Interview: Jeph Loeb on Marvel's Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United
Posted November 27, 2013 12:03 AM by Webmaster
Two of the biggest Heroes from the Marvel Universe team up in Marvel's Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United, the first full-length, direct-to-video CG animated feature from Marvel Animation Studios. Featuring the voices of Adrian Pasdar (TV's "Heroes," "Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man") as Iron Man and Fred Tatasciore (TV's "Marvel's Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.," "Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man") as Hulk, this groundbreaking Marvel movie experience arrives on Blu-ray on December 3, 2013.
Official Synopsis: In this action-packed adventure, the invincible Iron Man and the incredible Hulk come together to save the Earth from its greatest threat yet! When two HYDRA scientists try to supercharge a Stark Arc Reactor with Hulk's Gamma Energy, they unleash a being of pure electricity called the Zzzax, and he's hungry for destruction. Together, Iron Man and Hulk are the only force that stands in the way of the Zzzax's planetary blackout. But first the superhero duo will have to get through snarling Wendigos, deadly robots and the scaly powerhouse, Abomination. Can two of Marvel's mightiest Heroes find a way to work together without smashing each other before time runs out?
Eric Radomski (TV's "Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man," "Batman: The Animated Series") is Supervising Creative Director of Marvel's Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United, with Leo Riley (TV's "Mad," "The Ricky Gervais Show") serving as Supervising Director. Executive Producers are Alan Fine (Marvel's The Avengers, Thor, Iron Man 2), Dan Buckley (TV's "Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man," "Marvel's Avengers Assemble," "Marvel Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.") Joe Quesada (TV's "Marvel's Avengers Assemble," "Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man") and Jeph Loeb (TV's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."). Written by Henry Gilroy (Animatrix, "Batman: The Animated Series," "Batman Beyond") and Brandon Auman (TV's "Iron Man: Armored Adventures," "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes")
Choosing Super Heroes: Developing Marvel's Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United
For the team at Marvel Animation Studios, the decision to pair Hulk and Iron Man together for the studio's first feature-length, direct-to-video adventure, was largely inspired by current fan interest. The film's Executive Producer and Marvel's Head of Television Jeph Loeb notes, "We tend to keep an eye on who folks want to see more of."
Marvel's decision to feature Iron Man followed the enormously popular appearance of the Hero in the Iron Man franchise and the blockbuster hit Marvel's The Avengers, which currently stands as the third highest grossing film in U.S. history and the number one release from Walt Disney Studios.
The Hulk's breakout role in last summer's Marvel's The Avengers provided creators with the next Marvel hero. Loeb attributes the overwhelmingly positive response to Hulk's appearance to the fact that its creators finally gave long-time Marvel fans the opportunity to see the character as "a hero, not a monster." Loeb assures fans that, with this feature-length animated release, the Marvel Animation Studios team set out to depict Hulk "with that same kind of thought and expectation."
A Smashing Duo: The Chemistry of Iron Man & Hulk
If the decision to pair these two enormously popular characters made sense on paper, the result is a smashing duo with combustible on-screen chemistry. The secret to this chemistry is, of course, the spark-inducing interactions between two heroes with nothing in common other than a shared capacity for heroism.
Loeb defines the fundamental difference between the two heroes. "Tony Stark is a man who thinks first and then acts second. He surrounds himself with technology and builds himself a suit of armor and any kind of tool and weapon that he needs. On the other side is his sort of polar opposite, and that's the Hulk, who acts first and contemplates his actions later. He believes that the best way to handle things is through smashing. We're talking about a character whose tremendous power comes from who he is without any kind of enhancements through technology," the Executive Producer says.
That's not to say that these two distinct characters don't influence each other's heroic styles during the 72-minute run time of Marvel's Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United. Loeb assures fans that, during the course of their first feature-length pairing, the two "learn a little from each other and borrow tricks from one another." Together, Hulk's brute strength and Iron Man's high-tech intellect combine to form an ultimate avenging force that's ready to take on whatever villains come their way.
Villainz with a "Z": Foiling Iron Man & Hulk
The principal antagonist is long-time Hulk enemy Zzzax. "We're very excited because this is the first time that we've been able to do an entire storyline centered around him," says Loeb. The fact that Zzzax is a being composed of energy allowed the film's creative team to hint at real world environmental and energy issues. According to the EP, "There's a little bit of a moral story that's being played out, given what's going on with our own Earth, but that's just a little fun Easter egg for people to find as they go along."
Other villains featured include the scaly green monster Abomination, a creature with twice the strength as Hulk, and the Wendigos, massive, fur-covered humanoid beasts with fangs and razor sharp claws.
Super Heroic Voices: Casting Iron Man & Hulk
To capture Iron Man's sardonic wit and Hulk's roaring power, Marvel relied on the voice talents of actors Adrian Pasdar and Fred Tatasciore. Like the choice to pair Iron Man and Hulk, the decision to cast these two long-standing members of the Marvel Animation Studios family was easy.
Loeb traces each actor's rich history bringing their respective characters to life: "Adrian Pasdar, who's been playing Iron Man since about the fifth episode of 'Ultimate Spider-Man,' is one of our regulars in the Marvel animated universe, so we're delighted to have him on board. Similarly, Fred Tatasciore, who plays Hulk, has probably played the character more than any other person who's ever played Hulk and we know that that's a role that's been around a long time, going all the way back to Bill Bixby. Fred's been our Hulk on everything from 'Ultimate Spider-Man' through 'Marvel's Avengers Assemble,' 'Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.', as well as numerous other projects that were worked on prior to Marvel Animation Studios forming in the first place."
A Marvel Animation First: Computer Generating Marvel's Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United
The production of the film marks the first time Marvel Animation Studios has completely utilized computer generated technology in order to create a superhero adventure. The use of CG animation results in a tale that brings vibrant new life to the animated Marvel Universe.
The decision to use CG technology was made after the film's Supervising Creative Director, Eric Radomski impressed his Marvel teammates with a test demonstrating the effect of combining CG technology with 2D mapping. "The test that Eric showed us was extremely promising and we green-lit it off that -- no gamma pun intended -- in order to move forward." He added, "It's exciting when we get to use a new kind of format and see where we can go. What we've learned from this first experience is going to really show up with some neat stuff in the future as well."
Something to Cheer About: Experiencing Marvel's Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United
Loeb goes one step farther, promising fans "a huge epic story with great characters and an awful lot of fun. They're two of Marvel's most popular characters going up against great villains. It's a terrific looking feature. It's not often we get to do full-length animated projects and this is a 72-minute epic that we know people will not want to rent, but own."
Loeb also hints at the possibility of a surprise at the end of the movie. "I can tell you that, as Marvel fans know, it's always worth staying until after the credits and that holds true even on this made-for-home-video!"