Marc Guggenheim talks new comic series, the addition of John Constantine on Arrow
Marc Guggenheim is a busy man. Even though both of his hands are in the pies of all three CW/DC Entertainment shows (Arrow, The Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), he’s found the time to write a new comic book series, The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum, a sci-fi odyssey about a maverick hyper-genius blessed with the “curse” of infinite intelligence. We spoke with Guggenheim about the upcoming series, which he says he’s been working on for over fifteen years.
“I’ve actually been developing this idea for about 15 years. This was a notion that I first sort of had when I moved out to Los Angeles. I was just really musing on stuff and kicking around different ideas. This was before I really even broke into comics. I didn’t originally know it would be a comic book, I was just thinking in terms of the character… I’m heavily influenced by Aaron Sokrin, David Mamet – for me that rhythm, I break it out every now and again. I don’t bring that to every project I work on, but with Jonas it felt right. I wanted a heightened dialogue to go along with the heightened ideas and heightened visuals. The whole book is designed to be that really big, bombastic silver age/bronze age kind of comic book. So it just felt like going crazy with the dialogue, this general theme of going crazy with the ideas. It’s always fun to write in that Sorkin-esque rhythm when I allow myself to.”
Guggenheim went on to talk about the blend of the comic’s heightened dialogue, which melds a snappy Sorkin quality with gigantic science fiction elements, a combination he came to think about while working on 2011’s Green Lantern.
“I think I just started thinking about that quite frankly when we were working on the ‘Green Lantern’ movie. The studio naturally wanted to bring in a closer, someone to do a polish and for like a five-second period I think someone had thrown out the idea of Aaron Sorkin re-writing it. I had so much fun with that idea I actually took one of our scenes and rewrote it as if Aaron Sorkin was approaching it, and I really think that was where the seed got planted in my head. I also have such a love of sci-fi and a love of Aaron Sorkin’s writing that maybe I’m just wishing that at some point Sorkin will tackle genre, because it would be like a Reese’s peanut butter cup for me. Two great tastes that taste great together, maybe. So until that happens I’m going to do my best to ape that style.”
The comic takes an alternate approach to its world saving hero as well, giving the reader vague hints about the population’s opinion of Jonas Quantum, a quality that Guggenheim strived for when writing the series.
“That’s something that was really intentional on my part and no one really has picked up on it. It really was a desire on my part to stay away from the traditional exposition. When you have this kind of character, I guess you do expect to see him with the President or on a talk show or something and from the very beginning when Freddie and I were talking about the character, we talked about ‘What is his impact on the world?’ That was a big part of our early conversations, and it’s something Freddie (Williams II, the artist) really pushed me to think about. The more I thought about it, the more I thought what would be most interesting was if we slowly discovered that, that it wasn’t all just handed to the reader from the beginning and in many ways that’s sort of my approach to the whole book….What takes center stage in the series is the adventure, and it’s only through the lens of the adventure that you start to get these glimpses into his character rather than taking the traditional approach from starting with “Okay here’s the character, here’s everything you need to know about him, and now you’ll go on this adventure.” It was an exercise in how do I subtly hint at these things?”
We also spoke with Guggenheim about the upcoming fourth season of Arrow, which will see Matt Ryan appear as John Constantine, following the cancellation of that series on NBC earlier this year.
“When you see him in the show, honestly it feels like we’re doing a Constantine/Arrow crossover, and it’s so exciting… We’re just really glad we got the chance to extend Matt Ryan’s run as Constantine by at least one more hour of television. I think you’ll see he fits very neatly into our universe. It never feels forced, it feels right. Stephen’s on screen vibe with Matt is just very natural, it’s as if these guys had been working together forever. I think people are really going to love the episode. John Badham (‘WarGames,’ ‘Saturday Night Fever’) directed it and it was just a happy circumstance, but John had also directed an episode of Constantine. It all works and it works really effortlessly. It worked effortlessly with a lot of effort I should say. I can’t wait for people to see that episode, if you thought it was a thrill just to see that one shot of Matt in the trailer wait til you see a whole episode with him.”
The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum #1 will debut Wednesday, September 16. You can check out the one shot so far of Constantine on Arrow in the Season 4 trailer below.