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Monday, October 4, 2010

The Avengers Assemble

Avengers Assemble! The Series
  • Avengers Assemble! The Series

We are all familiar with the mayhem that takes place when a group of Super Heroes join forces to thwart an evil plan. Who can forget the actions of X-Men, the Justice League, the Super Friends or the Kick-Ass kids?

This is the promise of Marvel's much anticipated big-screen superhero Comic-Con The Avengers headed into production. It has been teased around the corners of Marvel films including both Iron Man movies as well as The Hulk reboot. The Avengers, to be helmed by Joss Wheaton, will feature a melange of A-list actors including Jeremy Renner, Scarlet Johansson, Robert Downey, Jr,. Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, and Chris Evens and will stake out prime real estate with a tent pole May 2012 release date.

In anticipation, a group of local actors, film professionals, and comic fans have assembled to create The Avengers Assemble, a comic series on the comic series.

The Avengers Assemble tweaks the Marvel Universe by introducing real-world politics (the health care overhaul, BP oil spill, conflict in the Middle East), and running them through a filter of inane office board room chatter, all staged as a prelude to an ass-kicking.

The hilarity of series lives somewhere between the minutiae of office politics and the absurdity of the comic universe in which Scarlet Witch asks, "Does the new health care cover an android common law husband?" or Ms. Marvel uses thrKree-Skrull Warras an analogy for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. And what fun Abbot & Costello could have had with the double entendre "death panels."

For some insight into the series, I interviewed series co-producer and actor Chris Burns.

1. Tell me about the origin of The Avengers Assemble.

My friend and fellow filmmaker Brian Godleski sent me a script for a sketch comedy skit back in March and I fell in love with it. I told Brian immediately that I wanted to produce the skit, and would it be possible for us to do a number of these as a Web series. That's when we began developing the skit as a

Brian and I would talk a couple times a week trying to select topical subjects that we could address from a superhero standpoint, then Brian would create a rough draft and we would hammer out the drafts and fine tune it back and forth until we had a shooting script we were both happy with for the episode.

Burns Actor
  • Casey Edwards
  • Eye on the Prize

2. For this project, you've assembled an impressive group of talent. How did
you get everyone together?

Assembling the cast and crew for the show was quite challenging, especially since Brian lives in New York. Not only does he write the show, but he plays Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man as well. So when shooting episodes we have to be strategic as to how we write the episodes but shoot them as well. I will spend about a month planning out the shoot, scheduling the cast, crew, and locations, building costumes and acquiring props. We shoot two episodes a day in roughly a nine hour day, so we have to be extremely efficient with our time.

I am Iron Man
  • I am Iron Man

My wife Miracole is a professional Costumer and Cosplayer, and with the exception of Captain America and Hawkeye, she and I put together all of the costumes you see on screen.

I was in charge of casting and pulled the acting talent together from our mutual friends. Some of the people you see on screen are professional actors such as Matt Cornwell (Thor), Brian (Iron Man), Vince Pisani (Namor) and myself (Hawkeye) while others like Jen Richards (Wasp) and Casey Edwards (Hulk) it was their first time being in front of a camera.

Costumer and Cosplayer
  • Casey Edwards
  • Costumer and Cosplayer

For the crew we have had two different Directors, similar to the way television is shot, we wanted different episodes to have different feels to them while maintaing a steady vision for the series. Brian and I with our editor Matt Cornwell oversee the edits of the show. The opening credits are the amazing work of Casey Edwards. You'll notice that both our Editor and Credits Designer are actors on the show, and my wife who does makeup and wardrobe on the show plays Ms. Marvel. Our core group of contributors to the show wear multiple hats and we all pull together to make the best show possible.

If I had a hammer
  • Casey Edwards
  • If I had a hammer

3. What's the benefit to working on Webisodes as opposed to television and film? What are your aspirations for this series?

Most of us who work on the show are in the entertainment or film business in some capacity so we are all used to being on or around sets. We treat each shoot as if we are on a studio film or television set, and give the material, cast and crew the respect they all deserve. The biggest difference in what we are doing is that our scripts are only 3-4 pages in length so that is part of the reason we are able to shoot two episodes a day. In film and television you can usually expect to shoot anywhere from 3-8 pages of content a day depending upon location changes, stunt work, extras, etc.

Green Party
  • Casey Edwards
  • Green Party

We've tried to craft the series in a manner where it not only appeals to comic book fans, which we are huge fans ourselves, but any one who likes political humor and sketch comedy as well. I would love for every home in America to have Avengers Assemble on their laptops and Hawkeye t-shirts on their children.

4. Thus far you've tackled issues like Healthcare, Jobs, the Oil Spill, The Middle East, & Immigration,
What other topics might we expect in upcoming webisodes?

Brian and I are currently exploring what may be in store for the Avengers next.

People who want to keep up with the Avengers can watch all of the current Episodes on the website at

The Credits!
  • Casey Edwards
  • The Credits!

A direct link to all active episodes is at

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