Spider-Man is returning to back his roots. An award-winning comic book writer and TV producer, Jeph Loeb spent years working on hit shows such as Smallville, LOST, and Heroes before taking over as Marvel’s head of television. Loeb spoke to BuzzFeed on the phone about what to expect from Season Two of Marvel’s new take on the web-slinger and why you should be watching.
1. Agent Phil Coulson.
BuzzFeed: Is the Avengers movie universe the traditional Marvel world, or is it the alternate reality seen in the Ultimate series?
Jeph Loeb: The idea was to try and capture the spirit of Marvel and to make sure what we were doing was in line with what we refer to as Marvel’s DNA. It really just comes down to “Does it feel like Marvel?” which is epic story-telling about the human spirit. Clark Gregg, who is amazing, is actually playing Agent Coulson on the show.
2. The humor.
BF: The show is very fourth wall breaking. Almost a Deadpool-lite vibe?
Loeb: Humor has always been a big part of Spider-Man. When we started talking about doing Ultimate Spider-Man we were talking about the best ways to capture humor in an animated show. We thought the audience is already so like Peter, why don’t we just really be Peter and break that fourth wall and let him talk to us and take us inside his head and his fantasies?
3. The team.
(L to R: Agent Coulson, Danny Rand/Iron Fist, Luke Cage/Powerman, Sam Alexander/Nova, Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Ava Ayala/White Tiger)
BF: How did you decide who would round out Spider-Man’s S.H.I.E.L.D. team?
Loeb: Keep in mind this project started almost three years ago and at the time we were looking forward to who might be the next big characters, the next big franchises. Just like we just announced Guardians of the Galaxy, we are certainly looking at the Heroes for Hire franchise which is Luke Cage and Iron Fist and Nova is very important to us; he happens to have a new comic book series starting in February which is oddly enough written by me. And White Tiger is, again, a character we just saw real possibility with. And of course each character had to have a unique voice and have their power sets to complement each other. The costumes need to be distinct enough from each other so you recognize them even in motion. We wanted a superteam that kids and families could look at and look up to, relate to.
4. The lack of (teen) romance.
BF: Early on in Season One you let us know Mary Jane and Peter were just friends in a flashback, the same way you, blessedly, just showed Peter obtaining his powers and Uncle Ben’s death. Is that going to stay the same?
Loeb: Our show lives in a world that is pre-romance. Stan Lee once referred to Spider-Man as a soap opera where a fight breaks out every now and then. We really felt like that element had been done and it was so much a part of the movies. We wanted something more action-adventure and humor based. So all the male/female relationships show our audience that girls and boys can be friends. It doesn’t always have to evolve into a romance. We’re not opposed to romance though obviously, with Principal Agent Coulson and Aunt May, but that came more out of what could be ickier than your principal dating your “mom”?
5. Coulson is dating Aunt May.
BF: So does Aunt May play cello?
Loeb: You never know.
6. Doctor Octopus. Calculated. Evil. Unhinged.
BF: Doctor Octopus has been crazy integral to the origins of many characters in this universe, from creating Venom to the Green Goblin.
Loeb: Some of that came from the comics. But we really wanted to explore the relationship between Otto Octavius and Norman Osbourne. Season One really was about the rise and fall of Norman Osbourne. I can tell you Ock will be back in Season Two as one of the big bads. One of the things that really has us excited about this season is we didn’t use a lot of classic Spider-Man villains in Season One in order to show the audience the Marvel universe has all kinds of things in it. But from the very first arc this time around audiences will see some classic Spider-Man villains: the Lizard, the Rhino, Kraven. All building towards an all-new Sinister Six.
7. Unconventional villains.
BF: You said Season One has non-classic Spidey villains like Doctor Doom. Will we get to meet the Fantastic Four this year?
Loeb: Ben Grimm (the Thing) has a terrific play coming up in Season Two. We have a large cast to begin with so it’s always a challenge trying to integrate another large cast but we will be stopping by the Baxter building.
8. The realistically dumb teen antics.
BF: It was interesting to see you guys incorporated social media. Nova in particular is obsessed with taking embarrassing pictures and video of Spider-Man on his phone for the Internet. Do superheroes use Facebook?
Loeb: That’s a good question and it may or may not get them all in trouble. Sam doesn’t exactly think these things through.
9. Hulk as Hulk and nothing but Hulk
BF: Hulk is always Hulk now? Never Bruce Banner?
Loeb: We really liked the notion that in the cartoon universe Hulk is Hulk, as we like to say. While I admire Bruce’s character it really felt given the choice between an adult scientist and a big green monster, you want to see more big green monster. And towards that end, this version of Hulk has his own show later this year, Hulk And The Agents Of Smash.
BF: Anything hints you can give us about the Season Two premiere?
Loeb: Right from the start you get to meet Hawkeye which will be Peter’s first team up with him.
We’re incredibly excited about season. The one-hour premiere will be on Disney XD at 7pm EST January 21st. After that Ultimate Spider-Man moves to his normal time, Sundays at 11am EST.