Stephen Wacker and Cort Lane talk about this weekend's two-part, season two debut on Disney XD!

What’s an intergalactic team of galactic guardians to do during a brief stay on Earth? Well, if they’re the Guardians of the Galaxy, they try to steal a shrunken asteroid from the Avengers, inadvertently blast the surrounding area with a satellite laser and team up with the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to take on the High Evolutionary!

That’s how the first two episodes of the Disney XD series “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” will kick off on Saturday, March 11 at 9:00pm ET/PT on Disney XD. To get an early look at what to expect from “Stayin’ Alive,” “Evolution Rock” and the rest of the season we spoke with Senior Vice President, Animation and Family Entertainment Cort Lane and Vice President, Animation Stephen Wacker!

Marvel.com: This two parter features the Guardians teaming up with the Avengers to stop a series of threats. There are so many great interactions between characters like Rocket and Captain Marvel. Did those come naturally in the writing process?

Stephen Wacker: No. In the room with the writers and our story editor Marty Isenberg, we really played a lot. It took a while to get going on story because we were really playing the “what if” of how this character bounces against this one or how this character bounces against that one. I think what’s so rich about the Guardians is that every combination worked in their own way. You team any of those characters up with any of the Avengers and you get something new out of it. It wasn’t a situation where we just naturally said, “Oh, we want these two obviously together.” The problem was that there was so many iterations, that choosing which one gave us the best story [was difficult].

Marvel.com: The one that really clicked in my head was between Ant-Man and Star-Lord as both having outlaw backgrounds, but trying to do the right thing now.

Stephen Wacker: It’s been a year and a half since we broke the story, but I don’t remember that one coming instantly. We sat down with Marty and Mairghread Scott, our consulting producer, as we were breaking it all. I think we realized at a certain point, “Oh this is interesting. There’s some fun here that we can dig into.” When we first started to break into it, it was not long after the Ant-Man film had come out, so we brought in that fresh perspective from the movie as well.

Marvel.com: Going back a bit, you had a great first season, but I’m sure you’re always looking at what to do next. What were some of the big themes and ideas or even stories and villains you wanted to tackle this season?

Stephen Wacker: We get challenged by our bosses, and most directly Cort, with finding the new thing or new twist. Where we ended season one was with a big Thanos battle and the team on Earth. The season starts with shorts of the team finding a little something on Earth. What we really had from Cort after such a big action story was the challenge of really finding the fun. We ended with a big dramatic story, let’s come back in. Of course, we’re going to need action in the mighty Marvel manner, but let’s find the fun of this team on Earth because who knows if we’ll ever see this again.

So, if you had one time to tell this story, let’s make it as absolutely fun and funny as possible. There’s a lot of comedy in this show that is a little harder to pull off on, say, AVENGERS where it’s the end of the world for 22 minutes every week. Finding little things like Groot in his New York City John Lennon shirt, seeing how a bunch of people in Central Park react to the ship, seeing Gamora with a Statue of Liberty hat on, those were just moments we weren’t sure we’d ever get to see again and really wanted to have fun with it.

Marvel.com: Was the idea of teaming them up with the Avengers an extension of that idea of making this trip super memorable?

Stephen Wacker: Yeah, I come from that comic book world so I want to see our characters butt heads with each other and finally find a way to work together despite their differences. The Avengers are the greatest super team of all time and the Guardians, arguably, one of the worst, so there’s a great contrast there that’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Cort Lane: I would add that the Marvel Universe works because of the connections to some extent, but also the characters are so relatable because their emotions and personalities and flaws are so human. You can connect to them even these rogues in the Guardians. Getting really interesting, relatable diverse characters to interact with each other creates great character moments which I don’t think a lot of franchises connect to the way that Marvel can. We really wanted to play off the characters with each other and we did that in a really fun. I think my favorite in it is the way Rocket and Hulk actually really get along. Their personalities are not that different. And just like you mentioned, Star-Lord and Ant-Man are sort of similar, but different. There can be conflict and comedy, but also, in the end, some camaraderie with them playing off of each other.

Marvel.com: How was it coming up with this take on The High Evolutionary and his alien-based creatures?

