Marvel's Jeph Loeb talks the importance of story and those unexpected twists

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Dec 18, 2018, 11:00 PM EST (Updated)

Head of Television for Marvel Jeph Loeb recently sat down with Comic Book Resources to discuss all things Marvel — including the Marvel Cinematic Universe — in a cool and insightful interview. Loeb oversees the TV side of the MCU and is responsible for both Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter on ABC, and will also overlook Netflix’s upcoming comic-book series A.K.A. Jessica Jones and The Defenders. Basically, he’s the Kevin Feige of Marvel's TV side.

In said interview, Loeb stressed the importance of story and those unexpected twists that drive a good narrative forward, among other interesting things. And when asked about the fact that the Inhumans got to be introduced on TV first with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. rather than in a Marvel flick, Loeb explained that they’re sort of one and the same in Marvel’s overall scheme of things:

“Well, I think when people look at Marvel, they very often -- largely because it has had such a tremendous global impact -- see us as this gigantic octopus that's going to devour the universe. (By the way, we are!) But we are, in fact, a very small company, and so my involvement in the television division and the animation division is matched to Kevin Feige andLouis D'Esposito, who's in the motion picture division, the publishing division, where we have such incredibly talented people like Alan Fine and Dan Buckley and Joe Quesada in New York -- we're sharing all the time. We don't think of it as we're introducing something in one place or another place.

In the same kind of way, I'm incredibly excited by the idea that S.H.I.E.L.D. was born out of a character that was played so wonderfully by Clark Gregg in the first "Iron Man" movie would at some point inspire a television series about the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. That's a long thread to carry, and we are absolutely introducing elements of things and getting people to understand how someone could be transformed, and if they can, become more comfortable with that idea. And to the Marvel fan audience, it's thrilling because they know where that's going. Fantastic.

But at the end of the day, what's more important to me is, do we care about Skye and Raina and what happened at the end of the winter finale, and what will happen to them? What else happens? That's the adventure. Whether or not things are called whatever they're called or however they're going to be introduced, that's the journey.

And so, what I can say is, as it is with every story that we tell, there is a tremendous responsibility, but that responsibility in many ways is to the audience, for us to be able to tell the best story that we can and hope that they get excited by it.”

Loeb then went on to explain that big, twisty game-changing moments are important when you tell a story, even though “change is terrifying.”

“As a storyteller and as a producer of what we're hoping is exciting television, it is terrifying to see what's going to happen, in terms of what our audience is going to do. But it is absolutely integral and important when you are telling a Marvel story that your audience never feels like they know what's coming and should constantly be getting caught off-guard, constantly having surprises, constantly being involved in a way that blows your mind, so that you want to come back next week, and that you want to watch the show live.”

He also specifically discussed the role and importance of Agent Carter in the overall MCU, and the fact that the show has allowed Marvel to tell a story that’s in between the stories that we already know because of the movies:

“Agent Carter" has allowed Marvel to tell stories fans could only imagine after seeing Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter in "Captain America: The First Avenger"

At the beginning of discussions about it, it really started with, if you were emotionally moved by what happened at the end of "Captain America: The First Avenger," and as captivated as we were by Hayley Atwell, the question that you asked was, what happened next? And then you got teased a little bit in "The Winter Soldier," in that you see her as an elderly woman. She didn't die -- 70 years went by. That's an awful lot of stories that you can fit in there.

One of the things that's a great deal of fun -- and this is something that I've always responded to as a storyteller -- is telling the stories that are in-between the pages of the stories that you already know. For us, it was an opportunity to tell the origins of S.H.I.E.L.D., to tell the origins of Peggy Carter and what happened in her world. And then, it was a much larger agenda, which was, how do we tell a story that has a character at the center of it that is fun and smart and kicks ass and is sexy -- and at the same time feels extremely contemporary, even though it takes place in 1946? That it has a timeless quality to it; that the issues that are involved are issues that are still important to us today; that how she feels in the work place has not been diminished?

You see stories about it every single day -- and again, there's that interconnectivity we've been talking a lot about, which is that the world is talking to each other, all the time. We're not making shows just for the American audience. We're making stories for the world, now, and the concept of a woman's right to work, a woman's place at work, a woman's role in terms of who she is and how she's perceived and how men deal with that, it's a global concept. That's where we started.”

What do you guys think of Jeph Loeb’s comments about the importance of telling a good story, and of those big, game-changing moments?

(via Comic Book Resources)