It's the moment that Marvel fans have been waiting for ever
since "Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy" originally premiered on Disney XD back
in September of 2015. When Peter Quill & pals journey to Star-Lord's home
planet of Earth and then cross paths with the Avengers.
It's worth noting here that the Marvel Cinematic Universe -
through multiple motion pictures that have been released in its Phase Two &
Phase Three arcs - has been building towards a similar sort of meet-up between
the Guardians & Earth's Mightiest Heroes. In fact, the movie where this
fateful meeting finally happens - "Avengers: Infinity War" - is currently
shooting down in Georgia at Pinewood Atlanta Studios.
The internet temporary lost
its mind last month when Instagram images emerged of Robert Downey Jr., Tom
Holland & Chris Pratt together on the set of "Avengers: Infinity Wars." Copyright Marvel Entertainment. All rights reserved
The downside is ... Film fans will have to wait 'til May of
2018 to see how the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of this meeting goes
down. Or - given that directors Anthony & Joe Russo have always planned on
"Avengers: Infinity War" being a two-part tale - should I say May of 2019?
Whereas Marvel Animation fans, they get to see what happens when the Incredible
Hulk faces off against the inscrutable Groot tonight. On Disney XD. In one epic
hour-long extravaganza that gets underway at 9 p.m. ET / PT.
As you might expect, a lot of advance thought went into the
two episodes of "Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy" that make up tonight's
hour-long programming event. To hear Cort Lane - Marvel's SVP of Animation
& Family - talk, they knew right from the get-go that this Guardians / Avengers
meet-up would translate into ratings gold.
"When we did something similar on 'Ultimate Spider-Man' as
that animated series transitioned from Season Two to Season Three - first by
having Peter Parker be invited to join the Avengers and then by having Loki
& Doctor Octopus team up to take down Spidey - we were able to bring in a
lot of new viewers. People who hadn't previously watched 'Ultimate
Spider-Man,'" Lane explained. "And even though 'Marvel's Guardians of the
Galaxy' already is a successful show, it's always nice to add new viewers. The
real challenge here was to craft a story that not only services the Guardians
& the Avengers but properly set the stage for the season-long storyline
that this Marvel Animation production is planning on telling over Season Two."
Copyright Marvel Entertainment. All rights reserved
And Cort speaks about "servicing," what he's really talking
about is that delicate balance that Marvel always tries to strike with its TV
shows. Which is to try & be true to its incredible stable of characters and
honor what can sometimes be decades worth of story & history while - at the
same time - still giving the fans what they want.
"And with these two episodes of this Disney XD show, we knew
that we had reached a really big moment. The Guardians meeting the
Avengers," said Harrison Wilcox, senior director of Production &
Development at Marvel Television. "Which is why - as we began working on these
particular shows - we gave an awful lot of thought to our character pairings."
"Take - for example - how (WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD) Peter
Quill and Ant-man are paired in these episodes. Given that one of these
characters is an outlaw while the other is a former outlaw ... We thought that
putting those two together to tackle a project made sense from a story
point-of-view," Wilcox continued. "Whereas Captain Marvel & Rocket, given
that Carol is a cosmic character ..."
" ... and that she likes to blow stuff up. Just like Rocket,"
" ... we wanted to see how pairing these two would play out.
And to give our writers credit, they did a really great job with the scenes
that Captain Marvel & Rocket have together. First by having these
characters conflict, then by placing them in direct competition with one
another. I have to say that I love that friendly sort of moment towards the end
of the show where you see that Carol & Rocket now really care about each
other," Harrison enthused.
But at the same time, it's important to understand that the
two episodes of "Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy" that are airing tonight
aren't just some stand-alone programming stunt. They actually pick up where
Season One of this Marvel Animation production left off and then introduce plot
elements that will play out over the course of the next 24 episodes of Season
"At the end of last season, Thanos had been defeated. And as
anyone who's seen the movies or read the comics or watched our TV show knows,
Thanos kind of rides around on this throne chair," explained Wilcox. "Anyway,
over Season Two of "Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy,' we're going to find that
Thanos hid things inside of that throne chair. Things like that sarcophagus
that Rocket hides from the other Guardians at the very end of this show."
"And given that - as we're planning out an entire season of
a Marvel Animation series - we first break our story into four or six
episode-long arcs and then make sure that each individual episode that make up
those arcs have a theme, a throughline plot, and a great character story ...
Well, Rocket hiding that sarcophagus from the other characters is the
jumping-off point for the next two or three arcs for 'Marvel's Guardians of the
Galaxy,' " Harrison continued. "And with each arc, we're going to
explore what one of those items inside of the sarcophagus is. Is it a powerful
weapon? Is it a dangerous weapon? Should it have not been opened? And we're
then going to use these weapons as a way to tie different characters from our
show to the general Marvel cosmic universe but - at the same time -- always
keep one of our five Guardians as the focal point of that particular story."
So that - in a very general sense - is how Season Two of
"Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy" is going to play out. But before that can
happen, there's first the matter of tonight's meet-up between Star Lord &
associates and the Avengers.
"And what's really great about doing this particular story
now is that - after coming off of those first 26 episodes of the animated
'Guardians of the Galaxy' - the writers of this show now really know how these
characters are. And what's fun about the Guardians is that they don't always do
the squeaky-clean right thing. Sometimes they're rascals, rapscallions and
outlaws," Wilcox concluded. "So when you put these characters in the exact same
space as the Avengers, even the longtime hardcore Marvel fans will have trouble
predicting how this interaction will play out. Which is what makes this pair of
The fun starts tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Disney XD.
This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Saturday, March 11, 2017