While D23 made headlines on the first day of the convention, the Marvel Animation panel also made a big splash. Marvel Animation & Family Entertainment’s Senior Vice President Cort Lane moderated the panel that featured voice actors Kathreen Khavari and Ben Pronsky, as well as Story Leads/Producers Kevin Burke and Chris “Doc” Wyatt. During the presentation, the panel shared new info about season two of Marvel’s Spider-Man, and its season 3 follow up, Maximum Venom.
To kick things off, fans were treated to a clip from an upcoming episode Marvel’s Spider-Man. In the video, the Superior Spider-Man faces off against the Avengers on a rooftop. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have grown suspicious about Spidey’s new motivations, and a neat action sequence played out as Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, and others tried to outwit this new version of Spider-Man.
The animated storyline will be similar to the Superior Spider-Man comic arc, where Doctor Octopus took over Spider-Man’s body. This time, Peter’s mind is trapped inside the robot called The Living Brain. Wyatt explained the appeal of doing this story while delivering their own take on it.
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“We love writing Doc Ock because he gets to do all this grandiose stuff and has a very healthy opinion of his mental faculties,” said Wyatt. “And you know, you always get this wonderful sort of scenery chewing supervillain dialogue. But in our show, he’s much younger than in the comics and in other portrayals. So we get all this wonderful, grandiosity in sort of a teenage mad scientist body.”
“And it sort of doesn’t fit in this odd and wonderful, jarring way,” continued Wyatt. “But when you add to that, that he now is in Peter Parker’s body, it makes everything soar to the next level with him. And also he has to walk around and pretend like he’s still Peter Parker, but he’s so distant from a normal teenager that him having to pretend to be Peter Parker, because just he’s just awful at it. Being normal is really hard for Doc Ock, and that’s the fun. It’s fun to write.”
Robbie Daymond, who plays Peter Parker/Spider-Man, did an excellent job of channeling Scott Menville’s Doctor Octopus in the clip. But according to Burke, finding the right voice for the Superior Spider-Man proved to be difficult.
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“When they did the story in publishing, they didn’t have to deal with the problem of ‘what does this sound like?’,” noted Burke. “You’re just reading the text and the thought balloons that he would have as Doc Ock – as well as when he would interact with people as Peter Parker – you weren’t actually thinking about how people were reacting to what that would sound like. And we had to solve that problem.”
“What we decided to do was something that was a ton of fun, because we made it that Scott Menville, who’s our Doc Ock, was going to be the voice over – the internal thoughts and dialogue of Spider-Man,” explained Burke. “So anytime he’s thinking to himself, it’s the voice of Scott Menville. But Robbie Daymond, who’s our voice of Peter Parker, we decided not to have Scott be the voice. Not [to] have Ock’s voice come out of Peters body, but have Robbie’s voice still come out of Peter’s body. But in this case, it couldn’t just be the cadence and the way that Peter Parker talked.
So we actually did this bit it was it was a ton of fun. Scott would read a series of lines for Peter Parker in his Ock voice, just to get ramped up. Robbie would hear that, get the cadence, and then eventually find a way to be a Peter Parker, through his own voice, who had the sort of thoughts and cadences in the way that Ock speaks. So there are times where it was the most fun thing to watch in the world. Because we would do a whole scene of internal monologue, and then you would do external speaking, it’d be Robbie and Scott bouncing off of each other.”
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“But it really felt like the same character, it really felt like this was a cohesive, singular person with two different voices,” added Burke. “And there’s nothing else like that. That was something that they couldn’t do in the comic. And it’s something that this series will show in a way that we’ve never seen. They’re both talented voice actors, so to watch them play off of each other was a trip.”
Lane went on to note that the show will also find a way to explain Doctor Octopus’ twisted heroic turn once he’s in Peter’s body.
“There are more twists and turns because this is not a direct adaptation of what happened [in the] comics,” said Lane. “It is its own TV version. And so what happens is, when Ock goes into Peter Parker’s body, he actually finds some stray memories and things that Peter Parker experienced – namely his Uncle Ben experience. And this impacts Ock [in a way] he did not expect. He anticipated becoming Spider Man and just remaining evil. It was going to be this great twist to bring down his enemy.”
