The Avengers Hold Cort on Galactus’ New Herald

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This past weekend, the Avengers met the Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time and things were…not conflict free, exactly.

Iron Man attempted to take on the Devourer of Worlds, Galactus, all by his lonesome and ended up a Herald for his troubles. Unsure if the Power Cosmic had stripped Tony of his will or his sanity or–if Iron Man was playing the dangerous cosmic entity–the Avengers nonetheless stood with their teammate and repelled the Guardians’ attempts to stymy Tony’s efforts.

Supervising Producer Cort Lane took some time to discuss the episode with Marvel, touching on the Guardians’ looks, Hawkeye’s big moment and Tony’s confidence boost. Tap into the Power Cosmic to join the conversation below–or just use your mouse and keyboard, I suppose.

Marvel: After the events of last episode, it is a bit of a surprise–although, maybe not–to see Iron Man almost immediately break rank at the start of this episode to go off and solve things on his own. In terms of conceiving the episode, given how problematic Tony only listening to himself was last week, what was that moment supposed to get to or to demonstrate?

Cort Lane: What it was meant to highlight was, in particular, this time the team has faith in [Iron Man]. It’s hard, but they are willing to trust, given all evidence to the contrary, that he’s actually doing the right thing.

In this particular episode, he’s in a do-or-die situation with Galactus attacking and he cannot communicate to them the plan. The lesson here is, the team was able to trust [Tony] that there was a great plan.

Marvel: How does the team take the criticism from Star-Lord’s parting words or, even more pointedly, from Rocket Raccoon’s last comments regarding the Avengers’ tactics and ability to work together?

Cort Lane: I don’t think that the [Avengers] buy it. What’s unique in this episode is that Captain America seems to trust Tony’s approach throughout. They’ve gone a long way to get to that point. Captain America has one of his very detailed plans, a Galactus contingency, and Iron Man knows that it is not enough. In this particular instance, Captain America assesses that Tony will figure it out if you trust him to do so.

So I don’t think that [the Avengers] particularly care what the Guardians think of them.

Marvel: Overall, how do the Avengers come away feeling about the Guardians as a team?

Cort Lane: We play it a little loose this episode in that there seems to be some awareness of the Guardians by the Avengers. I think that [the Avengers] have respect for [the Guardians], but don’t understand them very well because what they do is so unrelated to what the Avengers do.

Marvel: Beyond what’s spoken, how do the Guardians feel about how things played out between the two teams?

Cort Lane: You know, at the end of the day, the D’Baries are saved and that’s what the Guardians care about. And it’s thanks to Tony that they are safe. If he hadn’t brought Galactus there, they wouldn’t have evacuated the planet and they would’ve all perished.

By the way, I don’t know if you caught this, and maybe some fans won’t, but the the D’Bari are famous as the race that Phoenix destroys in [the “Dark Phoenix”] storyline but first appeared in AVENGERS #4 way back in the day.

Marvel: Oh, the broccoli looking people? That’s who they are?

Cort Lane: I think of them as asparagus looking, but ok, broccoli.

Marvel: Fair enough. Transitioning to their savior, for Tony, after the disappointment of last episode and how expectation-altering or value-altering that experience was for him, how does it feel to get so clear a victory here?

Cort Lane: Right. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see him revel in his victory that much because it comes so close to the end of the episode. But it is confidence boosting for him and he needs that going into the last episodes of the season.

Marvel: When you guys decided to bring in the Guardians, did that end up presenting any particular challenges? Was there any difficulty about making that lineup work or did it seem to be a pretty smooth inclusion?

Cort Lane: We understood who the lineup in the film was going to be and we understood basic personalities. We were just excited to feature the Guardians in some way. We also featured them in “Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man” and they’ll be coming up again in “Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.”

I just love the Guardians as characters. They’re just so unusual, so different from most Marvel heroes. I’m excited to expose kids to them, so they can learn about them, and get excited prior to the movie.

