He’s used to being the solution; the entire solution. So I think what you’ll see is him figuring out what to do now.

Bennet: Skye is a computer hacker. Very good with computers. But she’s that rare case of computer hacker where she’s not Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and kind of weird. She’s a people person; she’s outgoing and she knows how to work both computers and people. She kind of stumbles into the S.H.I.E.L.D. world and mixes things up a bit. I think she’s like the last piece of this puzzle that Coulson’s putting together as a team. Everyone complements each other in their own little way.

Dalton: You have skills that none of us do.

Bennet: And you have skills that Skye doesn’t have. Skye and Ward balance each other really well, I think. They’re polar opposites, yet both really talented. He’s a lone wolf; Skye is an activist. She’s about bringing the people together; people uprising against something that may not be fair or just. I think they’re going to learn from each other, maybe. …Maybe a little more than learn…? I dunno…

Whitten Art 131001-4How much do you know about the Marvel universe? Do you recognize the references and Easter eggs?

Bennet: I’ve always been a fan of the movies. And then being cast, you’re like, “I gotta go read everything, now!” It’s really interesting. I’ve re-watched all the movies; and I get why fans are so loyal to the brand.

Dalton: And it’s an ongoing universe, too. The Battle of New York, that happens, doesn’t just disappear, like, “New York is just fine again!” in the next movie. It’s an ongoing, continuing universe, which is really interesting.

Bennet: With the movies and the show. The Battle of New York really does affect the pilot, and our characters in the show.

Dalton: There’s continuity between them.

Brett; in the show, you’re kind of the straight man. Do you hope you get to do more comedy?

Dalton: Well here’s the thing: I actually always thought Ward was hilarious. You know, he has little lines in there.

Bennet: And Ward thinks he’s hilarious.

Do you guys improv at all?

Bennet: You don’t have to with writing like this. Joss writes words; I speak them. You know, you improv the way you say things.

Dalton: The writing is just that good, honestly. And I’ve worked on other things where they give you that opportunity to riff, but they’ve just done such a good job with the writing.

Bennet: There’s a flow in what Joss writes, and the way the characters speak. It’s just easy, and it’s different, and it’s funny; and the timing – you can just read it when you see it. It makes it so enjoyable.

How much do your characters get to kick ass?

Bennet: Skye not so much, yet, uh…

Are you looking forward to that?

Bennet: Yes. I’m always saying, “You can let me do it! I’m fine; I’ve got six brothers! I won’t be worried about getting hurt!” I’m really looking forward to hopefully Skye being taught by Ward.

Dalton: Yeah, you know, I could see that happening.

Do you have a favorite Marvel character you’d like to see come into the show? Or a specific Marvel actor you’d like to work with?

Bennet: My favorite Marvel character is Jean Grey, and Jean as the Phoenix; I don’t know if that would be such a good thing if she came into S.H.I.E.L.D., unless it was as Jean Grey; but that won’t happen. But I think I wouldn’t mind Thor coming back. Not to do anything; just to come by and see me.

Dalton: I’m the hugest Robert Downey Jr. fan. He’s so good. Even if he was just on the intercom or something. Even if it was just his voice; anything. I’d love, love, love to work with him.

Bennet: If he was working, and I wasn’t working that day, I’d just come to set anyway.

Dalton: Yeah, it’d just be like, “Why is everyone on set today…?” And I’d say my favorite Marvel character is The Punisher. Good ol’ Frank Castle. Because he’s just a guy with a ton of skills; he doesn’t really have a superpower – he just has guns. And vengeance.

Bennet: He’s like Ward, almost.

Bennet: What about Spider-Woman? Spider-Woman was in S.H.I.E.L.D.!

Iain De Caestecker (Leo Fitz) & Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons)

The writers just said you are their favorite characters to write; do you think your characters have a long history together, and have you been told about that?

Henstridge: We know that we’ve come up together, and trained together. It’s wonderful to play with that dynamic, and know that your character has a relationship like that to explore. That’s really exciting and fun.

De Caestecker: They’ve kind of got that weird dynamic like a brother and sister, where they argue furiously about things, and at the same time, they really depend on each other; especially when they’re out of their comfort zones. I think they see each other as a source of security.

How were the characters described to you when you first got involved?

De Caestecker: Well, we were only given a scene to audition with at first.

