‘Hulk And The Agents Of S.M.A.S.H.’ Week 8: ‘Hulks On Ice’ [Interview]
Just a few weeks away from the release of his latest movie, Thor made an appearance on Marvel’s Hulks And The Agents Of S.M.A.S.H. Any team up of the two creates an interesting dynamic for a few reasons. Aside from being one of the few characters in the Marvel Universe who potentially matches the Hulks in terms of strength, Thor is also, as an Asgardian god, pretty used to fighting with or against beings like the Hulks, not to mention the villains for this episode: the frost giants Laufey and Ymir.
We were again joined on the phone by supervising producer Cort Lane to discuss the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. teaming up with the God of Thunder, designing ice giants, and why Skaar and Thor have a lot in common.
CA: This is the Hulks on Ice episode, with Thor, and I feel like we’ve kind of discussed this one off and on for a while. Thor and the Hulks seem to get along pretty well. The team’s relationship with each character that guest stars is different. How would you compare the relationship with Thor vs. the other guest stars so far?
CL: It’s really about how Thor views Hulk. Thor appreciates Hulk, because he’s surrounded by warriors and savage creatures, and trolls and giants, and so Hulk for him is just more of the same. In Avengers Assemble they have a fun rivalry, which really came out in The Avengers film, so it’s fun for us to play that up here. Also, Thor is an outsider coming in and seeing how challenging Hulk’s relationship with Red is, and having a playful sort of great relationship with Hulk, it’s different than if you had an Iron Man or a Captain America in the situation. They have a pretty cool relationship and it’s something we just wanted to touch on that came out of the movies
CA: Obviously the frost giants play a role in the first Thor film, which makes your target audience more familiar with them. Did that play a role in choosing to use them in the show?
CL: Yeah. I thinks it’s great for kids to reference the things that they love from the film, but that also take them in new directions with new characters. Ymir in this episode is on a whole different scale with a whole different power level, so, we like to escalate the threat and the action throughout the episode. So yeah, we start with something they know, something they love, and then we go to something really far beyond.
CA: I find animated series with arctic locations interesting. It’s not the Savage Land where you’re creating this lush environment. With an arctic environment, it’s a lot of white. Can you talk about the design process in creating Laufey and Ymir and the landscapes for the episode?
CL: With Laufey and Ymir we wanted something that works great in animation. It had to be sort of bigger and more dynamic than the live action films to be exciting in animation. So we play with scale and detail on Laufey obviously, and with Ymir we got to go really big. He is very much inspired by the original Jack Kirby version—but updated for today and with the kind of illustration style that would work in animation. And as far as doing the Arctic stuff, production loves it [Laughs]. It is a million times easier than the Savage Land. But as much as they would love it if we spent all of our time in the empty sand desert or the Arctic, we are committed to exploring all of the corners of the Marvel Universe in these shows, so we’re gonna go there anyway.
But there is one cool thing about it—the sketches really pop in that one location, and it is really fun visually, so there is something wonderful about it.
CA: Especially with Red Hulk against the white background. That works well, especially with such a big focus on him in the episode. In the last interview you talked about playing with scale. That’s something you got to do again, specifically with Ymir. Is that going to be a theme?
CL: Yeah, definitely. In this episode, frankly in most episodes we play with scale to some extent. It’s part of what makes the show unique, and one of the main elements that differentiate this show from Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spider-Man. That’s fun for us, but also we want the Hulk to feel big, but then the threats to feel even bigger. Their challenges are so physically massive that it creates fun action, you know, flying around in the Arctic getting from one place to the other and dealing with a threat so big, they have to use these jet boards and it’s very important to us to keep the action dynamic and interesting and new throughout 26 episodes, and hopefully many more than that. So, an aerial battle or different kinds of vehicles and weapons are ways that we can freshen it up. At the end of the day, all the Hulk’s smash, and if we can do that for 21 minutes every week but I think for our audience and for ourselves, we want to have smashing plus all of these other exciting elements—aerial battles, cool weapons and vehicles.
CA: Getting back to the Hulks themselves, as the series progresses, you can see their family developing. Whereas early on they fought a lot, in this episode you see them — Hulk and Red Hulk — fighting over something completely petty. Is that part of the developmental process? That’s something people can relate to.
CL: Yeah, the dynamics become more personal at this point. It started out with, as you said, major philosophical differences, and very different motives. Red expecting to be leader, Skaar having loyalty to The Leader, Hulk not really being comfortable with A-Bomb in battle. So now, okay, they’re a family and they are going to do this thing together, they are going to be a team and a family, but can they get along? Because their personalities are so different. And with Thor there too you get humor out of that but it really sort of mirrors the action in so many ways, or the great contrast of the action depending on the outcome. And you can see the relationships evolve throughout the season. They become more unified as a family towards the end.
CA: We talked about playing up the fact that Skaar has found a kindred spirit in Thor and you’ll explore it later on. Is that something the Hulk will be threatened by?
CL: A little bit yes. But at the same time, Hulk can see that somebody like Thor has a lot to offer Skaar that maybe the Hulk doesn’t, and so he’s torn by that—what’s best for Skaar. And that’s going to come up. In another Thor episode we’re going to go to Asgard, and we are going to see that Skaar in many ways fits in better on Asgard than he has on Earth. So that’s an interesting story to explore.
CA: Can you give us a few hints about the next episode?
CL: We get the Mole Man—a really fun interesting version of the Moleman—we do play with scale as well because we have the tiny Moloids and these massive underground disgusting monsters that the Hulk has to contend with. So, it’s a very interesting episode and we get a nice big helping of Stan Lee.
CA: And that was Stan Lee’s first villain.
CL: Yes! That was Stan Lee’s first Silver Age Marvel villain so it’s appropriate to have Stan on hand playing the Mayor of Vista Verde the town that’s the centerpiece of so many of our stories.