Choosing "Civil War II" Sides, Comics Future of Daredevil, Punisher & Elektra

Fridays on CBR mean Axel's In Charge.

Welcome to MARVEL A-I-C: AXEL-IN-CHARGE, CBR's regular interview feature with Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso!

An editor with years of experience in comics receiving both critical acclaim and best-selling status, Alonso stepped into the chair at the top of Marvel's Editorial department and since then has been working to bring his signature stylings to the entire Marvel U. Anchored by regular question and answer rounds with the denizens of the CBR Community, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!

INTERVIEW: "Daredevil" Showrunners Say "It's Hard For Matt To Be Daredevil"

With Season Two of Marvel Televison and Netflix's "Daredevil" now streaming, Alonso discusses what he likes about the show's newcomers -- Jon Bernthal as the Punisher and Elodie Yung as Elektra -- and how the acclaimed series influenced the current "Daredevil" comic book run, from writer Charles Soule and artist Ron Garney. And now that readers have been given a look at who's with Iron Man and who's with Captain Marvel in the June-debuting "Civil War II" event series from Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez, Alonso weighs in the decision-making process of establishing those rosters and teases many more surprises to come. That and more, including "International Iron Man" talk, praise for Marvel's Director, Content & Character Development Sana Amanat's introduction of President Barack Obama earlier this week at a White House event and answers to your questions, direct from the CBR Community.

Albert Ching: Axel, Marvel Television and Netflix's "Daredevil" Season Two is now here -- I know you were a big fan of the first season, as were quite a few people. How much of the second season have you gotten to see thus far?

Axel Alonso: Just the season premiere and lots of raw footage. Brace yourself: This is, by far, the best live-action Punisher you've ever seen. Jon Bernthal is perfect for the role. The dynamic between him and Daredevil is going to thrill -- and unnerve -- viewers, whether they're familiar with the dynamic between Frank and Matt, or not. They're going to really explore the razor-thin line that separates the two men.

The first season did a lot in teaching the world at large how cool of a character Daredevil is, which may not have been obvious for folks who haven't read the comics. It seems like this season looks to do something similar with the Punisher and Elektra. Do you get a sense that both of those characters might be about to take off even further?

Alonso: Without a doubt. I'd bet that both of them will be part of the fabric of the Marvel TV Universe moving forward. Elektra is also amazing. Elodie Yung is a real martial arts expert so she makes a very credible ninja. And she couldn't look more like Elektra.

In terms of how the Netflix shows are structured and paced, they feel more similar to a run of a comic book than a movie does, thus there seems to be some overlap there that could mean potential new comics readers. To what extent does Marvel talk about how best to capitalize on the popularity of these shows, and bring more viewers into the publishing product?

Alonso: Yeah, "Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones" feel a lot like a comic book experience, because of their episodic nature. Bingeing on one of those series is like blasting through a big trade paperback.

We try to take advantage of any moment that there's a national spotlight on our characters, and the fact that we're apprised of what's going on in the Netflix series in advance, gives us time to plan. That said, what makes the TV shows and movies work so well is how true to the source material they stay, so over here in publishing, we don't really need to pivot to deal with anything that happens onscreen so much as capitalize on it.

RELATED: Soule Haunts "Daredevil" with Old Foes, Flames -- and Elektra

Given that, and the already considerable pedigree of Daredevil as a comics character, how much has the Netflix "Daredevil" show shaped the way you look at the character in Marvel publishing? How much of an impact do you see from it on the current run by Charles Soule and Ron Garney?

Alonso: The Netflix series definitely factored into our decision to tap Charles Soule -- who is a working attorney himself -- to write the series, his decision to bring Matt back to New York, and the overall tone of the series, including the shadow-heavy, neo-noir approach that Ron Garney is using. There's a two-part story starting in "Daredevil" #6 which will feature Elektra and Charles is also writing the "Daredevil/Punisher" Infinite Comic that's on sale now. Both are really great and one way we wanted to lean into the extra attention of these two characters.

Looking into the new Marvel releases from this week, "International Iron Man" brought back the "Daredevil" team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev on a Marvel Universe book for the first time since "Moon Knight." What convinced you this book -- with a second Iron Man ongoing being fairly uncharted territory -- was something Marvel needed to do, and expand Iron Man in this way, with something that was clearly different than typical Iron Man adventures?

Alonso: Three Iron Man and two Avengers movies later, Iron Man is one of the most recognized and loved superheroes on the face of the Earth. So we decided to double down and shine a spotlight on him in publishing -- which is why we deployed Brian Bendis and David Marquez to do the core series, Brian and Alex Maleev to do the sister title, and positioned Tony as a central character in "Civil War II" -- though that last part was organic.