Henstridge: And I think because the script was kind of written, but not locked, my audition was very much like, “Come to us with your version of what these lines mean to you, or what you envision for the character, and then play with them. And at my audition they got me to do the character, just to kind of see what that would be like; so it was wonderful to be in a process that was still so fluid and flexible.

Science nerds in Joss Whedon shows have a tendency to turn evil. Do you see that happening for you?

De Caestecker: I don’t know what’s going to happen there.

Would you want to play a villain?

Henstridge: There’s such a fine line between good and evil; and so, you can be one or the other with the same intentions, the same common motivation to do what you think is right. So I think that anyone could do good or evil.

What’s your impression of their relationship with Coulson?

De Caestecker: I think there’s probably a side of him that really scares them. I think they’d probably try to avoid him as much as possible; but, at the same time, I think they are very conscious of what they do and how good they are at it. So when they achieve something that they think is really great, they’re really quick to tell everyone, and they’d be very quick to let Coulson know.

Henstridge: Yeah; and I mean, he’s sort of the father to us all; they desperately want to impress him, but he keeps raising the bar. So it’s that kind of, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t get up there,” and then they work together, and they come back and are like, “We made it!” and he’ll go, “Okay, well now it’s here!” It’s that kind of back and forth.

I think the thing about the team that Coulson’s tried to pick is that on the surface they already specialize in what they do, but one of the main focal points is them overcoming things that scare them, and situations that they’ve never found themselves in, which is kind of the biggest challenge for them.

How would you describe the characters to those who don’t know them?

Henstridge: I would say that Simmons is a biochemist. She’s incredible at what she does, with lab work, and figuring out samples, and she’s come up very quickly at a very young age, and hasn’t really had much social interaction, other than with science.

De Caestecker: Fitz specializes in engineering. I suppose he’s responsible for all the gadgets and things you see in the show; the technology. But yeah, he’s similar. I think they’ve both found themselves being locked away too long in the lab, so when they’re actually put in these situations, a lot of their insecurities and fears come out.

Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson)

In the movies, especially Avengers, it felt like Coulson was the audience surrogate. And in the TV show, you’re the one who kind of controls the ball. Does that change how you see the character?

Gregg: Well, I was pretty sure I was dead. I was really sad. Because I really dug being this guy. Especially as every different writing and directing team came along and added to the chain letter of who this guy was, and I got to find out. And that’s been kind of the weird, funny acting game that goes with this guy, is, “Oh! Oh, I’m that.” And that was never more fully realized then when Joss kind of took what was clearly there, and of course he’s got the trading cards; of course he’s got a monstrous embarrassing man-crush on Captain America. It all makes sense – of course he does. And so I loved being the fan avatar there; because I love this stuff. I loved it when was a kid. I’m a huge sci-fi nerd. I was a bit of a Marvel nerd when I was young; and to get to be that guy meant everything to me. So I was really sad the day I had to go in there and get shanked by that Asgardian bastard!

So when I got a call saying, “Listen, you may not be 100% dead”? I was well and truly stoked. But I had to make sure that it didn’t undermine The Avengers, and once Joss explained to me where he thought he was going on that, and it was so ridiculously cool and dark, I was in. That said, I had to kind of take the writers out to dinner – although I made them pay – and say, this is the deal: when I’m playing this guy, I always have to sit down with whoever it is and go, “Who am I now? What am I doing here?” And to go from bleeding out on the floor of the Helicarrier to putting together a fast-response S.H.I.E.L.D. team in this pilot – that’s a different Phil Coulson.

To a certain extent, I think he’s pretty limber, in terms of his ability to do stuff; and Director Fury has tasked him to what I think is probably the most pressing concern. It’s an interesting choice by Director Fury. He’s going to take this guy who’s been the kind of diva-wrangler; the guy who is, like, managing the green room at Coachella for the Avengers, and put him in charge of  this very fast-response team that he gets to pick himself, using really weird instincts of his own. To deal with a world after The Avengers, where we’ve gone from knowing about Tony Stark and his bitchin’ suits, and maybe a little Hulk and Abomination in New York, to wormholes and Chitauri invasions; and everybody wants a piece of that. So it makes perfect sense; you get to keep the spectacle of those movies but put it in a smaller human context, as represented by Coulson in the movies – the people who can bleed. And that’s a perfect recipe for a TV show.

