Marvel Boss Explains Why Comic Book TV Shows, Movies Resonate

Plus will there be crossovers with 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' and 'Agents of SHIELD'?
ABC/Kelsey McNeal

ABC trotted out seven executive producers from Marvel and its midseason "bridge" show Agent Carter on Wednesday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour where few in the room had Level 7 clearance required to learn some of the universe's biggest questions.

Exec producers including Marvel head of television Jeph Loeb laid out the broad strokes of the Marvel universe and offered a logical and somewhat broad explanation about just why Marvel's feature films and TV series, including Agents of SHIELD, connect so much with audiences.

Read more 'Agent Carter' Showrunners Grilled By 'Arrow' Producer in Honest, Wide-Ranging Interview

"What we try to do in all our stories is hit three basic areas," Loeb told reporters. "We like to have our heroes come from a place that is very empathetic, and at same [time] are very aspirational. Both the writers creating those characters and characters themselves … every single one of them has that unique thing that the audience wants: You like them and they also have an entry point for them."

Loeb, who declined to provide a legitimate answer about how what his company does is different than what DC Comics and its entertainment arm (both in film and TV with Arrow, The Flash and Gotham, among others), stressed that Marvel is "about hope."

"At the end of every episode … you have a feeling that this is going to turn out OK," he said, noting that the third key was Marvel's special "secret sauce" of levity and humor. "That kind of thing, when you look at this cast, able to play drama and comedy, that's really where people respond," he said.  

Agent Carter marks Marvel's first female-fronted TV series. Hayley Atwell reprises her role as Peggy Carter in the period drama that takes place in the 1940s, a year after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger. It follows Peggy as she builds her career as a secret agent while the hero is frozen in ice. James D'Arcy portrays Edwin Jarvis, while Enver Gjokaj is Agent Daniel Sousa, Chad Michael Murray is Agent Jack Thompson and Lyndsy Fonseca plays spy Angie Martinelli. Dominic Cooper reprises his role as Howard Stark, debuting the upcoming fourth episode. Longtime writing partners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters (ABC's Resurrection) serve as showrunners.

While critics screened a clip of Cooper's return to the series, the panel kept some of Marvel's biggest secrets under wraps.

Will there be a crossover with Avengers: Age of Ultron? "We should stay present with the show," Loeb said of keeping his focus on Agent Carter.

What about a crossover with ABC's Agents of SHIELD? "As we like to say, #ItsAllConnected," he said pointing to Marvel's long-running hashtag.

As for the show's ratings — week two was off four-tenths of a point to a 1.5 in the key adults 18-49 demographic — producers stressed that the series remains strong in delayed viewing and on digital platforms including Hulu.

While the series is intended to be a short-order run with eight episodes, Butters said the season finale would leave the Marvel universe "atwitter"

Agent Carter airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC. 

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