Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel Television and writer of “Avengers: X-Sanction”, presented the full slate of Marvel Television’s current and upcoming projects Saturday afternoon at New York Comic Con. Before his presentation began, Loeb gave a shout out to “Amazing Spider-Man” writer Dan Slott and editor Steve Wacker, who were sitting in the audience, crediting them with the recent surge in “Amazing Spider-Man” sales.
“If you see rumors online, if you hear about things, if you don’t see my name attached to it, you just gotta assume that those rumors are things we are not ready to talk about,” said Loeb as he moved on to the topic of the afternoon. “Anything we do today, you’ll know is for reals.”
He reiterated by saying what they do at Marvel Television and Marvel Studios is special and all their projects are worth the years’ long wait between shows and movies. He knocked Marvel comic projects other studios have pushed out quicker, specifically naming “Daredevil” as a movie that did not do the property justice.
Loeb first talked about “A.K.A. Jessica Jones,” which will air on ABC. The show is based on Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos’ “Alias” series about a former super-heroine who becomes a private investigator. “Obviously we can’t call the show ‘Alias.’ Thanks J.J. [Abrams!]”
“A.K.A.” will feature two other major Marvel characters — Carol Danvers and Luke Cage — better known as Ms. Marvel and Power Man, respectively. Loeb didn’t comment whether Luke Cage’s role in this show will affect the chances of him getting a solo feature film.
Up next was the previously announced “Hulk” TV show. Loeb hinted right off the bat that the writer/producer would be Guillermo del Toro, stopping short at naming him directly, instead offering, “You don’t have to look very hard because he’s online every day talking about it. He’s done things with big huge monsters and does them very well, but I can’t comment on that either way in terms of what’s going on.”
The show will feature the same Hulk fans saw recently in “The Avengers” trailer, but will most likely have the graphics scaled down to fit a TV budget.
Loeb next announced that the upcoming live-action “Cloak & Dagger” series on ABC Family would be set in post-Katrina New Orleans. This differs from the comic books, which are largely set in New York City.
The other upcoming ABC Family live-action show is “Mockingbird,” the long time Avenger and wife of Hawkeye. For the TV show, she will be a freshman at a northern California college who is contacted by S.H.I.E.L.D. to become an operative. “By day [she] will be a student, and by night, [she] will be somebody that’s learning the world of a secret agent.”
The concept behind the show was trying to mix “Felicity” and “Alias” together, both of which were created by J.J. Abrams.
Next, the conversation turned to Marvel Television’s animated projects. Marvel Knights Animation, the division that creates Marvel’s motion comics, will now take on the second half of Joss Whedon’s “Astonishing X-Men” run. The complete set of the current motion comics will be released in a 5-DVD box-set on November 22, including “Iron Man: Extremis,” “Thor/Loki: Blood Brothers,” “Black Panther,” “Astonishing X-Men” and “Spider-Woman.”
A sizzle reel of the upcoming Disney XD show “Ultimate Spider-Man” was shown to the crowd, highlighting storytelling techniques new to the Spider-Man universe including Peter Parker breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience, using cut-away gags and even having visual jokes like turning Spider-Man in to a toaster in mid-battle when a villain tells him “he’s toast.”
The “Ultimate Spider-Man” pilot is written by Paul Dini, with future episodes scripted by fellow comic book writers Joe Kelly, Joe Casey and Brian Michael Bendis, among others.
Clark Gregg will reprise his movie role as Agent Coulson in the show, Chi McBride will voice Nick Fury and JK Simmons makes a triumphant return as the voice of J. Jonah Jameson, a role he made famous in Sony’s “Spider-Man” films. The announcement of Simmons’ name, in particular, drew an immense cheer from the crowd.
Loeb announced that Stan Lee would have a recurring role as Stan the Janitor, an announcement that also drew massive cheers from the packed room.
Clark Gregg, who plays Agent Coulson in “Iron Man,” “Thor” and every other Marvel Studios movie including “The Avengers,” emerged from behind the stage while Loeb was talking. The crowd rose and gave Gregg a standing ovation.
“As a New Yorker and a comic book lover, I could pretty much die after that, so thank you!” exclaimed Gregg at the love the audience was showing him.
Gregg revealed he was originally only meant to have a cameo appearance in the end of “Iron Man,” but before he knew it, the character grew to have multiple appearances across the breadth of the Marvel movie universe. Fans and the studio reacted so well to him that before he knew it, he was one of the lynchpins of the Marvel movies.
“I was doing a scene in ‘Iron Man 2’ and they said, ‘You’re going to go to New Mexico.’ I said, ‘What’s in New Mexico?’ and they said, ‘Oh, you’re in ‘Thor,’ did nobody tell you that?'” recalled Gregg.
Gregg’s role in “The Avengers” also came as a surprise. He wasn’t going to be in it until Joss Whedon himself cornered Gregg immediately before the legendary “The Avengers” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Whedon pitched him his role on the spot and Gregg leapt at the chance.
Speaking on “Ultimate Spider-Man,” Gregg said, “Perhaps the funnest call I’ve got, as a geek, was to come down and say, ‘Someone’s gotta play Agent Coulson, so it damn well better be me!'”
Gregg indulged the audience with a brief Q&A when technical difficulties forced Loeb to halt his presentation for a few minutes.
“Does anyone have any questions? I’m sorry I can’t answer any of them!” joked Gregg, referring to the media black-out on most details of “The Avengers.”
“Someone’s making these awesome ‘Be Calm, Call Coulson’ t-shirts, which is great because nobody who knows me thinks of me as calm. Luckily it’s in the scripts!” He did hint that he might be forced to lose his cool due to events in “The Avengers.”
Asked if he had the role of “geek icon” in mind from the time he first accepted his role as Agent Coulson, Gregg responded, “I loved me some sci-fi and I loved me some Jim Starlin comics — I dreamed of it. It seemed like two different things, my kind of high-brow pretentious desire to be ultimate high-brow thespian man and my great love of super-heroes, comic books and sci-fi. It’s only through my beautiful love affair with Marvel that I’ve been able to make that a menage.”
At this point, the audio for the projector was fixed and Loeb played a second teaser trailer for “Ultimate Spider-Man.”
Moving on, Loeb said that “Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.” will air in early 2013 and star Hulk, Red Hulk, She-Hulk, Skaar and Abomination as a team that fights earth-shattering Kirby-esque threats.
“They’ll be taking on the biggest threats in the Marvel universe, bigger than you can possible imagine,” said Loeb.
Loeb said “The Super Hero Squad Show” will return with new episodes and is going to continue playing daily, calling the show a “huge success” for Marvel.
A slide for “The Avengers” cartoon was shown with Loeb giving series writer Chris Yost credit for making the show such a success. In the second big surprise of the panel, Loeb then played the season two premiere of the cartoon to close out the panel.