Spider-Man has a tough enough time with one Green Goblin – imagine a whole city of them. That’s what the wall-crawler has coming up in November 10’s season finale to the animated series Ultimate Spider-Man. After the fight with the reformed Sinister Six in the last episode, Spider-Man’s teammates are down and out just when he needs them most thanks to the returning Green Goblin. After Doctor Octopus transformed Norman back into the Green Goblin, he’s got his sights set on New York City itself to became an army of Goblins.
These events are just days away as Ultimate Spider-Man’s season two finale is set to air Sunday November 10, 2013 on Disney XD, and Newsarama talked with two of the show’s writers – Joe Kelly and Duncan Rouleau – about this weekend’s pivotal episode as well as plans they have for the future. The two comics alums talk in depth about successes they’ve had on screen and off, as well as heroes they’d like to tackle in next year’s season three.
Newsarama: We’re closing in on the season two finale of Ultimate Spider-Man right now. What can you tell us about this weekend’s finale?
Duncan Rouleau: What I can say about these final episodes is that it’s a culmination of everything, especially the moment in season one where Nick Fury told Spider-Man he wanted to help him become the “Ultimate Spider-Man.” Season Two was about Spidey learning to work with a team because he’s such a loner usually; and in that, he ends up taking on being the responsible one in the team. The season finale brings those threads (and more) to a head. I can’t reveal too much, but the next logical step in this growth for Peter Parker and Ultimate Spider-Man is revealed in the finale.
Joe Kelly: Like Duncan said, this culminates everything so far; all of the trouble caused with Doctor Octopus and Norman Osborn also overflows and spills out into the end of the season.
Nrama: Surely you can tell us more about this weekend’s finale, “Ultimate.” What can you tell us about it?
Rouleau: I can tease one element: Spider-Man gets asked a question, and at the end he has to say yes or no. Stay until the end of the episode to see it.
Kelly: As we said earlier, this episode is the culmination of what we’ve done for the past two years. I hope fans will dig it; it’s a really big meaty story, and Spider-Man kicks a lot of ass.
Rouleau: Much in the same way we teased the finale to Season One as a game changer, “Ultimate” is that same level of shift. It sets up the chessboard for season three.
Nrama: Speaking of that, at Comic-Con International: San Diego this summer Marvel confirmed Ultimate Spider-Man will be coming back for a third season next year. I know you’re extremely early in the planning of it, but can you tell us what you’re hoping to do with the new season?
Kelly: Honestly, there’s really not a lot we can say because it’s so early on.
Rouleau: Season Three of Ultimate Spider-Man will open up the series to a lot more of the Marvel Universe.
Nrama: Guys, you’re best known these days for creating and working on your own thing – from Ben10 and Generator Rex to your Man of Action books at Image. What made Ultimate Spider-Man something you wanted to do, especially now that you’ve done two seasons and counting?
Kelly: Just speaking for myself, but I got my start at Marvel and as a company it holds a very special place in my career and heart. I’ve always been a humongous fan of Spider-Man; he was my favorite super-hero growing up. So when Man of Action was first approached to spearhead a Spider-Man cartoon jointly done by Marvel and Disney, of course we said yes.
Working on Ultimate Spider-Man is fun on the gut level; we love the characters, we love Spider-Man and we love the Avengers. From a Man of Action point-of-view, it’s a great opportunity and a great place to be. We’re working with some of the coolest people in comics and animation.
Rouleau: Marvel has a real pioneer spirit going on with their characters, and with film and animation specifically; it’s really exciting to be around that. And just to add to Joe’s love and enthusiasm, I feel the same way. Spider-Man’s always been my guy, and the fact that Marvel was really open to us finding a way to make Spider-Man work in the animated realm in a different way than ever before was really attractive from a creative point-of-view.
Nrama: Are there any characters from previous seasons you are hoping to feature again?
Rouleau: Oddly enough, one of my favorite second-tier heroes: Nova. He’s not second-tier to me, but he’s on a lower rung than Spider-Man obviously. But Nova’s always been one of my personal favorites. I couldn’t tell you why exactly; maybe he struck me at the right time. My other personal favorite is one who I think everyone thinks about trying to unlock and give him more life: Doctor Strange.
Kelly: I love the episodes with Deadpool, which ties in back to my earlier career and my love of that character. I love that we had a viable universe and situation where we could bring in Spider-Ham and have it make sense and be totally legit. Also, it was great to see Rocket Raccoon animated; silly as it is, I love that character and loved hearing him come to life.
The beauty of this show, as Duncan said before, is the pioneer spirit Marvel has. They let us go in there and have fun.
Nrama: Are there any characters who haven’t been in Ultimate Spider-Man yet that you’d love the chance to bring in?
Kelly: There are characters I like to bring in, but the challenge is doing it as they’re applicable to the larger story. For example with Deadpool we had to tread the line very carefully between who he is in comics and how it is being an animated series on Disney XD.
As for new characters, I love Moon Knight; he resonates with me. I’d love to find a way to use him in Ultimate Spider-Man.
Nrama: Duncan, how about you?
Rouleau: There’s just so many. We have a list of characters all of us think would be fun to see in animated form. Some are characters who have already appeared in other Marvel animated shows, but we’d like to find a reason to use them in Ultimate Spider-Man.
The Marvel animated universe is great the way its constructed; even though there’s an Avengers show and a Hulk show, to a degree Ultimate Spider-Man has a position similar to early issues of Fantastic Four; it’s a crossroads, and a great place to introduce new characters. It’s great to develop characters in this show and spin them off for their own life.
Nrama: Last question, guys; with this “pioneer spirit” as you describe it at Marvel, was there still some scenes or stories that you pitched that you didn’t think would be approved by Marvel but did?
Kelly: The musical.
Rouleau: [laughs] Yeah, the musical. With Flash Thompson dressed up as Spider-Man, and to actually have a song at the end of the episode.
Kelly: Also, the Boston episode and the Hulk episode; the latter one was shot as if done entirely via a camera phone. That one really opened up the story – and the challenge – of doing the series. They’re difficult to do, but when they’re done well they can really change things.
Rouleau: Also, the episode that recently aired, “Stan By Me” with Stan Lee. An awful lot of the dialogue Stan says is dialogue taken directly from comics Stan wrote in the 1960s and 1970s. it was really fun to find those things and put them together in a massive tribute to him, and in the storytelling it all made sense inside the story we were telling. The little things like that really make this fun.
Kelly: There’s a lot of examples from the first season where we were all cutting our teeth and finding the boundaries. The fact that we were allowed to make Harry Osborn turn into Venom was a big deal because we were messing with traditional continuity in a lot of ways. But the way we used Venom and Harry Osborn as the logical growth of the character felt right, and I think viewers have agreed. It was something older fans didn’t expect, and something older fans can relate too.
The spirit of the show is to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. We’ve generally had a lot of luck; even if something doesn’t fly, it spurs something else that does.
Rouleau: What’s so great is that both Marvel Television head Jeph Loeb and Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada are in the room with us on story breaks, and their knowledge about the Marvel universe runs deep. We’re all genuine fans of the Spider-Man books, and between all of us we’ve written and drawn Spider-man an awful lot of times in comics. When something like the idea of Harry Osborn becoming Venom came up, we all knew how it originally happened in comics – but this new story for Ultimate Spider-Man made sense in kind of a weird way. When you have people who are that deeply steeped in Marvel know and you know when things emotionally and narratively make sense, it works.