Spoiler alert for folks who haven’t caught up with the animated Guardians of the Galaxy series or want to go into the Season 2 finale cold this weekend.
Arriving this Sunday morning on Disney XD (and associated apps) is the Season 2 finale of Marvel Animation’s Guardians of the Galaxy. This season has taken the title team to some far-off and far-out destinations, putting them into conflict or cooperation with the likes of the Believers, the High Evolutionary, the Klyntar symbiotes, Asgardians, Nova Centurions, and many more, but the crux of Season 2 has been centered on Adam Warlock. Now, as the epic season comes to an awesome two-part conclusion, the Guardians will face their toughest challenge yet as the powerful Warlock has transformed into the deadly Magus.
To talk about the season’s thrilling conclusion, and to look ahead to the officially ordered Season 3 of the series, I had a chance to chat with co-executive producer and Senior Vice President, Animation & Family Entertainment, Cort Lane. A longtime Marvel fan, Lane has helped to bring the iconic comics to the small screen in a variety of ways, be it animated series, standalone web shorts, or unique cross-promotions; he’s even had a hand in the story for the Guardians of the Galaxy theme park ride, “Mission Breakout”! Lane and I looked back on Season 2 of the animated Guardians of the Galaxy series to see what worked and what’s ahead for the title team. We also talked about the future of Marvel Animation, which has a lot of upcoming content in store for new and veteran Marvel fans alike. [Again, spoilers follow.]
On bringing Guardians of the Galaxy onto the small screen:
Cort Lane: I think what’s especially exciting about bringing Guardians to kids’ animation is we get to play with more humor and some of the weirder elements of the Marvel universe. So it’s really a fun, creative stretch, being able to play more in wild and weird territory.
Why was Adam Warlock the perfect character for Season 2?
Lane: We needed something that would carry an arc through the season. We had a great storyline that led us back to Earth in Season 1, and now we wanted a story that would carry us to all kinds of places in the Marvel Cosmic Universe. The Adam Warlock story seemed like a great fit. We had a vision of how it would involve Thanos and J’son of Spartax on such an epic scale from the very beginning. Marty Isenberg, our story editor, and Harrison Wilcox, who is our supervising producer, they really wanted to play with Adam Warlock. They’re old-school Marvel fans like me, and they wanted to have fun with that character.
Let’s talk about Tiny Groot:
Lane: One of the creative challenges that we had in this season was marrying the publishing version, the classic version of the Nova Corps and the helmets that they were and the powers that they wield with the film version and finding a reason for that to work together. Once we made that plan, it became lots of fun to play with the helmets, the Guardians wearing them, becoming Nova Centurions, and involving Sam Alexander in the story. It just sort of had a life of its own.
To clarify, the animated series is a separate canon from the MCU, correct?
Lane: Yes. They’re very influenced and inspired by things in the films, across many of our shows.
Are there any restrictions as to which Marvel characters or stories you can use in the animated series?
Lane: Yes and no. We run things up the flagpole and if there’s something very special that Feature Film folks want to reserve as special for what they’re doing in the future, we hold off sometimes. Honestly, for the most part for Guardians, knowing that they were going in a different direction with the story of Peter Quill’s father. We still got to do a version based more on the story in the comics. We have not had that many restrictions; it’s been pretty free and easy, as you can see, with all the characters we’ve been able to explore.
The power of belief was a big part of Season 2, so what positive messages should viewers take away from this season overall?
Lane: That belonging to a family, of being part of something greater than just yourself is the thing that makes all of us better and allows us to accomplish more good in the world. Sounds hokey, but that’s really the story of the Guardians as a group. Individually, for the most part, they’re not the greatest characters as far as things they’ve done in the past and what they’re capable of, but together as a family, despite their differences, they accomplish extraordinary things and save the galaxy. And they bring that lesson to Adam Warlock this season when he feels he’s really failed in his mission, in the final episode. They remind him of what he was able to accomplish as a temporary member of the Guardians.
Favorite moments from Season 2:
Lane: I actually am particularly partial to Episode 2. For some reason, I’ve always been a big fan of the High Evolutionary, and seeing the Avengers and Guardians team up against the High Evolutionary, I don’t know, that was just a fan-boy dream come true for me. I would also say that the quality of the animation, how gorgeous, especially when you go inside Adam Warlock’s gem, just the beauty of the visuals in the last couple of episodes I was very pleased with.