Stephen Wacker: That strictly came from Marty. Marty is a fan of that character. I had done several High Evolutionary stories in publishing. I find the character baffling and impossible to wrap my head around. I certainly laid down the gauntlet to our writing team that if they want to use a character like the High Evolutionary, they really had to make it so I could understand it and, by extension, an audience of kids or new viewers can understand just what this character is. He sort of rides a line between good and evil depending on perception. I was very happy where they ended up. We really had to dig into the character, from my perspective, to make him understandable to a human being.

Cort Lane: I had the opposite reaction. I love the High Evolutionary, Wundagore Mountain. He’s right though, some of these villains across Marvel history have not been as fully fleshed out as a villain like Magneto or Ultron. So, it was good to challenge the story editors to give him a clearly defined motive and personality. I think it comes across well here because I was delighted to see him in animation.

Marvel.com: Going into these episodes, I was more on Steve’s side. I got the whole scientist thing, but adding in the part about him seeing himself as an artist really made everything click for me.

Cort Lane: The best Marvel villains have a relatable motive that you can connect with them and they’re not just cartoon villains.

Stephen Wacker: Yeah, High Evolutionary thinks he’s the good guy in the story.

Marvel.com: Without giving too much away, Rocket makes off with something at the end of the episode that comic fans may recognize. How will that play into the rest of the season?

Cort Lane: Steve, what can we say?

Stephen Wacker: It will play in a very big way. Everything Rocket has, is always important. As we learned, even a robot leg that wasn’t initially needed will become very important.

Cort Lane: There’s something interesting with making Rocket a bit of a scavenger, like a lot of raccoons are. The things that he gathers and uses become important in the story, particularly the thing you’re talking about. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

Marvel.com: My note when I saw that was, “Is that HIM?”

Stephen Wacker: I think we have talked about the character publicly.

Cort Lane: Yes, we have actually. We said that he’ll be important to this season. So, yes, it is HIM.

Marvel.com: What else can you tell us about this season and the stories or characters it will hold?

Stephen Wacker: I can say there’s a lot of Nova this year. The Nova Corps and Nova himself play an important role in the season and we really dig into Sam in particular, but everything about the Nova Corps and their relationship with the Guardians. We’ll see a return of the Black Order, Cosmo. We’ve got a really fun episode around 8 or 9 called “Me and You and a Dog Named Cosmo” when we find Cosmo going undercover. There’s a lot of belief that Cosmo could be a really fun character for us to flesh out the team.

Cort Lane: There’s a story for Tana Nie which is not something you’d expect, but it makes her a really compelling character and really relatable to young people too.

Stephen Wacker: A big storyline coming up this season, that I think will have a lot of people talking, is what we’re calling The Symbiote War. That’s coming about halfway through the season, following up on our Symbiote story from season one and it takes us back to Groot’s homeworld.

We’ll see more of Quill’s sister, we’ll see Thor throughout the season. It’s important for people to know that, like with season one, there is an arc to the season. Our stories can be enjoyed individually, but we do leave the team at the end of 26 episodes in a different place than we find them in. That journey’s going to be dramatic, with some wins and some losses. It’s going to have a little good, a little bad, a little bit of both throughout it. I know Cort and I are very excited about how deep we were able to dig into the Marvel cosmic universe this season.

Cort Lane: It’s a little more exploratory, even though there is a defined arc and something to do with HIM that carries us through the end of the season, but we get to meet a lot of new races and key characters throughout the Marvel cosmic universe. Last season was more of a scavenger hunt and them on the run, this is an exploration of the Marvel Universe.

To go exploring with the Guardians check out “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” season two as it returns on Disney XD this Saturday at 9:00pm ET/PT on Disney XD! Stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest news and updates on your favorite Marvel animated series.

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The highly-anticipated series premieres exclusively on Hulu November 21!

Get ready to run! Actor Julian McMahon from “Dirk Gently,” is joining the cast of the highly-anticipated Hulu Original Series “Marvel’s Runaways” as Jonah. While his origins and ultimate intentions are unknown, McMahon will be a pivoltal player in the Runaways’ rebellion against their parents. Be sure to watch it exclusively on Hulu when it premieres on the streaming service, Tuesday, November 21!

“We’re incredibly excited to add Julian to our exceptional cast and we can’t wait to see what he brings to the world of Marvel’s Runaways,” said Executive Producers and Showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.