When I got the second script, I thought it was going to be a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents trapped in an elevator, because there wouldn’t be any money left after the pilot. So when I got that, and it’s more spectacle – if I survive a season of this, it’s going to be really amazing to see.

How much are we going to see of Coulson’s personal versus professional life?

Gregg: He’s a wonderful dancer. We’re going to see a lot of his dancing. And if know Joss, there will be a musical episode. But I’ve seen the episode I’m shooting now; I’ve seen the pilot. Other than that, I don’t know. I’m so impressed by how Marvel takes what happens, and then exploits it right the way all the fans would want them to – Joss being a key part of that. The fans wanted Coulson back to life – it happened. As a fan, I saw The Avengers, and I thought, “Man, they’re going to be pissed that he’s still alive, and he’s going to be pissed about his cards!” We’re going to probably have to find out about this cellist; so I’d be shocked if we didn’t go down those roads. But I’m just speaking as a fan now.

Seeing your likeness in the Spider-Man cartoon, does that amuse you?

Gregg: It amuses me to no end. To see him in the comics; and the fact that they so politely make me fitter and better-looking in all of my comic appearances; it’s really nice of them. I can’t compete with a lot of people I know at the San Diego Comic-Con, but I was into comics. So to see myself get drawn by various people kind of kills me. If I could get Jim Starlin to draw me someday, I would die.

Is Coulson going to be a little bit evil, or compromised?

Gregg: Evil’s very relative. There are people who thought he was evil at times in the movies, and I never thought so. I thought it was pragmatism.

Do you think the situation makes Fury look more manipulative?

Gregg: Yes; Coulson being alive makes Nick Fury more manipulative; but I’m not sure we know the whole picture yet. I wouldn’t leap to judgment on Director Fury. A lot of people have gotten into trouble rushing to judgment on Director Fury’s motives. I know there’s an answer to what Coulson’s doing here, after we saw him in such bad shape in The Avengers. We certainly get one hit of information in the pilot, but I think it opens a whole different can of questions.

What can you tell us about the relationship between Coulson and the team? Does he have a favorite?

Gregg: All I know is what I know from the pilot – he picks them, and some of them make perfect sense; others are really surprising. And just as it’s up to you to guess which of the Avengers he liked most; I think he’s going to be like a good crazy uncle – you’ll never know which kid he likes the best.

It seems like Coulson’s relationship to authority is changing. How does that affect how you play the character?

Gregg: I think you can’t have happen to you what happens to him in The Avengers and not have it change you on a very deep if not cellular level. I think he’s in a state of flux. I think everything’s up for grabs at the moment.

Ming-Na Wen (Melinda May)

Did you read Marvel comics as a kid?

Wen: I read some; I read a lot of fluffy comics, and the newspaper; but for me it was later, as I matured, that I got really into it. Because all of the stories – you realize it’s fantastical, but at the same time, it always dealt with the human emotions – the vulnerabilities. Especially with Marvel characters. They’re always struggling with something; they’re always in pain. And weren’t we all in pain, growing up? We can identify.

What’s your favorite trait or characteristic of your character?

Wen: I just love how Melinda May is always kind of cool. It’s nice to be that. It’s nice to be able to walk and feel confident and strong and just feel like at any second, if anybody messes with her, she’ll be able to handle the situation. Me, in the meantime…no, no, I do the same! That’s right! …When I’m in my garden.

You obviously get to kick some ass in the pilot.

Wen: Well, you know, when they showed the trailer, and they showed my fight scene, I was like, “Oh, okay – I think the bar’s been raised quite a bit now.” I love it. It’s a great way to stay in shape, and it’s a great way to kind of flex the guns every so often. I see how guys like to do that.

Given that your character is such a badass, why does she not want to be in the field?

Wen: I think that’s what’s so mysterious about her. There’s some sort of history in her character that is making her reluctant; and it will slowly be revealed. I think she has a history that I can’t wait to have revealed, and I believe she has history with Coulson. You know, they’re both vets; they both worked hard to get to Level Seven, and I can’t imagine S.H.I.E.L.D. being such a huge, huge force, so I’m sure their paths crossed. I mean, there’s a reason why he’s recruited her, and I think it’s because he wants somebody there who’s got the experience.

