AVENGERS Animated Assembling w/ Phil Lamarr

AVENGERS Animated Assembling w/ Lamarr

The upcoming animated series The Avenger: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is already recording its second season and the first one hasn't aired yet.  To add to the mystery, it isn't even listed on IMDB!  Since the announcement of the new series in October 2008, nearly no new information has come out about the series, originally announced as a 2011 airing.

Newsarama got a chance to chat with Phil Lamarr, who gave us the exclusive scoop.  And he should know.  Not only is he playing J.A.R.V.I.S. and Wonder Man, but he's an avid comic book fan!  He proved this during the interview, pulling out a big bag filled with brand new comics and trades!  (We'll let you know which ones below.)  He's also voiced half the comic universe, playing everyone from Green Lantern-John Stewart to Maximillion Zeus to  S.T.R.I.P.E. to Gambit.  Lamarr gives us the details on the Avengers cast, who we'll see, the story line and the tone of the show.  And in the mean time, you can hear the master of voices as Bail Organa in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and as Hermes Conrad (and about a thousand other characters) in the upcoming relaunch of Futurama.

Newsarama:  So I have to ask you about The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes...

Phil Lamarr:  On the off chance that it actually exists.  [laughs]

Nrama:  Yeah!  [laughs]  It's nowhere!  The cast isn't listed anywhere and the only reason I know anyone who is in the cast is because I interviewed Dawn Olivieri from Heroes who is playing Pepper Potts and Rick Wasserman from Planet Hulk who told me he's playing Thor and Absorbing Man.

Lamarr:  Yes.  And Fred Tatasciore is playing the Hulk...

Nrama:  Right.  

Lamarr:  ...who is the Hulk.  Because he's the only one who can do that voice and survive.  [laughs]

Nrama:  Rick said it was really hard to do the Hulk voice...but he was emoting Hulk.

Lamarr:  Yeah, he was 'talking in full sentences Hulk'.  

Nrama:  And you're playing Jarvis.

Lamarr:  I'm playing Jarvis.  The Favreau Iron Man Jarvis, not the classic comic book Jarvis.  This is the J.A.R.V.I.S....I don't know what it stands for, but he's the artificial intelligence, disembodied voice.  [laughs]

Nrama:  Are you doing any other characters?  You usually do a ton for each project.

Lamarr:  I'm also doing Wonder Man, with the Masters of Evil.

Nrama:  What other characters are we going to see?

Lamarr:  We're going to see all of them.

Nrama:  All of them?

Lamarr:  They're basically telling the Avengers story [starting] from Avengers #1.  And it's not set in that time, put it follows the same plot points as the original.

Nrama:  So it starts off with the Loki plot?

Lamarr:  Yeah, there's Loki, there's Hulk, there's Cap and Masters of Evil...it's following those fundamental original story lines.

Nrama:  Does it ever diverge?  I know you guys are doing Season 2 now...

Lamarr:  It's not slavishly following, but they're taking the broad strokes.  They're taking what is best from the story lines.  But the characterizations are shifted a lot.  Honestly, some of the characters in the original comic books...the characterizations weren't very strong, where they've shifted over the years.  Like Ant-Man.

Nrama:  Oh yeah!  Ant-Man has been all over the place.  [laughs]

Lamarr:  Yeah, he's changing costumes, 'I'm a drunk!  I'm a wife beater!  Arrgh!'  [laughs]  There's some of that, but I think...even Tony Stark.  'I'm an industrialist.  Now I drink.'

Nrama:  Is there any 'Demon in a Bottle' in there?

Lamarr:  No.  It's interesting.  I think they're taking a lot of Iron Man elements from the prominent image of Iron Man that is out there now, which is the movie.  But they have a little more liberty with some of the characters that haven't been put out there yet.  Wally Wingert is doing Ant-Man and Chris Cox is doing Hawkeye.  They introduce Black Panther, which again is not completely following the original story.

Nrama:  We're all curious about the cast, because very little information is actually out there.

Lamarr:  Colleen O'Shaughnessey is The Wasp.  Who else...?

Nrama:  Are you allowed to tell me?