Every teenager thinks their parents are evil. What if you found out they actually were?  “Marvel’s Runaways” is the story of six diverse teenagers who can barely stand each other but who must unite against a common foe – their parents. The Hulu original series is based on the Marvel comics created by the award- team of Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona. The book series has won an Eisner, a Harvey and was featured as one of the Young Adult Library Services Association’s best books for young adults.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for the latest on “Marvel’s Runaways” and Marvel Television!

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Congrats to Marvel Animation on their first Emmy nomination!

Thanks to a genetically-enhanced raccoon and a Flora colossus, Marvel Animation has garnered its very first Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Animation Short Form Program.” “Marvel’s Rocket & Groot” features the voice talents Trevor Devall (“Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Johnny Test”) as Rocket and Groot is voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson (“Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Cleveland Show”).

Featuring animation by Oscar-nominated Passion Pictures, the shorts are directed by Arnaud Delord, written by Chris “Doc” Wyatt and Kevin Burke, executive produced by Cara Speller, Alan Fine, Dan Buckley, Joe Quesada, Cort Lane, and co-executive produced by Stephen Wacker and Stan Lee.

We spoke with SVP, Animation & Family Entertainment Cort Lane, as well as writers Chris “Doc” Wyatt and Kevin Burke about what makes the Emmy-nominated “Space Walk” short (above) so very special.

Marvel: This is Marvel Animation’s very first Emmy nomination, how excited were you when you found out the news?

Kevin Burke: I was in a state of denial for a bit, I was waiting for Cort to make the announcement. I was texting Doc, “Is this real, is this a misprint?”

Doc Wyatt: I checked the official Emmy website that has the nominations but I was also waiting to hear from Cort. I stalked his social media.

Cort Lane: I also checked the official Emmy website, then I congratulated the folks at Disney XD. Then it was a flurry (ed: on social media).

Kevin Burke: It’s thrilling!

Marvel: Marvel animated shows all have their own uniquely designed look—I know Skottie Young consulted on the series but the final product almost feels like a loving tribute to the style of Chuck Jones.

Kevin Burke: On the writing side, in terms of coming up with bits and gags, the material is very much inspired by that. We had 90 seconds so it wasn’t so much about big plots, it was about a setup and a payoff and some fun gags, and the Chuck Jones style is very much that as well. So we were looking for comedy in that sense, and visually it went that direction.

Cort Lane: Passion Animation in the U.K. brought in Arnaud Delord, who’s a famous French animation director—well known for the Gorillaz music videos—and in the pitch we expressed being influenced by the Skottie Young style from publishing.

Passion Animation delivered something that had that Chuck Jones looseness and comedic sensibility—which really adapted well to the Skottie Young illustration style—but then rendered it in CG so that it felt really rich. It’s hard to capture that level of expressiveness and squash-and-stretch cartoony quality in CG, so they actually gave us a little animation test which showed us what it might be like and they blew us away. Then we got Skottie Young involved in creating some ancillary characters, but a lot of the baseline stuff was what he had already done in publishing.

Marvel: Not to discount the always amazing voice acting work in Marvel animated shorts, but “Space Walk” was gorgeously done with very little dialogue. Again that’s reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons and captivating kid’s imaginations, was that the intention?

Kevin Burke: Absolutely, conceptually it was always about the visual nature of them being unable to speak. So from a pitch when we put it together it was: they’re trapped outside, they can’t say anything, they’re pulling everything they can to make it back inside the ship to survive. And so the setup was always there, in fact it was one of the easiest story pitches that we’ve ever done because that framework was there.

Then the fun part was working with the animators and Doc and I writing up gags because there’s so many different gags you can play, all visual. We got a chance to do something that we don’t do that often. In some of our other Marvel shows they’re very story driven with complex villain plots—this was just a moment in time—to play visually with music and sound, it worked out really well and we’re very proud of it.

Doc Wyatt: The director is French and he had his team with him at the story summit, we got up in front of the room and pitched the story idea and they would confer amongst one another in French for a very long time. Of all the stories that we discussed at our story summit, “Space Walk” was particularly well received.

Cort Lane: It was a strong concept from the beginning. I’ve always had a preference for Blue Danube—so I think I suggested it—and then someone said, “That’s waltz music, on their way back to the ship as they’re holding each other spinning back and forth it will look like a waltz.” Which was one of the little payoffs that we did manage to get in there.