What’s the coolest thing about playing a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent?

Wen: Wearing that badge! That’s pretty badass, just to walk around with that badge. And this whole experience has been amazing. Every day, I’m really thankful.

So which relationship that your character has are you most interested in seeing developed?

Wen: I think because it’s such a new team, her reaction to the young kids is going to be interesting. I think that’s probably very new for her; and what her role is. Because right now, I sense that her role is to sort of be a protector of them. But then again, not knowing what kind of missions they’re going into, it could just be that they’re really annoying to her. There might not be these life and death situations; so it’s going to be interesting to see. But for me – definitely her relationship with Coulson, and how that develops.

How aware were you of Joss’s previous work, and specifically his penchant for badass warrior women?

Wen: Don’t you love him for that? How can you not watch any Joss Whedon, as a woman, and as a geek girl? You know – the Buffys – he taps into that, and I don’t know why, but God bless him. He’s a geek god, and every day I went to work for the pilot, I was just like, “I’m speaking Joss’s words! He’s in the same room with me!” He’s like a rock star to me. So – yeah – I had to stay very professional.

What’s your favorite of his past shows or characters?

Wen: Buffy definitely is one of my top favorites. I grew up with that; and that was such an amazing ensemble of actors. And he always had the humor, mixed with everything. And how cool is it to have J. August Richards in the pilot?

This character is so mysterious that it’s a bit different than some of his other characters. I think over time, that will bleed in, where you start to really understand her, or warm up to her. She becomes more humanized, with the experience; that’s how I feel. I don’t know where it can go, because there are some other shows where if a character is this way, they stay that way for the duration; it’s expected of them. And I think with her, she starts off being really tough and not very talkative, and hopefully over time when she starts making connections with people, she’ll develop more.

Joss Whedon (executive producer, director, and writer)

These guys are a lot more like Wolfram & Hart than they are like Angel Investigations; how do you turn guys like that into the underdogs?

Joss Whedon: That’s something we’ve been joking about since the beginning – they’re a ragtag group of faceless bureaucrats who control your every move! And that’s honestly a conflict that we open with, by making Skye a member of the team. On some level, we’ll be having our cake and eating it too – which is a delightful phrase for hypocrisy! And on some level, hopefully we’ll be able to broach the issue in a way that’s not trivializing – but if we’re dealing with it as writers, and the audience is dealing with it, then the characters need to as well. You know, sometimes S.H.I.E.L.D. will be the thing that makes it better, and sometimes S.H.I.E.L.D. will be the thing that makes it worse. It’s a very gray area; and that’s part of what makes it exciting.

Who’s your favorite new character of the series?

Joss Whedon: Well, I love all my children equally! Honestly, I really do love all my children; it’s a great show. But Fitz / Simmons, because of my boarding school days, I have particular feeling about. We did not write them to be British – but they sure ended up being that way! I guess it’s okay to call them my favorites because there are two of them; so they have double power.

At what point will they turn evil?

Joss Whedon: Oh, they’re already evil! They’re scientists – and they’re British.

As you’re working on the show, how much does you helping on the show impact your work on Avengers II, or how much do you keep that separate?

Joss Whedon: When it’s movie time, it’s movie time, and everything else has to fall by the wayside. It will require enormous focus, and always does, to do both. The good news is sometimes when you’ve been thinking about one thing all day, the way I relax is to think about something else. “Oh, a different puzzle!” Sometimes you’re like, “Uhh, more work;” and sometimes you’re like, “Oh thank God! A completely different set of problems.” So I will do as much as I can, but I have surrounded myself with people who are extraordinary at doing it when I’m not around.

Will we see the Hulk?

Joss Whedon: Yeah, we will totally see the Hulk, because it’s super cheap. We could do that on a television budget; if you don’t mind that he’s South Park Hulk.

Speaking of the budget, how will you be able to sustain the level of spectacle?

Joss Whedon: We’re not really about the level of spectacle. Obviously we want to have some big episodes, and for me, it’s like you’re opening a comic book – “I want to see something cool!” But you’re opening it because you love the people who were in it last month. It’s about these six characters. One of the things that I loved about Avengers was that Marvel’s very dedicated to building spectacle from character. And they weren’t afraid to have two people sit around and talk; for a while. And for the show, I want there to be episodes that are very intimate, where very little happens; because the emotional consequences are ultimately the only thing that ever matter, no matter how much shit you blow up.

