Following upon the Iron Man, Wolverine, Blade and X-Men anime series, Iron Man: Rise Of The Technovore is a gamechanging full-length collaboration between Marvel Television and anime giants Madhouse – responsible for the kinetic likes of Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, and Death Note. We spoke to producer Megan Thomas Bradner about the past, present and future of Marvel Anime…
Iron Man certainly seems rich in terms of anime-friendly ideas (mechs, bio-tech, dog-fights, cyberpunk) – do you think all the Marvel characters have that same potential, or do some – like Tony, for example – work better than others?
Well, anime is a medium and not a genre, so it’s not necessarily tied to any one things. Sure, giant robots and Mechs and Sentai work really well – but it has room for lots of things. Soap operas and noir and fairy tales and political dramas and so on. Sure, Iron Man was a character we went to first because we love Tony Stark, and wanted to see what his world would look like done by Madhouse.
Much in the way that comics doesn’t automatically equal superheroes, anime doesn’t necessarily equal big robots. While I love what Madhouse was able to accomplish, I think they’d do as an amazing job in a crime genre, or spy genre or supernatural genre, all of which exist in the Marvel Universe.
How much pressure is there to make sure the series and the movies work in both markets, and that being more Americanised or more Japanese-friendly isn’t at the expense of the other? What’s the toughest challenge in that respect?
With the success of the feature films, the worldwide awareness for Iron is at an all time high, so that helps lessen the ‘pressure.’ But, it’s a balancing act to be sure – to walk the line to make sure our project is accessible to fans and non-fans, and culturally, to both Japanese and American audiences.
We’re cognisant of it, but this is something we made primarily for the Japanese market with a secondary focus on the worldwide market. So while we want everyone to enjoy it and work hard to make ensure that, we need to make sure it works for the Japanese market first.
The Blade animated series was a fan-favourite, was it a surprise to have that sort of win with a character who isn’t a part of the current movie landscape?
He may not be fighting in the Battle of New York, but Blade is still a fan favourite due to his two successful (and awesome) films. That awareness and potential was definitely a factor in doing that series. That said, we weren’t 100% sure how he would ‘translate’ – but we had a very positive reaction from the Japanese audiences.
The Technovore has popped up in Armoured Adventures and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes too, is it satisfying to see this character take on a life far beyond the comic? What is it that works about the character in animation that perhaps didn’t on the page?
On the page, Technovore hardly had a chance before the Infinity Crusade marched it’s way through and wrecked things. (I say this with love! I don’t want the Goddess to come after me…)
I love the way re-invention and communal creation works in a shared universe. How one person can create the first draft as it were and the next person can add something and then over the years you end up in a totally different place. Who knew the Deadpool we saw in New Mutants would end up where he is today? Or Bucky becoming the Winter Soldier? Or Squirrel Girl? I love that aspect of the Marvel Universe.
To be a small part of that, to get to take a character who has a ton of potential and present them to a new audience? That’s just cool.
In terms of a Claremont-inspired journey through the Japanese underworld, you were ahead of the curve with the Wolverine anime (well, about as ‘ahead’ as you can be using a story from the 80s!) – are you looking forward to seeing how The Wolverine measures up?
Super excited to see the movie! We had wanted to try and fit Silver Samurai in, but didn’t end up being able to fit him in, so I’m looking forward to seeing their interpretation of him.
In terms of taking anything form the anime? I’d be interested to see Madripoor. But I think, really, all the have to do is stick to the source material. Stay true to the love story.
This is the fifth project with Madhouse – how has the relationship developed between them and yourselves? Is everyone equally happy with how the shows came out?
It’s worked out so far! Madhouse is a great collaborator – we really look to them and Sony Japan for guidance on what will work for their market. And then we’re their stewards of the brand, make sure it fits with what the ‘red block’ stands for.
We’re constantly working on trying to perfect the workflow between us, and dig down into what works across the Japanese and international markets. Sure, we have our favourites, like I know our Sony and Madhouse colleagues do. But we love all our children equally. Lest they get jealous…
What was the impetus behind Rise Of The Technovore as a feature-length anime after four 12-episode series? Do you have your own anime Phase 2 masterplan?
The DTVs were just a different avenue we had available to us, that provided different advantages when compared to the grind of a 12-episode series. We do have plans for the future, but nothing to announce yet! If you want more, let us know!