Marvel: In terms of their looks, for the most part they are pretty close to how they look in the film, but I noticed that both Groot and Gamora were slightly different. Gamora’s skin tone is a little different, she skews a little more comic book-y in her costume, for example. I was curious if there was any sort of discussion about how to make them look or what decisions were made regarding that?

Cort Lane: It’s interesting. When we went into pre-production on this episode they were not far into pre-production on the film for us to match up with what they were doing. So, we made our best guess based on what was happening in publishing. We’ll start to align more as appearances of the Guardians continue.

Marvel: For you personally were there any moments that stuck out as particularly excellent or really made you laugh, or you just had a really strong reaction to this week?

Cort Lane: Just the idea of Iron Man as Galactus’ herald. [It was] really fresh and new. Obviously there are times where we like to retell stories or touch on stories throughout Marvel’s history, but this was a time when we were able to tell a story that had never told: Iron Man as Galactus’s herald. That brings a really interesting dynamic because Iron Man, in this case as Galactus’s herald, was able to outsmart Galactus. That’s a really different story so that was very satisfying for me.

Then, the inclusion of the D’Bari was a neat Easter egg for me.

My favorite humor moment is when Hawkeye says, “Why are the green ones always so mean.” And it is true. The green ones are always so mean in the Marvel Universe.

Marvel: That was an excellent line.

Cort Lane: Except Impossible Man. But he doesn’t count.

Marvel: Actually, my favorite moment was also Hawkeye-related. Hawekeye, in a little more serious scene, confronts Tony while Tony is still the herald. It highlighted a different side of Hawkeye that we really haven’t see on the show yet. I was curious how that came about and why he was the one given that moment?

Cort Lane: Because I think it was surprising he was given that moment. The easy thing to do is to give that moment to Cap. But Cap already seems to have faith in Tony throughout the episode, not to mention that Cap has had to come a long way to get to that moment. But Hawkeye, who’s the most snarky and sarcastic and perhaps the least trusting of the team, for him to get to that moment where he realizes that Iron Man is trying to communicate something….In terms of the team trusting each other and believing each other, that’s the farthest point we can take.

Marvel: Given that Tony outsmarted Galactus as his herald, I find it hard to believe that there won’t be some sort of comeuppance for that in the near future. Any hints of, maybe, future heralds appearing or of Galactus taking his revenge?

Cort Lane: No immediate plans, but we don’t forget this stuff as we develop stories for this show.

Marvel: As I understand it, next week marks a return to the meta-storyline of the Avengers against the Cabal. Anything you can speak to that we should be looking forward to?

Cort Lane: The next one is pretty unusual because it gives us the opportunity to learn more about Falcon. When we started the series Falcon had an important role because he was an entry point character for kids. He was youthful, enthusiastic, and there was this sense of excitement and wonder that he had as he had these adventures with the Avengers. In this particular episode we get to meet his mother and learn more about him through that.

Our big guest on the episode, though, is Ant-Man. Getting to explore Ant-Man as a snarky hero who is maybe almost as smart as Iron Man and can give Iron Man a little bit of a run for his money…all of that provides a lot of great character work.

Marvel: Having referenced earlier the challenges of adapting characters who have movies coming out that you might not have the design work for yet, did Ant-Man present any difficulties in this way?

Cort Lane: No, I think the great thing about Ant-Man is there are so many decades of Ant-Man costumes that it really becomes about picking out the elements you like the most. There’s so much material to work from.

Marvel: Following the next episode, there’s a bit of time until the next new one. What else can we look forward to, really looking ahead in teases here, in those last episodes that come after the break?

Cort Lane: I’m thinking about what I can say…

Well, all I can say is that the Cabal storyline comes to a head. They, frankly, become a threat on a level that the Avengers can’t deal with. So far, you’ve seen Red Skull and you’ve seen Iron Skull, but for the first time in the finale you’ll get to really see Cosmic Skull.

And I’ll leave it at that.