A true comic book lover, Marc Guggenheim is the visionary genius behind some of your favorite DC shows. He wears many hats on set including writer, co-developer, and executive producer for shows like Arrow, Vixen, and Legends of Tomorrow. It is challenging to translate characters that are so beloved from book to screen, but Marc has stayed true to the original storytelling in a way that appeals to both new and old fans alike.
Our reporter, Sean Agard, had the amazing opportunity to talk with Marc last month at ACE Comic Con in Long Island about Marc’s current projects. The following interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity purposes.
Sean: I just wanted to start out by saying that I really loved the crossover. I really liked The Dominators, and I really think you stepped it up for this year.
Marc: Oh thank you! That was the goal. It’s a lot of work and if people don’t like it, then it’s not worthwhile.
Sean: I felt the quality, you could see the quality go up and you could see the effort put forth. You do deserve lots of praise.
Marc: Thank you!
Sean: *pointing to a Green Lantern comic* I just saw that movie last night!
Marc: Oh really?
ShaMya: I feel like there was a spike in interest with Taika Waititi directing Thor. Everyone was going back and trying to find him in the movie since it was before anyone really knew about him.
Sean: I’m not going to lie that’s what I did.
Marc: I tell ya, it just tickles me to no end to see that he’s become this amazing director and that he’s had such a great response to his movie. It’s awesome!
Sean: I really loved how he handled the Kirbyverse.
Marc: Oh yeah you can tell he’s a fan. You tell that he’s doing it for the love of the game, which I think is the key. I think if you have a filmmaker that isn’t into this stuff, it shows.
Sean: That’s very true. Is there anything that you can tell us about Freedom Fighters: The Ray because I’m really excited about that.
Marc: Oh yeah absolutely! Thanks.
Sean: I love Vixen!
Marc: Well I’ll tell ya, Vixen’s in it. Megalyn reprises her role as Mari, which is awesome. Well what can I tell you about it. Our goal, we went about it differently than we did Vixen. Like with Vixen we basically structured it as the way it would “air,” which is obviously it streams episodically and so we wrote it episodically. Then they recut it and put it all out as DVDs which was awesome and I was really glad, but when they came to me about The Ray I was like let’s not have the car drive the horse. Let’s learn from the Vixen experience and rather than retrofit it into a singular story on the B side, let’s start with a singular story and then divide it up into single episodes later. But if it’s ultimately going to live on DVD, then that’s what we should write towards. And DC and CW were cool with that, so that’s what we ended up doing. I was working on the script and there was a scene where we had a whole bunch of heroes and I was like well it would be great if we could include Vixen here if Megalyn’s willing to come back.
Sean: You also have Carlos Valdez too.
Marc: Yeah we have Carlos and we have Echo. It’s funny, they love doing it! They really enjoy the voice acting piece of it because it lets them stretch different muscles. I always enjoy putting Carlos and Echo’s characters together because they’re both these really smart, geeky guys.
Sean: I’m not going to lie, I was really hoping for a scene in the crossover between the two.
Marc: I know!
Sean: But again, I know that you can’t get everything in production.
Marc: Yeah it’s scheduling. A lot of times, we’ll write a scene with a certain number of characters then when we get into production and we start scheduling, we realize those actors can’t be together. So we’ll be like which character actually has to be in this scene and then who are the characters that can be swapped out with other characters. Sometimes you get some really interesting mix-ups and matchups, and other times you miss out on an opportunity that you wanted to have but couldn’t make it work because you’re making all these, quite frankly, Hobbesian choices a lot of the time. But that I definitely consider to be a quality problem type of thing because we’re getting the chance to do this cool thing.
Sean: Personally I want to say, I’ve heard a lot of your panels and listened to a lot of your interviews talking about how you wanted Tommy and The Dominators crossover.
Marc: So badly! That would have been so great.
Sean: I agree! I honestly think, and this is just my opinion, I think holding him back for that worked out. It gave it just that much more “umph” since you haven’t seen him in so long.
Marc: Yeah and I was glad we were able to keep that a secret for the most part because it’s hard to keep things secret and Colin is amazing. And by the way, his performance is amazing! When we were toning this with James Bamford the director, I said it’s scripted a certain way like his speech, but I want his turn of the he’s just pretending to be meek and mild but he’s really evil, I want to see that turn happen on camera. I want to see his face change. Normally you would do it in a cut, but I think Colin is a strong enough actor to do that.
Sean: And he did!
Marc: And it’s incredible, it’s one of my favorite moments.
Sean: For that, were they together when they filmed that scene?
Marc: Oh they were together. Yeah absolutely they were together. The set is such that it’s hard to connect the two on set together because of the way that the set is constructed, there’s no place to put the camera.
Sean: I asked because I thought the acting was phenomenal. I thought that if Stephen had to do that with nothing there, that would be even more incredible.
Marc: It wouldn’t surprise me if Stephen had to do that. He would totally be able to pull it off. He and Colin are extremely tight. They work really, really well together. Having Colin back with Stephen, it creates something truly special.
Sean: I couldn’t agree more! I watched season 1 of Vixen episodically and I personally felt that I would have enjoyed it more if I would have gotten it all at once like you did with the DVD. So I know with The Ray, 3 episodes just came out, then another 3 episodes coming out, would you recommend watching it episodically or wait until the DVD?
Marc: I feel bad saying it, but the truth is because it was conceived as one singular story the way that the Vixen series was ultimately released, yeah probably. I’m going to get in trouble for saying that!
ShaMya: But I feel like that’s how everything is going nowadays. People are consuming content all in one sitting and are immediately like okay what’s next! Even though it was months of work on your end.
Marc: That’s how I consume things. I pick a single season of something and I watch the whole season. I don’t really watch anything episodically. The only exception is Game of Thrones. That’s the only show that I watch, and a little bit of The Walking Dead if I’m able to keep up.
Sean: It is so hard!
Marc: It is so hard! There’s so much television!
Sean: Honestly, and I’m not just saying this because you’re here, the shows that I watch episodically are The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. Supergirl I binged.
Marc: I have no opinion or objection to the way that anyone watches, as long as they’re watching. I’m amazed that people are just watching. I’m still blown away that people watch the shows.