Lamarr:  Well, no one ever said, 'Don't say anything.'  

Nrama:  Who's playing Loki?

Lamarr:  I don't know.  I wasn't in those episodes.  There is a whole set of Norse god characters...I just saw a reference in the script...in the script I just read, I saw, 'Thor walking with Odin,' but Odin doesn't speak, so he wasn't there.  [laughs]  It's like, [in a gravelly voice] 'Hmmm'.  So I don't know who's playing Odin.  I'm trying to think if I ever saw Loki.  I know Nolan North is playing Baldur.  

Nrama:  Why did they do it so early?  It's funny that you guys are recording the second season and the first hasn't aired yet.

Lamarr:  Well, I think Marvel just had a burst of energy or capital.  [laughs]  I don't know.  It was weird.  At the time, auditioning for it...I believe we auditioned for that at the same time they auditioned for the kiddy Avengers series [Super Hero Squad].  And obviously they weren't going to start both at the same time.  But they were in production at the same time.  I think they were just maximizing their production capabilities.  Like, well, we can record it and animate it whenever we want, and then air it whenever we want.

Nrama:  Do you know when it's going to air?  What station it will be on?

Lamarr:  I don't know.  I mean, in a lot of ways, Marvel is smart to take control of it, instead of having to get notes from some network, and have them nickle and dime them.  'We're going to make a great show, that we own, then we'll sell it to you if you like it.'  Who knows?  By the time the finish it, there will probably be a couple of networks that are options to air it that didn't exist when they started.  [laughs]  Like Disney XD wasn't around.

Nrama:  Any surprise characters we might be seeing?

Lamarr:  It depends on the depth of your comic book knowledge, whether it's a surprise or not.  Nobody surprised me!  [laughs]

Nrama:  That's because you're a comic book guy!  [laughs]

Lamarr:  Although if the Purple Man showed up...that would be a surprise.

Nrama:  [laughs]  Awesome.

Lamarr:  But that hasn't happened yet.

Nrama:  What is the tone of the series?  How dark is it?  A lot of comic book movies are pretty dark, as are many of the comics themselves.  But it depends which version you read...who is this particular series aimed at?

Lamarr:  I would say that the tone on Avengers is mature but not dark.  It's not a kiddy show.  I mean, there is peril.  There is a lot of action, but I don't think there is any effort or desire to make it gritty.  These are heroes.  I would say the thing that is most unique about it is, it's more character-driven than most superhero action series.  The relationships between the characters [are the focus].  You're seeing more of that than you have, I think, in other series.  I think that makes it skew a little older...but there is as much action as anybody of any age could want.

Nrama: What are you reading now?

[Lamarr reaches into his bag and pulls out a giant stack of new comic books and trades.]

Lamarr:  I've been reading  Executive Assistant which looks like porn, but isn't.  [laughs]

Nrama:  Oh my god, that is a giant bag of comics!

Lamarr:  I'm so far behind.  The books that I'm reading now that I'm loving...Iron Man with the Stark Disassembled storyline, everything FablesJack, Cinderella, all of it.  The Boys, even though I'm embarrassed.  I have to look around and see who's around before I start reading it.  But that's true of any Garth Ennis.  All Buffy.  I've been a Buffy fan since episode one.   I would get mocked.  I would come into Mad TV rehearsals the day after Buffy aired and I would tell people, 'Oh you have to watch!'  And no one would care.  They were like, 'What?  Buffy?  The Vampire Slayer?'  They would just look at me like I was insane.  But it was so good.  Let's see...of course, Kevin Smith's Batman: The Widening Gyre...you have to buy anything with a Bill Sienkiewicz cover.  You have to.  Oh!  Ed Brubaker stuff.  Criminal.  And everything by Robert Kirkman...well, that's not true...I'm not reading everything by Robert Kirkman, but I read Walking Dead  religiously.  And Invincible. Oh!  And of course, Mark Waid's Irredeemable.  It's really good.  Waid is just so amazing.  What he's doing.  Because he knows the archetypes of comic books so well.  They're just in him.  He can turn them on their ear and come at them from a new angle.  

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