Invincible’s Robert Kirkman on Season 2, the Atom Eve Ep, and Killing Your Faves

Thứ sáu - 17/05/2024 22:05
At Comic-Con, The Walking Dead creator talked Invincible Season 2, the new Atom Eve Special, and the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. 
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It’s been over two years since Invincible’s first season took the streaming world by storm, but the wait for more is finally coming to a close. Based on the acclaimed Image comic created by The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman, Invincible stars Steven Yeun (Beef, The Walking Dead) as the voice of Mark Grayson, the superpowered son of the world’s greatest hero, Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons).

After eight brutal, bloody episodes of R-rated superhero awesomeness back in the spring of 2021, filled with twists, turns, betrayals, and a lot of collateral damage, the star-studded series will finally return for its second season on November 3.

Posters for Invincible's Atom Eve Special and Season 2

But in the meantime, to hold fans over for the next few months, there’s a special episode available now, branded as “Season 2, Episode 0,” and called “Invincible: Atom Eve,” it’s a standalone origin story for Atom Eve (voiced by Gillian Jacobs), and, while talking to Kirkman at San Diego Comic-Con, we learned that he hopes to do more one-shot, character-focused episodes like this one in the future.

We also discussed the hectic production schedule for Seasons 2 and 3, which overlapped quite a bit – though for the eventual benefit of the fans.

Up and Atom

The Atom Eve episode was designed to be a “little taste of Invincible” leading up to Season 2, according to Kirkman. Following Jacobs’ Samantha from early childhood to adolescence, the special hones in on the alienation she feels due to her emerging superpowers.

“Atom Eve is an extremely important character to the Invincible series,” he explained. “If you are familiar with the comic books at all, you know that her importance to the series just grows and grows as we get deeper into the story. And there are very important aspects of her backstory that we were able to tell in the Atom Eve miniseries from Benito Cereno and Nate Bellegarde that I oversaw where we established some of that backstory. And so we’re adapting that story in this special episode.”

“There are things about this episode that will come into play seasons later that you’ll then know,” Kirkman shared. “Those nuggets are established here”

Atom Eve/Samantha Wilkins from Invincible.

Though airing separately from Season 2’s official launch, Kirkman wanted to make clear that this is a very important chapter, and a great showcase for a character they love. “I think there are so many characters in Invincible that anytime we can have a chance to put a spotlight on one of them, and show you more about them, it’s a real treat for us. And hopefully a real treat for the fans. It’s something that I’d love to be able to do again with other characters, so hopefully that’ll happen.”

Added Kirkman, “We love the Atom Eve character and it and it was really great to be able to kind of dig in and show a very detailed look at her very complicated backstory.”

Much Ado About Season 2 

Fans were left with a lot to chew on when Invincible Season 1 wrapped up. Omni-Man’s true plans for world domination and alien invasion were revealed while Mark – aka Invincible – learned of a galactic resistance against the seemingly-unstoppable Viltrumites, making him feel not so alone.

And then, for fans, came the rather long wait for Season 2… But, fear not, this may be the last of the big gaps between seasons. “We were fortunate enough to get both [Seasons 2 and 3] picked up at the same time,” Kirkman noted. “But, you know, all of that happened deep into the Pandemic. And so we had to figure out how shows are made in the Pandemic and rebuild the team to get Season 2 and 3 going. And it’s just a really long process.”

Invincible/Mark Grayson from Invincible.

“Also, when you see the show, when you see where we’re going with Season 2 and 3, this is just an insanely dense, complicated show,” he remarked. “There’s a ton of different characters in every episode. There’s a ton of different locations. It’s just an absolute bear to make this show. Finding the systems and processes and getting it all up to speed has taken a lot of time, a lot more time than we wish it had.”

“We’re as upset as the fans are. We just don’t voice it as often and annoyingly as they do sometimes,” Kirkman said with a grin, before stressing, “All of the work that was done in that gap is going to ensure that we have lived through the longest period of time there will ever be between seasons of Invincible. Every other season, however long we go, the wait will be less, so that’s very exciting. You have a period of writing, and then you’re doing animatics and then voice acting. And it all overlaps. So there’d be times where there’s animatics and things coming in on Season 2 while we’re doing voice records for Season 3 to get ready for that. A lot of work on Season 3 has already been done.”

Invincible is also taking its TV cues from Kirkman’s other hit series, The Walking Dead, in terms of spreading a season out longer, as Season 2 will be split into two runs of four episodes. “When you see the episodes, episode four of Season 2 is a very obvious midseason finale,” Kirkman said. “People are going to need time to recover from that episode.”

