Jeph Loeb Interview: The Future of Marvel Television Is One of Fear and Opportunity
Marvel’s live-action arm is a house divided. On one side, there are the films of Marvel Studios, and, on the other, sits Marvel Television. Last year about this time, most folks though Marvel Television failed where the studio succeeded, but a new Jeph Loeb interview throws doubt on such an assertion. In a wide-ranging chat with Deadline, Loeb discusses the past and, more importantly, the future of Marvel Television. Compared to each other, some view it as “less than” Marvel Studios, even when they play in the same universe. Not until Avengers: Endgame did a character who originated on television cross over to the movies: Howard Stark’s butler Edwin Jarvis. Whether rumors of bad blood between Kevin Feige and Jeph Loeb are true or false, the realities of television production is why the TV side doesn’t always gel so well with the movies.
Due to secrecy and long lead times on the feature films, dozens of episodes of television can be produced in the time it takes to release a film. When there is synergy, such as when the events of The Winter Soldier movie upended the first season of Agents of SHIELD, the shows always adapt beautifully. Whether the Marvel Studios side respects what Marvel TV does or not, the fans do. Despite the flaws in some of the Netflix shows, particularly Iron Fist, fans appreciate what they pulled off. They showed off the Marvel Method of building franchises.
From the Jeph Loeb interview:
“Yes, but a lot of times the reason why Marvel lands on a platform is because of the people. When they get it, when they want us…. So, in the end, however history’s going to remember the story, all that’s important to us is that we had an opportunity to change television by putting together four heroes, who then joined together in a group, and people have talked about it like this is unprecedented.
“Now, we’re going to do it again with the animated series, and then we’re going to do it again with the fear-based series. It’s now become, for us, our model. We would rather try to find ways of putting together a group of characters so that when a platform meets with us to talk about what we want to do, we’re trying to create a family on that platform.”
From The Defenders to the Offenders
Image via Marvel Television
The first mini-universe to launch will be a number of adult animation series on Hulu. Patton Oswalt, who worked with Marvel TV on Agents of SHIELD, will produce and voice M.O.D.O.K. This character, a giant head stuffed into a robot body known as a Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing. Developed by A.I.M., the bad guy group in Iron Man 3, the series will follow its adventures. After this show, Josh Gordon and Will Speck will debut a series focused on Hit-Monkey, an ape that’s trained to be an assassin who takes out other assassins. (Comic book stories!) This character appeared in its own digital comic and then an arc in Deadpool featuring Spider-Man. Definitely a lesser-known and sillier character, this series presents the greatest risk.
Along with these two shows, Chelsea Handler and Erica Rivinoja will voice Tigra and Dazzler, respectively, for a series described in the Jeph Loeb interview as Marvel’s Laverne and Shirley. Finally, Kevin Smith and Dave Willis will bring to life, er animation, Howard the Duck. The star of Lucasfilm’s worst movie, Howard the Duck appeared in the MCU with the Collector and during the battle against Thanos in Endgame. The foul-mouthed expert in quack-fu will lead his own stories once again. Eventually, all four of these shows will unite for a series called “The Offenders.” This is a pretty good gag since it refers both to the Netflix team-up, and these shows are not for those with easily offended sensibilities.
Marvel’s Adventure Into Fear
The other major project outlined in the Jeph Loeb interview involves Marvel’s descent into terror. At the MCU Phase 4 announcement, Feige revealed that the Doctor Strange sequel will be a horror film. Thus, Loeb planned an entire mini-universe around Marvel’s scariest. Hulu does well with horror, so Loeb decided to put these shows on there. First, Gabriel Luna will reprise his role as Ghost Rider. Though the story stands alone from the character’s adventures on Agents of SHIELD. Helstrom, a series about the children of a serial killer who use what they know to hunt down other murderers. They are also half-demons. Loeb then teased other shows yet to be announced that will also culminate in a team-up series.
From the Jeph Loeb interview:
“, it’s terror, because when you say horror, it means so many different things. There’s everything from Saw, which is the last thing that we want to do, gore-fest kind of thing to there’s a monster running around. What we love is the notion of how we can present a Marvel hero who was truly feared and truly believed that they were a monster, but that, as the stories go on, they realize, oh, I’m the hero of the story, I’m not the villain of the story. That’s not something we’ve ever done before.”
The Other Marvel Television Series
Image via Marvel Studios
With both Legion over and Agents of SHIELD coming to a close, this is a good time for Marvel Television to announce new projects. After the Netflix series all ended suddenly, Loeb said it “blindsided” the company the way the streaming giant handled it. He says those stories “weren’t finished yet,” which suggests they might be able to bring those heroes back. He also teased collaborations with Disney+ unrelated to the Marvel Studios series announced at Comic-Con. Perhaps this is where the “Marvel Knights,” as he calls them, come back once again. He also suggested other characters in that same “family,” will appear somewhere soon. Though the subject came up in the Jeph Loeb interview, he was unwilling to talk about the discussions for a new female-led series on the ABC Network.
Not as large in scope as some of the other Marvel television projects. Cloak and Dagger, whose series’ own future remains uncertain, will crossover with Marvel’s The Runaways on Hulu. The characters showed up in the original comics, so that the two young-adult Marvel series get to crossover is only fitting. These projects highlight what’s great about Marvel. You don’t just get a character like Alfred Pennyworth or Swamp Thing, but you (possibly) have access to the entire Marvel Universe. Fans enjoy team-ups, which cross-promote the series. It also suggests to fans that by watching Marvel TV shows, they are a part of something bigger. At least, that’s what Jeph Loeb hopes they believe.
Featured image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.