‘Invincible’ Creator Robert Kirkman on That Spider-Man Cameo, Recasting Ezra Miller and Splitting Season 2 Complaints: ‘I Understand’ It Was ‘Not the Best’

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the Season 2 finale of “Invincible,” now streaming on Prime Video, plus light spoilers for upcoming storylines in the “Invincible” comic.

Just shy of three years after the Season 1 finale of “Invincible” streamed on Prime Video, the final episode of Season 2 has arrived at long last — and there was just as much bloody, superhero action.

More from Variety

In “I Thought You Were Stronger,” the finale to Season 2 Part 2, Mark/Invincible (Steven Yeun) rushes home after the multiverse-traveling villain Angstrom Levy (Sterling K. Brown) kidnaps his mom Debbie (Sandra Oh) and baby alien half-brother Oliver. At first, it seems like the vengeful villain has the upper hand. Every time Mark flies toward him, Angstrom opens up a portal and strands Mark in a different dimension.

The battle leads to some eye-catching, alternate-universe cameos. In one callback to the original “Invincible” comic, Mark crashes into a web-slinging superhero named Agent Spider who’s fighting a tentacled villain called Omnipotus — a clear parody of Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus. Actor Josh Keaton, who has voiced Spidey in “The Spectacular Spider-Man” and other shows, even cameos as Agent Spider. In two more scenes, Mark talks to a cape-wearing, bat-themed superhero off camera (hello, Batman!) and runs across some talking zombies (an homage to “The Walking Dead,” also from “Invincible” creator Robert Kirkman). Even a gun from the popular video game “Fortnite” appears, several months after it featured a crossover with several “Invincible” characters.

Before Mark can land a blow on Angstrom, the villain brutally attacks Debbie. This infuriates Mark and he grabs hold of Angstrom, fighting him as they’re launched into various dimensions. The two land in an empty, desert-covered world and Mark seemingly kills Angstrom — but the villain has escaped death before. Stranded with no way back home, Mark is left alone to think about his actions. Before all hope of returning is lost, a future-version of the Guardians of the Globe teleport in and saves him. Just as Mark leaves, this alternate Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs) confesses that she loves him but had never told him.

Back on Earth, Debbie and Oliver are saved. Mark reunites with Eve, but they stop short of sharing any feelings for each other. In the far reaches of space, Mark’s father Nolan/Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons) is still imprisoned by the Viltrumites, his evil alien species, and sees a familiar inmate: Allen the Alien (Seth Rogen). The two hatch an escape plan, and Mark realizes that he misses Debbie — after calling his wife a “pet” in the Season 1 finale.

With Variety, creator Kirkman explains how those Marvel and DC cameos came to be, recasting Ezra Miller’s voice role from Season 1, what to expect in Season 3 and more.

Let’s start with all those multiverse cameos. How did you get Josh Keaton back to voice this alternate Spider-Man?

It was just trying to figure out a way to keep that moment somewhat intact from the comics. It seemed like something that would be a fun and surprising way to do it. Amazon legal, painstakingly, was like, “No, the costume can’t be that color. We gotta get away from this and that.” There were a lot of eyes on that scene. We wanted to find an actor who had done Spider-Man before. [Supervising director] Dan Duncan came in immediately and was like, “Josh Keaton needs to do it. ‘Spectacular Spider Man’ is a great series.” He had worked on it and said Josh was great. He seemed like the best possible choice because it’s animation to animation. It seemed like it would be a fun thing. That said, he’s not playing Spider-Man. That’s Agent Spider. There might be some similarities, but I think Josh’s nuanced performance as Agent Spider is completely different than the way he played Spider-Man in “Spectacular Spider-Man.” But who knows? My opinion may be somewhat biased.

Were you on the phone with Marvel lawyers about what you could and couldn’t do?

No, I mean, I’m pretty sure Marvel found out about it today. So, we didn’t call any Marvel lawyers or anything. No, that was Amazon’s legal department’s job to make sure that Marvel didn’t need to know.

Onto the DC side, did you have to reach out to them about putting Batman in the finale?

Listen, I think that sequence might seem to imply a certain thing that isn’t there. That’s not Gotham City. That’s not Batman. That’s a completely different bat character that Mark is referring to. If the audience is inferring a certain thing from it, I don’t have control over that. The audience gets to take from it what they will, but it was never our intention to imply anything remotely close to the Batman character.

I’ll take your word for it! What about the zombies? Were there any specific walkers from “The Walking Dead” that you wanted to put in?

These zombies that are in the “Invincible” show are talking. They have nothing to do — they’re completely different. No, no references whatsoever. Not the answers you’re looking for!

Ok, last one: How did you get the “Fortnite” sniper rifle into Mark’s hands?

That was all done in cooperation with Epic Games, and it’s the actual model for the Dragon’s Breath sniper rifle. That was all referenced and approved and seemed like a fun nod since he’s in the “Fortnite” game. Maybe Angstrom sent him there and everything in the game is canon and he’s coming out with a gun. That seemed like a fun, official Easter egg we could do. I was writing the episode, or was about to start writing the episode, when I had my initial talks with Donald Mustard, who was the creative lead on “Fortnite” but has since left the company. He was really on board to do something in the show that references it and help push it through on their side. It was kind of an organic thing that happened because we were talking about Invincible being in the game at the same time as I was writing the episode.

