To celebrate the release of Next Avengers: Heroes Of Tomorrow, the Marvel Animation Age/Toon Zone News sat down with screen writer Chris Yost via email to talk about his work on the film and offer a few glimpses to his other future projects.
Marvel Animation Age/Toon Zone News: How did you come to work on Next Avengers: Heroes Of Tomorrow?
CHRIS YOST: Writer Greg Johnson, who wrote the first four Marvel animated films, developed Next Avengers with Craig Kyle, but by the time it was ready to script, Greg was hip-deep into the currently airing Wolverine and the X-Men series. So I was luckily able to step in and lend a hand.
MAA/TZN: How did the concept of Next Avengers come together? Was it a case of wanting younger Avengers or showing what happened to the older ones?
YOST: The first four movies – Ultimate Avengers, Ultimate Avengers 2, Invincible Iron Man, and Dr. Strange – were geared more toward older audiences, and fans. So with the fifth movie, they wanted something for the younger audiences, something kid focused and PG rated.
Marvel’s got a history of ‘next generation’ Avengers properties, like Avengers Next and Young Avengers, but we decided to go with original characters, in part to make them even younger, and also to make them the actual children of the Avengers… to give them the legacy in name, spirit, and in their genes.
MAA/TZN: What made you decide which Avenger’s kids made the cut and how did you the figure out the logistics of them all?
YOST: Those decisions were made in the development phase, which I missed out on unfortunately. But part of the decision was to base them on the characters we saw in Ultimate Avengers 1 & 2, and while Next Avengers isn’t a direct sequel for obvious reasons, if you’re familiar with those films, you’d be familiar with those Avengers.
MAA/TZN: Other DTVs have seemingly been aimed at an adult demographic. Is it fair to say that the primary audience for this one is children and teens? What caused the shift?
YOST: It’s absolutely something for kids and teens… this is a movie that can hopefully bring in a new generation of Avengers and Marvel fans. Like I said earlier, Marvel had just done four movies for the older fans… this time, we went younger. The next movie, Hulk Vs. definitely skews much older, even moreso than Ultimate Avengers.
MAA/TZN: What made you decide to use Ultron as the villain?
YOST: The classic Avengers have a handful of marquee villains… Ultron is one of the best. Hugely powerful, evil, immortal (after a fashion), he also fit the bill for the futuristic setting.
MAA/TZN: Which character did you find was your favourite to write?
YOST: I personally leaned toward Hawkeye, but Pym was very easy to write. I like the jokes.
MAA/TZN: Flip question – which aspect of the feature did you find the most difficult to write?
YOST: Stark as a parent was a little tricky, because the Tony Stark we know and love is the farthest thing from a father figure. But it was fun to think about how he changed and evolved during his years with the kids. Like a boot camp for parenting. But you know he had to be a pretty fun and cool ‘dad’ at times.
MAA/TZN: You are perhaps better known for you comedic work, such as the criminally underrated Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes. Did working with the younger characters give you more of an incentive to go down the funny route or do you see this as an action piece?
YOST: I think kids lend themselves to humor, and finding the humor in some pretty tough circumstances. But for me, personally, action comedy is my thing. I love to blow something up and then have a good laugh about it.
MAA/TZN: What do you consider to be the advantages and disadvantages of working on a feature length project rather than a weekly television series? Which do you ultimately prefer?
YOST: Depending on the series, you can really develop characters over arcs. Some shows, like Fantastic Four, were designed to be ‘done-in-one’ series, where there are no overreaching arcs. Other shows choose to do more of a serial thing.
Doing the feature lengths is great, because you get to tell a bigger longer story in one shot… but for me, I always want more. I want the story to continue. So in that regard, I like the series better.
MAA/TZN: What do you consider the highlight of your career so far?
YOST: The fact that I have one. Seeing my name on screen for my first X-Men: Evolution was a pretty big thrill. Honestly, I know it sounds cliche, but to be involved with Marvel is a dream job. It’s a job, a hard job, but even the hard stuff is a joy.
MAA/TZN: Many fans have been sceptical about the release since it was initially announced. Any final comments to make them change their mind and pick up the release?
YOST: It’s the best reviewed Marvel DTV yet. You should have seen the audience at Comic-Con. Mostly adults. All cheering, laughing, gasping, and loving it. Scratch the earlier answer, that screening may have been the highlight of my career.
MAA: You’re serving as the story editor on Iron Man: Animated Adventures. What else can you tease us with before it debuts on Nicktoons in January?
YOST: It’s a big series, and like I was mentioning with the whole overreaching arcs… Iron Man: Armored Adventures has them. It’s definitely more serial in nature than Fantastic Four, and more like the X-Men: Evolution version of Iron Man. It’s young Tony Stark, but with the same high stakes and huge action that you’d expect from the adult version. A revamped rogues’ gallery, guest stars… and a lot of armor.
The Marvel Animation Age/Toon Zone News would like to thank Chris for once again taking the time to talk to us. Cheers Chris!