Marvel: Fans truly love the space duo of Rocket & Groot.

Cort Lane: Everybody is so pleased with how these came out, they work so well as a duo. And it’s not just because they’re both funny and odd, it’s because their personalities are so distinct and opposites attract in a wonderful way. Rocket is such a strong personality but he needs Groot’s heart to get him to do the right thing a lot of the time.

Kevin Burke: On the writing side it is some of the most fun stuff we’ve ever written and most of that comes from these characters. As Cort said, Rocket is sarcastic and a big character and Groot has heart, but at the end of it, the whole thing has heart to it. It isn’t just about gags and doing the most funny, outrageous thing, these guys actually care about each other and there’s a friendship there and that helps move along any adventure they go on. I think people really relate to that.

Marvel: It’s inevitable to ask about Easter Eggs in these shorts.

Doc Wyatt: In the “Space Walk” short in particular, no. But there are a couple of…the answer is yes, but we’re not going to give them away!

Marvel: How amazing would it be if Groot was to give an Emmy speech?

Doc Wyatt: He wouldn’t need the teleprompter!

Cort Lane: I think it would be more awesome if Rocket did one because he would just yell at everyone!

Emmy voting is now open. Cast your vote for “Marvel’s Rocket & Groot” short between now and August 28! Stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest news and updates on all of your favorite Marvel animated series.

 

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Plus, go behind-the-scenes of 'Marvel's Spider-Man' with Patton Oswalt!

Marvelites, the highly-anticipated new series “Marvel’s Spider-Man” debuts with a one-hour premiere this Saturday at 7:00 AM EDT on Disney XD, and on the Disney XD App and VOD (12:01 AM EDT)!

In the new animated series, we will see a fresh take on Spider-Man, as Peter Parker is learning the responsibility that comes along with being a new, super powered hero in New York City, just as he’s being accepted into Horizon High, a high school for brilliant young scientific minds. He struggles with the duality of his social life at school and hiding his secret identity from everyone. The cast of “Marvel’s Spider-Man” takes the audience through the new series – its storylines, themes, prevalent relationships, and more in the featurette above. Hear from Robbie Daymond (Spider-Man), Max Mittleman (Harry Osborn), Nadji Jeter (Miles Morales), Melanie Minichino (Anya Corazon), Fred Tatasciore (Max Modell), Laura Bailey (Gwen Stacy).

That’s not all! Marvel executives Cort Lane and Joe Quesada talk about why Patton Oswalt is perfect for the part for Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben. Take a look at the video below, as we also hear from Patton what the role meant to him.

“Marvel’s Spider-Man” will debut with a one-hour premiere on Saturday, August 9th (7:00-8:00 AM EDT), on Disney XD, and on the Disney XD App and VOD (12:01 AM EDT). Stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest news and updates on all of your favorite Marvel animated series.

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Take a look at Tennant on the 'Marvel's Jessica Jones' set with Krysten Ritter!

As seen in the “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” Season 2 set photo above, Kilgrave, played by David Tennant, will appear to torment Jessica Jones, played by Krysten Ritter, once more. In what capacity, you’ll just have to wait and see!

In need of a refresher of the super powered private investigator Jessica Jones and the mind-controlling villain Kilgrave, all 13-episodes of the first season of “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” are now streaming on Netflix.

“Marvel’s Jessica Jones” is Executive Produced by Melissa Rosenberg (“Twilight,” “Dexter”) and Raelle Tucker (“The Returned,” “True Blood”), along with Jeph Loeb (“Marvel’s Punisher,” “Marvel’s The Defenders”), and Jim Chory (“Marvel’s Punisher,” “Marvel’s The Defenders”).

Keep your eyes right here on Marvel.com, follow @JessicaJones on Twitter and like “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” on Facebook for all the latest news and updates.

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Grab a refresher on the incredible Inhuman canine companion!

Coming soon to IMAX and ABC, Marvel’s Inhumans will see the live-action on-screen debut of Lockjaw—the Marvel Universe’s favorite four-legged Royal companion. In preparation for the new series, here’s a quick primer on who Lockjaw is.

