These days there are many great superheroes who rise through television programs. Robert Kirkman is the latest to join the discussion and bring another of his popular comic series to television Invincible, which debuts on Amazon Prime later this week. A coming-of-age story meets a classic superhero story. This new animated adventure has all of the twists and turns and hectic pace we’ve come to expect from Kirkman’s episodic programs.
During a press briefing earlier this month, Kirkman – along with cast members Steven Yeun, JK Simmons, Zazie Beetz, and Gillian Jacobs – spoke to journalists about the upcoming series, what it’s like to repeat your teenage years, the father-son dynamic, and more.
Invincible follows Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), a seemingly boring 17-year-old kid. That is, until he finally inherits larger-than-life superpowers from his mega-cool father Nolan (JK Simmons), who is also known by his heroic name Omni Man. As soon as he discovers his powers, the series (a brutal one) Find Nemo meets Ironman, as father and son learn to grow together and live together as heroes. And it’s not just these two who run away and sink blows; Two entire associations fight villains in the series, one of which is made up entirely of naughty teenagers. The more heroes the better, right?
Kirkman is no stranger to adapting his own comics. He has been tailoring his post-apocalyptic for over 10 years Living Dead Book series for a hit zombie show on AMC (Invincible also contains more than a few crossover actors). He learned from experience how to breathe life into his cartoon characters, and that’s what he’s brought to this new series. “Although a lot of the same things will happen, they will happen in a very different way,” said Kirkman. “You will be surprised that we’re doing something so soon, or you will be surprised that nothing has happened because it was happening in the comic series at that point. The opportunity to play with all this stuff and to give new energy to this story, which I told before and which I worked on for many, many years, in comic form, makes the project infinitely more exciting for me. “
And get excited Invincible does. While it’s animated (which it always should be, says Kirkman, despite working with Universal on the development of a live-action feature film), there’s plenty of violence and action to entertain both fans of the comic and those who like are unfamiliar with the characters like. “I wasn’t fully prepared for this,” said JK Simmons, speaking of the brutal action on the show. “It’s intense. For me one of the aspects is – that may not be entirely unique to Invincible, but I found that surprising and unusual – it was the true feeling for the use and the consequences of violence. ”
Invincible balances wild combat sequences with the actual logistics of these highly dangerous, orchestrated circumstances: These heroes exercise their powers aggressively, of course, but they also have complex systems to evacuate areas and operate damage control. In addition, they count on their status as icons in society and understand what it means to “save” people. It’s a topic that newer superhero series and films (especially WandaVision): What if we can’t really trust those with superhuman abilities who were greatHeroes in the past?
“I like that we go past superheroes to save people, but to actually speak about our reality through these characters,” said Steven Yeun. “They have immense power in their world. There are things about this power and how it is used and the destruction and the things that arise as a result of those things. I like that we are in a time where we can talk about it and show it that way. “
This aspect is particularly forward-looking in the father-son dynamic portrayed between Nolan and Mark. Our parents can be our harshest critics, but they can also lie to us, manipulate us, completely turn our entire worldview around. Simmons – whose children were both teenagers when we were filming it – told us, “The father-son thing was definitely part of what attracted me to doing this in the first place. That aspect, and the fact that it was really well-written, made it just accessible to me and something I felt connected to. ”So he committed to playing Omni Man, an incredibly complex father figure to Mark and the Society in Invincible. No spoilers, of course – but keep an eye on this guy.
Yeun recently became a father, an aspect that has helped him understand both sides of the equation Invincible. “Sometimes the path of a father-son relationship is you have to try to pin your father down,” said Yeun. “Or you have to beat him in an arm wrestling competition. Whatever it is, I think this trip is always interesting; getting out of the shadows of someone helping shape you. Just knowing what it’s like to be a son and now knowing what it’s like to be a father, the dynamics and feelings that are all interconnected in this room – that was really fun to be able to get on with to leave.”
The father-son duo had the chance to personally record their sequences together with matriarch Debbie (Sandra Oh). Those three, Kirkman explains, are the core of Invincible, an important family dynamic that dominates the rest of the super series. “When these two guys interact and work together, they’ve become pretty good buddies too,” said Kirkman of Simmons and Yeun. “Every time you see actors at their level working together, it’s great fun. Steven, as an actor, he’s someone I’ve got to know over the years who just puts every ounce of himself into every performance. You can see it in roles like its character in Minari, all the different things he’s done. I will always want to work with Steven Yeun. “
Most of the actors who voices the story have had to abstain from the show, and Yeun is one of those people. He’s not a teenager, and neither are his two co-stars, Zazie Beetz and Gillian Jacobs, who play Mark’s stupid dude energy as two female opponents. “Going back to a 17-year-old isn’t fun,” says Yeun. “But it’s also very real. In a way, it’s fun to play because there are a lot of things I might want to talk to my dad about too. To play it off this way with someone as amazing as JK. That’s the cool part: a simulated reality of this relationship is fascinating. It was great fun. And painful. ”Keyword: painful. It’s a bit difficult to watch these teenagers fight their way through their uncomfortable years, especially since they fight demons and monsters outside of high school as well.
But here, too, Mark is not alone. Atom Eve, an incredibly talented heroine with the ability to bend atoms, still suffers from the daily struggles of a teenager. “I went to high school too, but I wasn’t superpowed,” said Jacobs. “I feel like these questions are pervasive when you finish high school: Who will I be as an adult? What am i doing with my life I definitely sensed that, and this character deals with it too. But I didn’t have to worry about trying to save the earth regularly in high school. ”Being a teenager is a core aspect of the show: Invincible is both a coming-of-age story and an action show, in which a handful of younger heroes like Eve and Mark follow on colorful journeys into adulthood and saving the world.
“It’s interesting that it’s been a decade since I was a teenager; it’s so easy to lose touch with what it is and what it means, ”said Beetz, who plays Amber, Mark’s romantic interests and one of the few teenagers on the show who has no powers. “My brother is 14 and it was very special to watch him grow up. We often say, ‘Youngsters are bad and mean.’ Really, they are not. Many of them are just confused and actually wonderful people. I think it’s nice.”
Invincible rides the wave of self-doubt, skepticism about the future, and the misunderstood nature of being a teenager. Combine that with some hearty, hilarious fight sequences, lots of drama, and a father-son dynamic like no other, and you have one hell of a funny animated superhero series. “I’ve calmed down a bit in old age where I’m not constantly trying to cross the line,” said Kirkman Invincible back to the original source material. “I still want to pay tribute to the fans who have supported this comic for many years by bringing them what they expect – and at the same time twisting it so that it stays as exciting as it needs to be.”
The first three episodes of Invincible will be available to stream on March 26th on Amazon Prime Video. New episodes are published weekly on Fridays.
Fletcher Peters is a New York based journalist whose articles appeared in Decision maker, Jezebel, and Rejections from film schools, among other things. You can follow her on Twitter @fietcherpeters Gossip about rom-coms, TV and the latest celebrity drama.
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