We figured if Spider-Man could anchor several solo titles, Iron Man could, too. We just needed to look at him, and his supporting cast, from different angles. "International Iron Man" is a very different read from "Invincible Iron Man." It's more about the man inside the suit. And, of course, it's heavy on the type of cloak and dagger noir espionage that Brian and Alex excel at.

RELATED: Find Out Who's with Iron Man and Who's with Captain Marvel in New "Civil War II" Teasers

Also this week, Marvel released two "Civil War II" teasers by Jim Cheung that pay off the prior Phil Noto-illustrated, character-focused ones, and appear to show, for a couple dozen characters, who is going to be on which side in the story. What was the process like in figuring those teams out? Did it happen at a creative retreat?

Alonso: Yeah, a creative retreat. And we only had one retreat to discuss "Civil War II," so the process happened quickly. To our advantage, we had a very good understanding of the core issue and why it would divide the heroes into camps, so it was really just a matter of getting everyone into the room and seeing where the individual heroes landed. Once Tom Brevoort had complied our initial list, that's when any challenges were made, and when we made sure each side had equal weight.

This is an interesting story, because the line isn't drawn in stone, it's drawn in sand. The issue our heroes are fighting over is complex, and there will be developments that will force characters -- and readers -- to reassess their position. Don't be surprised if you see some defections, as the story gets increasingly complicated.

Did that spark some fun battles within the retreat room, as to which character would be on which side?

Alonso: Usually, we argue a lot. This time, not so much. A lot of the core writers were in the room, and pretty much everyone, including [upcoming "Black Panther" writer] Ta-Nehisi Coates, who was in the room for the first time, had a very firm idea of what side their characters would be on.

Now that we have more of a picture of both sides in "Civil War II," is there any worry about giving away too much?

Alonso: There's no way we could! The issue that divides our heroes is very complex, and it speaks to the world today the same way that [the original] "Civil War" did. The story goes from the global or the universal to the specific or local. There are street-level ramifications.

Also, while [the original] "Civil War" asked one question -- how much of your freedom are you willing to give up for more security? -- "Civil War II" asks a couple of questions. It starts by asking one question -- a more universal question -- and sides form to take a position on this, but along the way, something seismic happens that poses another question -- one that's more intimate, more local -- that will challenge characters and readers to reassess their position, their alliance. I'll be curious to see how many people that declared, "I'm on Team Captain Marvel" or, "I'm on Team Iron Man," will stay on that side once they've had a chance to reflect on the complexity of the issues and the stakes.

RELATED: Marvel's Sana Amanat Introduces Barack Obama at White House Event

Moving to real-life matters, how proud were you to see Marvel's Sana Amanat at the White House introducing President Barack Obama for a Women's History Month reception -- and Obama talking about Ms. Marvel in his remarks?

Alonso: Sana was amazing. I was blown away. I don't think she had a lot of time to prep, but she absolutely nailed it. Her quote, "diversity is not a trend, it is simply life," sums up where we're coming from. And her quip, "honored to be in a room of so many powerful, brilliant, amazing women, and of course, the men who support them," was priceless.

To wrap up, C2E2 is this weekend, and I know Marvel has a lot of announcements on the way -- anything you want to tease in terms of what fans can expect for what Marvel's got planned?

Alonso: We'll start to fill in the "Civil War II" puzzle for you, at least in the opening month of the event, to get fans buzzing. I think that's going to be the talk of the show.

Let's close out with a couple of fan questions from the CBR Community. In the spirit of much of this week's discussion, OwossoHarpist asks, "Will there be a Punisher comic that's a tie-in with 'Civil War II'?"

Alonso: Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon's "Punisher" comic is just getting started so it won't tie into "Civil War II." But Frank Castle will appear in a planned "Civil War II" tie-in series.

degel02 has a similar query: "Is Emma Frost going to be part of 'Civil War II'?"

Alonso: Emma Frost doesn't have a role in "Civil War II," but with very good reason. There's a storm forming on the horizon for the X-Men that she needs to prepare for. That said, Magneto and the rest the X-Men will play a big role in the event, and they'll be deeply divided over what the power of predictive justice could mean for mutantkind -- as you'll see in "Civil War II: X-Men."

Have some questions for Marvel's AXEL-IN-CHARGE? Please visit the AXEL-IN-CHARGE Q&A thread in CBR's Marvel Comics community. It's the dedicated thread that CBR will pull questions for next week's installment of our weekly fan-supported question-and-answer column! Do it to it!

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