'Deadpool' Co-Creator Reveals Risque Gag Stan Lee Asked Him to Change in New Animated Series 'Cosmic Crusaders'

Fabian Nicieza wrote the series based on a concept by Lee.

Before Fabian Nicieza helped revolutionize comics as the co-creator of Deadpool, he was a 20-something kid who'd just landed a job at Marvel. One of his first assignments? Interviewing comics icon Stan Lee for a Marvel magazine — something that he admits terrified him at the time, but turned out well because Lee put him at ease.

Now, 30 years later, Nicieza and Lee have launched a project together, the new animated series, Stan Lee's Cosmic Crusaders. Lee voice stars in the series and conceived of the characters, seven aliens who crash land on Earth and must learn to become heroes.  

"We wanted PG-13 with just the needle pushing R just a little," says Nicieza of the series, which is aimed toward adults. "It was kind of the philosophy we were trying to take."

Lee gave copious notes for the project, which is is produced in partnership with The Hollywood Reporter and global brand management company Genius Brands International. One character, named Strong Arm, was initially naked throughout the premiere episode, but Lee requested that be changed.

"Stan's note was smart. It's better to save it as opposed to run through the whole thing. It turned out to be the bit at the end as opposed to an ongoing thing and it worked out much better as a result of that," says Nicieza.

Nicieza says they took inspiration from FX's Archer for Cosmic Crusaders, and the success of the Deadpool movie helped convince him an adult, comedic take on the superhero genre could be successful.

"Archer manages to make fun of the spy tropes and spy drama and also have spy-related stories," says Nicieza. "I said, 'Let's take a superhero show and do that,' and just based on how successfully they made the Deadpool movie, I was aware it could work. Let's take the tropes of being superheroes and turn it on its ear by making all the characters not what you expect your hero to be."

The first episode of Cosmic Crusaders debuted Tuesday on THR.com, with a new episode premiering every day through Friday at www.thr.com/cosmic.

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