Monday, July 25, 2011

Comic-Con 2011: Marvel TV Development

Marvel held a presentation announcing a line of television projects currently in development. Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel TV (and noted TV and comic book writer), stressed that the following projects are strictly in development and shouldn't be considered certain until "you hear it from Marvel." Due to Disney's acquisition of Marvel a couple years ago, these shows are being groomed for various ABC and Disney networks.
Jeph Loeb

In Development

Marvel TV is developing "A.K.A. Jessica Jones" for ABC. Based on the 2001-2004 comic book series "Alias" (a name which has since been co-opted by a certain other TV series), the Jessica Jones character occupies a niche somewhere between superhero and private detective.

Also in the works for ABC is a new live-action version of "Hulk," a character who hasn't been on TV since 1982. This series will focus on the span of time just after Bruce Banner is exposed to gamma radiation, before the world learns of his horrible secret.

"Cloak and Dagger" would center on a pair of teenage runaways in post-Katrina New Orleans who are abducted and used as human test subjects by a chemist. This awakens their superpowers, which bear a striking resemblance to the Maya y Alejandro storyline on "Heroes" (of which Loeb was a staff writer).

Finally, "Mockingbird" is in development for ABC Family. This series would follow Barbara Morse, a biologist and agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who discovers corruption within the organization and is forced to flee for her life. She then makes it her personal mission to expose and eliminate the corruption in S.H.I.E.L.D., perhaps saving the world in the process.

Coming Soon

As for shows that are in production and heading to your living room soon, Marvel TV is of course moving forward with their flagship character, Spider-Man. Pulling out the big guns, the show runner for Disney XD's animated "Ultimate Spider-Man" is none other than Paul Dini (Emmy winner "Batman: The Animated Series"), the creative consultant is Brian Michael Bendis, and the writing staff is rounded out by a collective known as "Man of Action" (creators of "Ben 10" and "Generator Rex") - Joe Kelly, Joe Casey, Duncan Rouleau and Steve Seagle. "I'm extraordinarily proud of the writing talent that we've managed to bring into this," says Loeb. "It speaks to the absolute love for this character and also for Marvel animation as a whole."
Drake Bell voices Peter Parker/Spider-Man

"Marvel Animation isn't just the stuff that we're gonna be doing with XD," says Loeb. Marvel has been running an animated division to create and distribute digital content called Marvel Knights Animation. A hybrid of comic book-style art and 2-D cell animation, Knights converts existing comic book storylines and "bring[s] them to life ... in a way that we've never really seen before" on digital platforms such as iTunes and X-Box Live.

The next project for Knights is the full 25-issue run of Joss Whedon & John Cassaday's "The Astonishing X-Men," out in 2012.

Finally, Loeb announced pre-production of another animated series for Disney XD: "Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H." Spearheaded again by Dini, the series will be loaded with "as much Hulk testosterone" as possible, including Red Hulk, Skaar, A-Bomb and She-Hulk.

With the summer movie season already dominated by comic book superhero adaptations, Marvel is moving full-steam ahead to dominate television as well. These projects represent a smart strategy aimed at varying demographics which, if successful, could keep numerous Marvel properties alive at one time without over-saturating any single group of viewers.

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