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On the Web Thu Mar 31 2011
In anticipation for the upcoming Thor movie, Marvel Knights Animation is releasing a four part viral miniseries called Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers, based off local Chicago scribe Robert Rodi's graphic novel. The first installment was launched on March 28th to iTunes, Xbox Live and PSN, with each additional installment following shortly thereafter. I had a chance to talk with producer Ruwan Jayatilleke about the genesis of the project and how one of comics' most infamous villains is simply misunderstood by his peers.
What led you to pick this particular Thor story to work with?
Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers found me. When I started at Marvel several years ago. Editor-in-chief Axel Alonso (Executive Editor then) dropped a bundle of books that he edited under the Marvel Knights banner. Within that bounty of outrageous nerdery was the gem created by Robert Rodi and Esad Ribic. And I just kept re-reading the story year after year and obsessing over how great it is.
When I got the green light to pursue an animated project to launch prior to the Marvel Studios feature film THOR, Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers came to my mind instantly. And from there, I hit the ground running with great support within Marvel and of course the animation team, voice casting and sound experts, music maestro, and mixing group brought it all together in four incredible episodes.
Were you a fan of Thor before this project?
I would say I am more a fan of the mythology and rich continuity of Thor and Asgard than of just a character within the Marvel universe. I am much more of a "story guy" than a fan of characters. Plus since I lean towards the baddies anyway. It has less to do with Thor and more to do with the obstacles and challenges that define and shape his story and his legend.
What do you find compelling about the character?
Again, what's compelling is the complexity of the stories that ensnare and mold Thor than just my "rooting" for him because he's the God of Thunder or an intergalactic otherworldly being. However I'll admit Mjolnir, his hammer, is a badass weapon of intergalactic proportions. And his ability to release "berserker rage" and go toe-to-toe with the biggest and baddest that the Marvel pantheon has to offer makes Thor appealing from just a sheer force of nature and violence aspect.
But again, it's all about story and context for me and character development than just visual flair or the "cool factor." Mindless violence only gets a wow from me when it's set in the context of great storytelling otherwise you become immune to it and the visual fireworks.
How do you feel about Loki?
He's the trickster god. God of mischief. What's not to love? He challenges heroes by not just fighting them but outthinking them. Using cunning and guile to achieve results. He's a thinking man's villain and possesses a subtle weapon -- a silver tongue. His cleverness and deceptiveness can cut apart the most powerful of foes and divide allies with ease. My own penchant for villainy gives me a certain amount of kinship with this atypical "bad guy."
Does Thor and Loki's father Odin factor into the story?
Odin plays a big part as the All Father. The warrior who slays Loki's father and brings Loki into Asgard as his adopted son. According to Loki, Odin is to bear much of the blame for everything that has cast Loki as being "the evil foil" to Thor. It's a very instrumental role that Odin plays in making things as they are, but I don't want to say more as it might give away or ruin parts of the story for those who have not read the original comic book miniseries in which Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers was first conceived.
What brands Marvel Knights Animation compared to main Marvel Animation projects? Are these separate entities or are they the same?
The content that we produce under the Marvel Knights Animation banner is sourced directly from the original comic books and amplified with animation, CGI, 3D modeling and texturing, special effects, voice acting, sound design and effects, and original music score to create a new way to experience the story. Marvel Knights Animation is mature-rated material that is not kid-appropriate.
Currently, the more traditional animation that Marvel TV produces like the current "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" animated series, and the future "Ultimate Spider-Man" animated series are for a kid/tween/young teen audience.
Each brand of animation is very much separate and different, as each has widely different target audiences, reasons for existing, methods of distribution, and worked on by different teams within Marvel.
If you had the chance, is there another Thor or Loki story you would want to tackle?
I do. There are a few.
The Thor from the Ultimate Universe, a separate continuity that Marvel produces apart from its main line of titles, intrigues me. I really love the take on him.
And as for Loki, the more wicked the story and his actions...the better. So I guess we'll see where my sinister proclivities take me and Marvel knights Animation. You were warned! Heh.
Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers episode one is available on iTunes, Xbox Live and PSN. Episode two debuts on April 6th with episodes three and four appearing on the 13th and 20th respectively.