And on that note, hope you enjoyed these awesome interviews, and until next time, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

 

Martin Pasko: City On The Edge of Forgetaboutit

Pasko Art 130815If you follow this column regularly (in which case I apologize for the feelings of loneliness and alienation), you might remember me mentioning that I now reside in Los Angeles, which is the perfect city to move to if you’re really desperate to live in a comic book. It’s so colorful and exciting and full of funny-looking noises. Like when the valet at Jerry’s Deli on Ventura slides that new car you haven’t even started making the payments on yet into a parking space narrower than its wheel base – at 120 mph – because he thinks he’s Batman.

So I am thrilled to report I’m serene, I tell you, serene as I continue to sit around, keyboarding like this. Only now I do it for fun because the keyboard I’m using is the digital one on my smartphone, and it’s now in my lap as I write this, with the vibration intensity on the haptic feedback set to “Maximum.”

Sorry.

I am, however, finding it somewhat more lonely here than I’d anticipated.

Many of my old friends – the kind who keep insisting I refer to them on social media as “not-old-that-way” – don’t get out much. They glide about their palatial homes in motorized tricycles which have to be loaded into their very tiny cars when a group of us goes out to lunch. Whereupon the one who still has enough use of his legs to actually drive a car keeps asking the voice on the GPS to speak louder, so he can hear her replies to his inappropriate comments about how hot she sounds and what time she gets off work.

Meanwhile, the other three beg me to push their motorized tricycles out into freeway traffic while they are still in them, because their fingers are too arthritic to use a trackpad and none of them has mastered SEO well enough to Google for the guy who inherited Jack Kevorkian’s equipment.

Thus I find myself in the rather odd position of actually looking forward to inviting to lunch Stan The Man, who, as you know, lives in Beverly Hills. And is not too busy to see me because there are no animation studios or comic book companies left out here with whom he can jointly announce a project that will be completed after you and I are dead.

 (“Just came back from The Mansion and I’m way stoked, ‘cause Hef an’ I are This Close to launchin’ that whole Spider-Bunny thing.”)

I’ll have to find a way to break it gently to Mr. Man that Mr. Hefner no longer sits around all day in his pajamas and bathrobe because he needs to be ready at a moment’s notice to fuck a smokin’-hot babe, but because sitting around all day in your pajamas and bathrobe is just what you do when you’re 187 years old.

But, of course, as Bill Maher knows how to say with much better fake sincerity than I, I kid Mr. Man. I have every confidence that he really will be with us many years hence. That’s because, as he has helpfully informed us, he has a pacemaker but no need whatsoever for a motorized tricycle. I am, however, inviting Mr. Man to lunch in my home, where absolutely no effort will be made to point out that he’s standing too close to the microwave.

And, in what passes here in Hollywood for truth, Mr. Man has announced a strategic relationship with Archie Comics, for whom he will be writing Just Imagine Stan The Man Asking You To Believe He Actually Wrote This Comic Book Himself About What It Would’ve Been Like If He’d Created That Really Swell, Groovy Homo Kid We Came Up With That’s Putting Us Out Of Business Because It’s Pissing Off All Those Loudmouthed Jesus People Who For Some Reason Are Still Under The Impression That They Can Buy “Age-appropriate” Comic Books At Wal*Mart.

I, for one, am looking forward to chatting Mr. Man up about that book. I may be totally off-base on this, because I haven’t actually seen Mr. Man in the 20 years since the announcement, but I think Archie is a perfectly natural “fit” for him because, at least at that time, the back of Mr. Man’s head was orange, too.

Now, as we come to the conclusion of what I know all you reverential fanboys, with your keenly developed senses of humor, will have understood was meant as Just Jokes rather than the gratuitous and mean-spirited rant you, you hero-worshiping little cretins, you, mistook it for … I leave you with just these humble thoughts:

Apparently, here in The City On The Edge of Forgetaboutit, the way you fight ageism is by making fun of people who are even older than you are. If you can find any.

And so it is that I whistle past Forest Lawn and rage, rage against the dying of the light from my smartphone.

OK, so I’m a little cranky, too.

Some asshole just totaled my motorized tricycle, trying to park it at 120 mph because he thinks he’s Batman.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman