When you get a chance to chat with someone like Marvel TV's executive vice president Jeph Loeb, you come armed with lots of questions. You ask about his company (or division)'s successes, you ask about where things went wrong, you ask about things you know are coming, and try to edge out any little plans you can muster.
And usually, you even ask a question or two that you're pretty sure isn't going to be answered. During a phone call with Loeb this week, I asked about the comedies rumored to be in development by Marvel TV, prefacing that I knew there probably wasn't much he could say about it...
"That would be nothing," Loeb interrupted with a chuckle. Luckily, over about a decade of conversations, we've learned how to dance around certain issues. Instead, what would make a comedy, specifically, enticing to Loeb and Marvel TV. You know... hypothetically?
"Look, without addressing whether or not we actually have anything in development, because Marvel security has surrounded the building, and I plan on trying to get home tonight," he started with a light air, referencing the long-standing joke that Marvel employs snipers to keep their secrets safe. "When you look at any Marvel property, our secret sauce has always been not so secret in that we believe that humor is part of it. It doesn't really matter how dark we get, and certainly people felt that Daredevil and Jessica Jones were darker than they had expected Marvel properties to go, there's still a great deal of humor in those shows.
"There are moments of levity that are in life that you need to bring to the table, or else it just becomes overwhelmingly oppressive."
He explained that humor is also important because of the fantastic nature of the stories they tell.
"We're bringing that a man can get bitten by a radioactive spider and then go out and swing across the skyscrapers of Manhattan, or that a blind superhero can actually, somehow, use his heightened senses in order to take down those that are opposed to abiding by the law," Loeb explained. " If you're going to have that as part of it, it's always a good idea to make sure that the audience is aware that, yeah, it's funny. It helps along the way in telling the story."
Loeb said their animated series, for instance, deal with more humor, as kids "really respond to that," but he's not ruling out the option of Marvel TV doing live-action comedy, either.
"If we were to explore half-hour comedies, we would keep in mind what's important about Marvel, which is that it needs to feel grounded and real, and at the same time that it has that kind of rebellious quality to it," he said. " Marvel has always been sort of the bad boy of the comic book universe. I don't think that's ever going to change. I think, to be perfectly honest about it, I think we're now the sort of, the bad people, not the bad boy," referring to their more concentrated focus on female stars.
So are Marvel TV comedies in development? Probably. But they don't want it to just be "a comedy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe," rather it should be a Marvel TV project that happens to be a comedy.