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BACKSTAGE - INTERVIEW
With Wolverine and The X-Men returning to Nicktoons this Friday, we get our first glimpse into the future that Wolverine fights to avoid. The Marvel Animation Age caught up with the showrunner/story editor Greg Johnson to discuss the
show and what's to come.
MAA: Wolverine and The X-Men returns May 22nd, 2009 to Nicktoons Network with
the all-new episode "Future X." Care to fill us in on this new episode?
Johnson: What’s fun about the basic premise of our series is that it takes place in two timelines. One in the present day, one twenty years in the future, where Charles Xavier has awoken from a coma to find a world run amok by giant sentinels. Future X is our first story that takes place mainly in that future, and we get a peek at the sentinels’ game plan. We’ll also see how Xavier throws in with a ragtag band of mutants who call themselves X-Men. I could seriously enjoy placing an entire series in this future - a dangerous, decaying world where the machines have taken over. Chris Yost wrote just a terrific script.
MAA: Given increased demand for everything "X-Men," will this episode be a good place for new viewers to jump on?
Johnson: Once you understand the goal of our present day X-Men – to prevent certain events from happening in hopes of avoiding the catastrophic future where Xavier now resides
– then the rest is just watching the drama unfold. We’ve patterned our season somewhat after the X-Files series, where some episodes focus on the over
all plot while others are stand-alone stories. But there’s no getting around the fact that this series is more serial in nature than others, so we hope that viewers will take the time to catch up on missed episodes either through Nicktoons.com or the DVD’s.
MAA: On the recent Wolverine and the X-Men: Heroes Return Trilogy DVD release, you mention in the commentary that the explosion that starts off the series will be revealed as the series progresses. How densely plotted are the first 26 episodes of Wolverine and The X-Men?
Johnson: The explosion sets into motion our season-spanning mystery, so naturally the answers are what we build towards through each episode. I think we escalate it at a comfortable pace so that when revelations do start coming, they all make sense. Viewers can look forward to an episode that really examines what had happened on that fateful day, but the full answers aren’t revealed until the final three-parter.
MAA: 16 episodes remain of the first season, including "Future X." As we head forward with new episodes, slowly but surely, what can fans expect as the series ramps toward the first season conclusion?
Johnson: Numerous surprises are in store: Nightcrawler will endeavor to learn if Magneto’s Genosha is truly a paradise. More of Wolverine’s past will come back to haunt him, including lost loves. Cyclops unleashes himself and reveals what he’s really capable of when chasing down a lead on Jean. Mojo and Spiral will have a memorable return engagement. A beloved character will make a tragic decision and change the outcome of many lives. Gambit will pay a little visit to Genosha, and set into motion events that impact both humanity and mutant-kind. And Scott’s relationship with Emma Frost will take a surprising turn. It’s quite a ride.
MAA: Wolverine and The X-Men, along with Iron Man: Armored Adventures, has provided Nicktoons Network with some of their highest ratings ever. Is there any added pressure being the flagship series for the network when working on this series?
Johnson: I’m a neurotic, so yeah, I feel pressure about everything. Every time I sat down with Craig Kyle, Josh Fine, and sometimes Chris Yost – we would know that the story session ahead of us would involve a bottle of Tums. These sessions were rarely tidy, meaning the stories never advance logically – not with so many components. Ideas would be floated, shot down, resurrected, as we grappled with coming up with new ideas using known comic book elements, repackaged for our series – knowing they had to fit into the overall arc, and then ultimately appeal to both the established fan and the new fan.
It’s great fun getting to play in this sandbox, but it would be very easy to get so deep into the X-Men history and mythology that it’s no longer accessible to the casual viewer. So it’s imperative to our success that we find the balance. When I hear that audiences are tuning in and staying with it, then I can’t help but breathe a huge sigh of relief. Of course, I’m stocking up on more Tums because Season Two is underway.
Now, as a tease, can you slip any details on “Wolverine and The X-Men - Season Two,” slated for 2009/2010?
Johnson: As far as Season Two goes, I wish I could. Almost anything I could say would be a spoiler for those who haven’t seen the entire first season. So ask me again once episode 26 has aired.
The Marvel Animation Age would like to thank Greg for his participation in this interview, and his work on the show.
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