Looking ahead to Season 3, will we see Oliver age up more quickly, due to his Thraxan blood, like he does in the comics?

Yeah, you can definitely expect that character to age rapidly the way he did in the comics. Where we begin Season 3, at what stage he’s at, that can remain a mystery. But we’ll definitely see different versions of him along the way.

There are two major Viltrumite characters in the comics that must be appearing in the show soon: Conquest and Thragg. Do you have actors in mind for those roles yet?

I’ll say, without saying who it is, that one of those two characters has already been cast.

Where will we see Mark and Eve’s relationship grow in Season 3?

What you see at the end of Season 2 is kind of the first beginnings of an evolution of their relationship. That’s the story that is really going to be one of the core aspects of Season 3: what their relationship is, where it goes, how it changes and evolves. Whether they’re together or not, officially, remains to be seen. But there’s definitely a lot going on with Mark and Eve that will continue into Season 3 and hopefully beyond.

What about Nolan and Debbie’s relationship? We see Nolan admit that he misses his wife, but will he ever be truly redeemed after all the death and destruction he’s caused?

Those sequences, when we adapted them from the comics in Season 1, were heightened substantially. So I think the show is going to have a lot harder time doing anything close to a redemption with Nolan than we had with the comics. This moment where he’s realizing that he actually cares for Debbie and is legitimately missing her is kind of the beginnings of seeing who Nolan’s true character is. I don’t think it’s a change in his character. If you go back and you rewatch the first two seasons, knowing that moment, you’ll see things, especially when we first see him in Episode 4 of Season 2 and follow him from Earth to Thrax and we see what he’s going through, you kind of get a hint that there’s a lot more to him. There was a lot more going on with him internally during those moments at the end of Season 1. Exploring his character is something we’re going to be doing for the duration of the show.

With Angstrom seemingly gone for now, who are the primary antagonists going forward?

The Viltrumites as a whole, especially over the course of Season 2 with Kregg’s directive to Mark and Anissa’s interaction with him and the hints at more to come, have pretty much established themselves as the major threat to this show. There will always be other villains, like Angstrom Levy, that pop up and maybe become the main antagonist for a season or two, but the undercurrent in the show is always going to be what’s going on with the Viltrumite threat.

Looking back at the first two seasons, what have you learned going into Season 3?

That everyone loves split seasons! Thankfully, we worked on Season 2 and Season 3 concurrently. I guess, unfortunately, we’re too far along on Season 3 to learn anything from from Season 2, but I think we’re picking up some things on how best to adapt this show. We’re learning different things on the animation side that work and don’t work that will continue to improve the show. I’m very happy with the show. I am loving how it’s turning out. I feel very strongly that Season 2 is better than Season 1, Season 3 will be better than Season 2. If we’re fortunate enough to continue, I hope that we’ll be able to continue improving the show until the final season is just a perfect product that has no flaws in it whatsoever.

What has the reaction to splitting Season 2 into two parts been like from fans?

I’ve certainly heard from people who didn’t care for it. I understand that when you’re enjoying a thing and it gets taken away and given back to you at a later date — not the best. But it was a necessity for the production of Season 2. Overall, I think it went well. The response to the last half of Season 2 has very much been, “Wish there hadn’t been a split, love the last half of Season 2.” We’re still hitting number one on the Amazon platform. I don’t think it caused any real, lasting detriment to the show. But, you live and learn so we’ll have to see how things go moving forward.

Are there any characters or storylines you’re most excited for people to see in Season 3?

I don’t want to reveal exactly what we’re doing. There’s a lot of great stuff with Cecil Stedman. We get to see a little bit of his backstory and get to know a little bit more about him as a person. The relationship between Mark and Eve is evolving in some really exciting way. It was very important to us in Season 2 to show that this is the Mark Grayson-Invincible show; it’s not the Omni-Man show. Omni-Man was very present in Season 2 and he’s a really big part of the show, but I worried a little bit coming out of Season 1 that people were like, “Oh, I love that Omni-Man guy. I want to see more Omni-Man.” So we took a little bit of a pause on Omni-Man for Season 2. He’s gonna be in Season 3 a little more.

Speaking of Cecil, his story is intertwined with D.A. Sinclair, who was voiced by Ezra Miller in Season 1 and recast in Season 2. What was the decision behind the recasting?

Like we saw with the Rick Sheridan role that was played by Jonathan Groff in Season 1 and Luke Macfarlane in Season 2 and similar to “Game of Thrones” when you have a cast that’s this large and you’re recording in different times, sometimes availabilities are going to shift and recasting is going to be necessary. I think it’s going to be something that’s going to happen from time to time with this show. I think that Eric Bauza is an immense talent and I am loving working with him, it’s a real opportunity to work with somebody that is so experienced in animation and has the skills and wealth of experience that he has. And I hope that Warner Bros. figures out a way to release the “Coyote vs. Acme” movie.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.