Standing over five feet tall and weighing in at half a ton, the giant pup made his debut nearly six decades ago in 1965’s FANTASTIC FOUR #45. Crafted by legendary duo Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the issue also saw the first appearance of fellow Inhumans Black Bolt, Karnak, Triton, and Crystal.

Fantastic Four (1961) #45

Fantastic Four (1961) #45

  • Published: December 10, 1965
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 06, 2009
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Born on the island of Attilian, contact with the Terrigen Mist endowed the K-9 with a few superhuman (or superdoggie) skills—most uniquely, the ability to teleport himself and others across dimensions.

In the comics, Lockjaw’s capacity to leap across dimensional space allows him to serve as the Inhuman Royal family’s escort and usual mode of transportation; when Lockjaw engages this power, all those standing in close proximity to, or touching, the Inhuman hound are transported alongside him. In addition to teleportation, Lockjaw has the ability to track scents across dimensions by utilizing both an incredible sense of smell—and a mysterious understanding of psionics. Much like the Inhuman King Black Bolt, Lockjaw has two antennae atop his head that he uses to channel and control these powers.

So, who is Lockjaw? He’s a giant teleporting dog. And he’s an Inhuman’s best friend.

Join Lockjaw and his companions with Marvel’s Inhumans, coming to IMAX screens on September 1 and to ABC on September 29!

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Find out who will star in the upcoming adventure for Freeform!

The stars have aligned with “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” for Freeform!

Former Disney Channel star and Hollywood Records recording artist Olivia Holt and Aubrey Joseph (“The Night Of,” “Run All Night”) will star as Tandy Bowen, a.k.a. Dagger, and Tyrone Johnson, a.k.a. Cloak!

“The characters of Tandy and Tyrone have always stood out to me ever since I first met them in the pages of Marvel comics when I was a boy. When Olivia and Aubrey read for the roles, these characters leapt off the page.  We’re so excited to see what these talented young actors bring to the Marvel Universe,” said showrunner and Executive Producer Joe Pokaski.

“Marvel is delighted to have found our Cloak and Dagger. Olivia Holt and Aubrey Joseph encompass the true essence of the characters and we are excited for the audience to see them in these roles,” said Jeph Loeb, Head of Marvel Television and Executive Producer.

“Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” is a coming-of-age series based on the beloved Marvel characters.  Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson come from starkly different backgrounds, each growing up with a secret they never dared share with another soul.

Once a privileged little girl, Tandy Bowen watched as her family was destroyed by a disastrous storm that uprooted her life. Now in her late teens, an unexpected encounter with a boy named Tyrone sparks a life changing event.

Young Tyrone Johnson wanted nothing more than to prove he was fearless. But when everything he held close was taken away, life taught Tyrone to be afraid. Now older and more sheltered, Tyrone closes himself off. But when he meets a girl named Tandy his life changes forever.

“Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” is produced by Marvel Television and ABC Signature Studios.

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Watch brand new episodes of 'Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy' this weekend on Disney XD!

This weekend on Disney XD, the Guardians learn Drax’s childhood and his path as the Destroyer on his home planet. However, Xeron, the new Destroyer in Drax’s absence, seeks to destroy Adam Warlock. Drax’s homecoming turns into an all-out brawl to protect his new friend on a brand new episode of “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.” Check out a new clip above!

Tune in to brand-new episodes of “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” this Saturday beginning at 11:30 AM ET on Disney XD! Stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest news and updates on your favorite Marvel animated series.

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Don't mess with the Queen.

The Inhuman Queen gives her brother-in-law a stern warning with the very first clip from “Marvel’s Inhumans”!

When Maximus tries to make a play for the Inhuman throne, he quickly learns that Medusa will not tolerate his antics…though whether or not that will dissuade him, you’ll have to wait and see.

Check out the full clip above, and don’t miss the first chapter of “Marvel’s Inhumans” in IMAX theatres September 1, followed by the entire series on ABC beginning September 29!

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See 'Marvel's The Defenders' when it debuts only on Netflix August 18!

New York City’s street level heroes teamed up once more for the premiere of “Marvel’s The Defenders” in NYC last night. Take a look at Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Finn Jones (Iron Fist), Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and the rest of the cast and crew in the gallery above.

While you wait for August 18 to roll around, keep your eyes on @TheDefenders on Twitter and the official Defenders Facebook page for more!

Photography by Nicole Ciaramella.

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