Disney rolled out ‘Marvel Rising’ over the summer. Not only was the first issue of the Marvel Comics series part of Free Comic Book Day, but an accompanying series of animated shorts, entitled ‘Marvel Rising: Initiation’ hit YouTube. Now the series proper is coming to Disney XD, with an accompanying line of licensed merchandise to boot.
‘Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors’ is unique in that it’s the first Marvel-based animated series from Disney that isn’t based on an existing movie. Instead, the show draws from recent comics and some of the most popular new characters to emerge in recent years, like Ghost-Spider (originally known as Spider-Gwen), Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl and more.
Executive producer Cort Lane offered some insight into the creation of this series in preparation for its premiere this weekend. For starters, ‘Marvel Rising’ is obviously aimed at a different audience than the existing Marvel cartoons. While Lane says that Disney wants boys “to enjoy watching it, too,” the show is aimed at girls. With that in mind, there had to be some changes made in how the creators approached it.
“We would need to deliver on great action and adventure, on great character moments that are signature of all Marvel stories, but to make sure that we dig into the areas that are most appealing to girls: Themes of friendship and how they connect with each other, themes about fathers and daughters, all that stuff is especially relevant to the demo.
“So in terms of crafting the scripts, that’s where we really adjusted things. And they’re little things, too. With girls, they wanted to see really expressive faces, they wanted the hair to be prettier. There’s a sequence in the prequel where Gwen is playing the drums and her hair is shaking around … our director rotoscoped a young woman playing the drums so he could get it right so it could look like a girl playing the drums and it would be dynamic.
“There are little things that we did, but I think most of it was in the scripting process. That duality in terms of their real lives and their superhero lives is something that girls really connect with, as well. And a lot of characters have that.”
While Lane stated that the cartoon doesn’t intersect with the movies– “What they do is so specific and different and long-lead”– there are elements from live action that the show draws from, especially with the voice cast. ‘Agents of SHIELD’‘s Chloe Bennet reprises her live-action role of Quake, while Milana Vayntrub, who played a live-action Squirrel Girl in the pilot for ‘New Warriors’ (which was not picked up), also voices that character on ‘Marvel Rising’. And while it isn’t a live-action project, ‘Avengers Assemble’‘s Kathreen Khavari reprises her role as Ms. Marvel on this series.
And speaking of the cast, the series pulled in actors that already connected with the target audience, especially those that appear on Disney and Freeform series. ‘The Fosters” Cierra Ramirez portrays America Chavez, while Kamil McFadden from ‘K.C. Undercover’ performs as Patriot. And though he may be a bit older, Tyler Posey, who headlined MTV’s ‘Teen Wolf’ appears as new character Inferno.
But perhaps the biggest name on the list is Dove Cameron who voices Gwen Stacy/Ghost-Spider. Cameron headlined the Disney sitcom ‘Liv & Maddie’ but is probably better known for her role as Mal, the lead character in the ‘Descendants’ movies.
According to Lane:
“She nails the part. She loves music so having her as a drummer and having her sing a theme song, but also in terms of the attitude and the voice of the character, she is just as spunky and delivers on that character’s personality. It was an interesting process and more involved than what we typically do.”
Cameron obviously sang quite a bit in the ‘Descendants’ movies, so Disney took advantage of that here, as she recorded the ‘Marvel Rising’ theme song ‘Born Ready’:
In addition, ‘Marvel Rising’ has a line of Hasbro dolls on the way to Target stores:
And if things take off, girls can masquerade as their favorite characters this Halloween:
As Lane describes the series overall:
“It’s a story of young people with amazing abilities who want to use them to make the world a better place, but they’re just figuring out their abilities and their place in the world. They’re the next generation of great Marvel heroes, so we get to watch their evolution, we get to see them screw up, we get to see them become these heroes over the course of their story.”
‘Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors’ kicks off on Disney XD this Sunday, September 30.