Like The Walking Dead before it, Invincible will go into hibernation during the winter. “It’s a structure that worked really well with Walking Dead. When you’re going into the holiday season there’s just so much going on in people’s lives. It’s great to have that breather to come back and experience the show after you’ve had time to digest. I think it’s going to be really great for the show.”

Celebrating 20 Invincible Years

Not only was Kirkman on hand at Comic-Con for the upcoming season of Invincible, but this year also happens to be Invincible’s 20th anniversary, going back to when it started as a comic in 2003. “It’s also, I think, my 22nd Comic-Con that I’ve been to,” Kirman noted. “So it’s just me walking around feeling like an old man!”

“But it’s really exciting,” he continued, “because 20 years ago and I would never in a million years think that Invincible would still be something people were talking about now. Something that people were enjoying. And to be working with Prime Video, to be doing this Invincible animated series, and to be finally coming back and talking about Season 2 after what I call a very short break. It’s just great and it’s also great being back at Comic-Con after the Pandemic.”

Invincible/Mark Grayson and Allen the Alien from Invincible.

Kirkman has also learned over the years, as a writer, how important diversity is for his projects, something he was happy the animated version of Invincible could depict. “We have to recognize that a couple of dumb white guys made this comic book in the early 2000s and there was a real lack of diversity in that series. And also, with the Invincible character himself, we talked to fans at all of the conventions and places we would go and because his ethnicity was ambiguous in the comics, everyone identified with him. So we would have Filipino fans come up and say ‘I’m so excited that you made Mark Filipino!’ We would have Mexican fans come up and say ‘We’re so excited that you made Mark Mexican!’ And it was just amazing to see how important representation is on a personal level when you’re face to face with a person.”

“Because I grew up at a time where I went to see Rambo and Die Hard and Terminator and every movie that came out when I was a child and I watched a bunch of tough white guys do cool stuff,” he continued, “and I was like, ‘this is a lot of fun’ and you end up being in this bubble where you have no awareness of what it’s like to live in a world where you’re not seeing yourself reflected in all of these other things. So to be able to be in any small part working against that is a tremendous honor and it’s something that is incredibly important to us with this series and with everything that I do and everything my company Skybound does. And it’s very, very important to Prime Video. It’s something that they’re talking to us about constantly and I think that’s fantastic.”

The Strike Situation 

Kirkman was able to appear at Comic-Con for Invincible specifically as a writer and Executive Producer because animation writing is not done under the WGA but rather the Animators Guild, and thus isn’t part of the ongoing strike. However, as a WGA member himself and someone who obviously works hand in hand with many actors on all his TV and streaming projects, he made it clear he supported the cause of both the WGA and the simultaneous actors strike by SAG-AFTRA, the latter of which kept any Invincible cast from SDCC.

Robert Kirkman at San Diego Comic-Con 2023

Said Kirkman, “I support the WGA and SAG completely, I have no idea how long the strike is going to last… I hope that it lasts as long as it needs to, because this is an inflection point where the livelihood of writers and actors is very much at stake. The business is evolving in a way that is leaving some people behind. And unions are taking a stand and saying, ‘We have to draw a line in the sand, and we have to protect these communities.’ Otherwise, the ways of life that everyone has experienced for decades and decades that were established by previous strikes are going to go away.”

While Invincible, as an animated series, is well into production on its new episodes, the same can’t be said for many live-action series and Kirman remarked, “I think it’s a very serious time and these communities need huge amounts of support right now. And I’m hoping that everybody can understand that there might be a gap in programming, there might be a gap in all the stuff that we love, but it is very important, and it’s needed.”

Never Tell Kirkman You Love a Character

Kirkman gets feedback from fans all the time, whether it’s online or in person at conventions. One thing he loves hearing is when fans really truly connect with a character… but maybe not entirely for the reasons you’d think.

“There’s a lot of ‘Don’t kill this character!’ or ‘don’t kill that character,’” Kirkman said. “Walking Dead is not the only thing I’ve done where multiple characters die.  So people get really invested in these characters and it’s and it’s great to know that. It tells you how much they’re invested. You know ‘This character’s like a member of my family’ or ‘If you take this character out of the series, I’m going to be distraught.’”

“That tells me that that character’s got to go, because I’m trying to get the biggest emotional reaction out of the audience at all times,” Kirkman revealed. “So maybe be careful when you talk to me at Comic-Con!”

Invincible Season 2 debuts November 3 on Prime Video.

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