“But now, he is inspired to do good, which he did not see coming,” continued Lane. “He’s going to do good and be a hero in his own twisted, Ock way. He doesn’t turn into Spider-Man – at least the Peter Parker Spider-Man – and he does this in a way we don’t expect. So what he ends up doing, without giving anything away, is that he comes to a deeper understanding of how Peter Parker is the way he is. And why Spider-Man is the way he is. That’s pretty profoundly affecting on Ock moving forward. I think the story actually is incredibly compelling. It’s really about understanding somebody else’s experience.”
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“We’re not going to tell you what’s happening with Peter Parker because it’s crazy and we don’t want you to know what happens,” added Wyatt. “But for Peter, I imagined him learning more about Ock, and about why Ock is the way that he is. And what does that mean for someone who is always viewed as an arch enemy, as a rival and as an opposition force? What does that mean when you understand your rival?”
More will be revealed when Marvel’s Spider-Man season 2 returns on September 8. In the meantime, the panel looked ahead to the third season, which will take on the Maximum Venom subtitle. Lane describes this season as a “massive event” that will unite all of the Marvel shows on Disney XD. Burke also expanded on why this new season will be unique.
“Maximum Venom isn’t your standard-issue Spider-Man, this is bigger,” said Burke. “This idea of Maximum Venom – Doing a Venom centric season just begged to be bigger. So instead of being your typical weekly episode, these are six-hour-long, Spider-Man/Venom movies. That’s what this ultimately is – six specials about Spider-Man, in Spider-Man: Maximum Venom.”
Wyatt noted that the decision to broaden the scope of the series added a whole new dynamic to the writers’ room.
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“That changed everything for us,” said Wyatt. “The idea of doing this event – and doing it in six one-hour chunks – it changed the tone of the writer’s room. You get into a certain rhythm when you’re doing half-hour episodes. You put them up on the board; you’re changing your beats. But then to take this big idea of Maximum Venom and push it into this event space, it really freed up the writers room to try new ideas and to talk about ways of telling stories that we never got to do in that 26 episode format.”
Burke also revealed that the scope and scale of the project grew far beyond their initial ambition.
“Everything got to be huge,” noted Burke. “We got to the point where it was like these mini-movies. And so that has very much to do with with the content. When we were putting it together, the production crew was like, ‘how much stuff is going to happen in these episodes?’ Because it just was so massively epic. There aren’t many small villains – this is really huge. This is the biggest thing we’ve ever done. Not just in terms of content, but also in terms of how we’re delivering this.”
Maximum Venom will consist of six hour-long episodes. Lane also said that Maximum Venom will continue the story from Marvel’s Spider-Man and incorporate storylines from other Disney XD shows, such as Guardians of the Galaxy. Lane calls this “a full-on Symbiote invasion of our planet.” He also mentioned that some of the most iconic Marvel heroes will be encountering symbiotes in the story.
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The panel then showcased a series of concept artwork that features various “Venom-ized” Marvel heroes, including Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and Spider-Man himself. They also said that Spider-Man: Maximum Venom will hit Disney XD in spring 2020.
To close out the panel, Marvel Animation made a few additional announcements.
Spidey And His Amazing Friends – The first Marvel animated series aimed at preschoolers. This new series will include Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, Hulk, Miles Morales and Ghost-Spider (a.k.a. Spider-Gwen.) Further details were sparse, but you can find a sneak peek on Marvel Entertainment’s Twitter page. Spidey and his Amazing Friends will arrive on Disney Jr in 2021.
Marvel Superhero Adventures – Five new shorts will be introduced this September. One of the shorts films was screened, which features Spidey explaining how he got the Iron Spider suit from Tony Stark. The story in question involves Spider-Man traveling to space in order to help build a space station that will fend off an incoming asteroid.
Marvel Rising: Battle of the Bands – World premiere of the latest in the series about a team of teenage heroes that focuses on Ghost-Spider as she juggles life as a superhero. Battle of the Bands arrives this Wednesday, August 28.
Are you excited for Maximum Venom? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!