Invincible's Robert Kirkman previews the 'family drama' at heart of blood-splattered superhero series
The Boys won't be back in town on Amazon Prime Video for a while, but if you're looking for that vibe of superheroes-gone-bad, the streamer has more bloody punches to throw among comic-book titans with Invincible.
Unlike The Boys, which Invincible comic co-creator and series executive producer Robert Kirkman says is more about the fun of "tearing down superheroes," the charm of his eight-episode animated show "is that it's very much a family drama."
"It's about a son and his father and mother in this superhero world and all the complications that come from that," Kirkman tells EW. "It is grounded, but in principle, more than The Boys, it celebrates what makes superheroes special, in my opinion."
Kirkman and artist Cory Walker published the original comic book series in 2002 with publisher Skybound, and Kirkman says the show is a near-faithful adaptation of that story arc. Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) voices lead Mark Grayson, the teen son of the most powerful superhero on earth, the Superman-esque Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons). It looks like the standard origin story at first: Boy discovers powers, boy learns from his super-dad, boy takes on the world with those powers. Then things take a really dark turn, and this super-kid's life becomes more unforgiving than high school bullies (which he also deals with).
With the comics, Kirkman says, "The idea was basically to take everything we had ever loved about the superhero genre and put it into one series. We wanted to construct a world that was so broad that, over the course of the life of the series, we could tell basically every type of superhero story that had been told and put our own spin on it."
"Sometimes it's a horror series," he adds, given some of the more gruesome moments in the comics and subsequently the show. "Sometimes it's a drama," like the focus on Mark's relationship with his dad. "Sometimes it's straight-up science-fiction," like with alien invasion sub-plots. At the same time, Kirkman emphasizes, "It's all done in a grounded, human way."
The comics came to an end in early 2018, but Kirkman mentions "there have always been discussions at many different levels" about continuing Invincible as a screen adaptation. He's still developing the story as a live-action movie with writer-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and now the animated show, which remains separate from that film, arrives on Amazon Prime Video this March 26.
Among the cast packed with well-known actors, there's Sandra Oh voicing Mark's mom, Mark Hamill as superhero tailor Art, Rogen as Allen the Alien, Walton Goggins as government liaison Cecil Stedman, Lauren Cohan as Wonder Woman-esque War Woman, and many more.
Kirkman promises there are still surprises for those who have closely followed the comics, including expanded arcs for certain characters, like Zazie Beetz's Amber Bennett and Oh's Debra Grayson. "As you go deeper into the season, there are a lot of storylines from much later in the comic that get moved up into this season because thematically they fit better and it seemed like the right time for Mark to be engaging in these conflicts concurrently with what was going on with his father," Kirkman explains. "But, for the most part, the core aspects of the comic book are still present [on the show]."
A version of this story appears in the March issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now and available here. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.