Brian Michael Bendis has been tearing it up in the new Age of Ultron series, and many of us wanted to know if he may be able to shed a little light on the chaos he’s created over at the House of Ideas. Rumors are swirling online about what lies at the end of the tunnel, so we thought that we’d get Bendis aside for a moment to pick his brain on what’s at the eye of the hurricane.
PREVIEWSworld: Brian, reviews of Age of Ultron have writers using terms like "epic," and one even went as far as to say that you've tapped into your "inner Michael Bay." Did you go on at length about the detail you wanted in Bryan Hitch's widescreen art for this series? Or were you letting Bryan be Bryan? How do you handle your writer/artist relationship in determining the boundaries of your control over the art's detail? i.e.: "There's not enough debris in the streets," or "People need to look more horrified in this panel."
Brian Michael Bendis: I had my inner Michael Bay removed in high school in an outpatient procedure during spring break. I think people are referring to my inner Alfonso Cuarón .
And, yes, these first five scripts were written specifically for Bryan and nobody else. This is what he does better than anyone else. And I knew that these may be his last Marvel comics for a while and I wanted to make sure that he went out on a high note of him just being him. I wrote big for him and even though I wrote as big as I could, he still made it bigger.
I treat my artists like a good director treats his actors. If you cast well just let them do their thing. Trust them and their talent.
PREVIEWSworld: Hawkeye seems to be getting quite popular these days, and in Age of Ultron, you have him taking point on a one-man mission to rescue Spider-Man. So why is the wise-crackin' archer so much fun to play with these days? Is it his Everyman appeal? His attitude? What?
Brian Michael Bendis: Well I picked him for this opening sequence because I thought he is a guy, like maybe Black Widow, who has been in places around the world that are as messed up as this. This is something he could maneuver through with more detachment and focus then maybe some of the other more idealist superheroes. And there's also something about a man with just a bow and arrow up against the end of the world. And hey, it's a far cry from years ago when Marvel asked me to kill him off because they thought no one would ever care about a guy who shoots arrows.
PREVIEWSworld: In the scene where Iron Man points to Captain America looking at his broken shield, Iron Man says to Hawkeye "He's thinking." That's such a loaded statement. It could really go anywhere. Help us look inside the head of America's super solider, and tell us what was going through Cap's noggin at that moment. Play psychiatrist for us. Assume you’re Dr. Phil.
Brian Michael Bendis: Captain America is someone who has sacrificed everything for us. And he doesn't regret it for a moment because it was all worth it. Because he wakes up in the morning, and the world is still turning. Except it didn't happen today. All that hard work keeping the land of the free and the home of the brave free and brave was for nothing. All of his friends are gone. All of the loves of his life are gone. America died. And this man is the living embodiment of its spirit.
And he broke his shield. He is a real baby about that.
PREVIEWSworld: You've explained that this series has a few "point of view" characters that the reader can identify with throughout the story. Can you explain the rationale behind this planning? Does the story benefit from such an approach? Do you think such views enhance the plot, or add some new dimension to the characters we haven't seen before? Is this how you were able to push the heroes towards roads less travelled?
Brian Michael Bendis: There were a few reasons. It allows us to travelogue across everything that's happened around the Marvel universe and not just in New York or in one place. There was also something very interesting by having the narrative shared by so many difference heroic points of view. In the story, the plot baton actually gets passed from about a dozen characters before it lands on the ones that will take us through the end of story.
PREVIEWSworld: Additionally, you’ll be working with Carlos Pacheco and Brandon Peterson. What do they bring to the story?
Brian Michael Bendis: I have worked with both of them recently on Avengers and had a wonderful time. After Bryan's issues, something happens in the story that calls for a couple of new looks. Carlos and Brandon were perfect for this. So we will be bouncing back and forth between two different types of stories going on simultaneously. Their very specific styles will be the visual catalyst.
Also, Joe Quesada will be drawing the very secret last scene of the book. It is such a secret we couldn't even tell the artists of the book what the secret is.