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An Interview With Christopher Yost

Christopher Yost began his career at Marvel Comics' West Coast office as an intern. He was hired Yost to write episodes of the TV series X-Men: Evolution, and he and his frequent writing partner Craig Kyle wrote the episode that introduced X23, the female clone of Wolverine. They jumped to comics with the six-issue limited series X-23: Innocence Lost, and from there went on to write the New X-Men title, beginning with #20. A slew of comics and TV shows followed that explosove beginning, with Yost writing for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Batman. He was the story editor and head writer on the Fantastic Four and Iron Man: Armored Adventures. He is currently the head writer of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.  He has kindly consented to answer a few questions for us about the show!

Given your background at Marvel as predominantly connected to the X-franchise, can you tell us what kind of affinity you have for the Avengers? Your history of reading/working with these characters (does Next Avengers - which I loved, btw - count)?   Favorite Avengers comics stories, creators, etc.?

YOST:  I've done a lot of work in the X-universe, it's true, but my very first love was Spider-Man in all honesty.  I read Spider-Man, Avengers, FF... I read it all EXCEPT X-Men until about 1984 when I read "Secret Wars."  At that point, I jumped into X-Men.  But the Avengers to me were always the big guns of the Marvel Universe.  They're the ones you call when you need the world saved.  It's as simple as that.  I love the Stan and Jack days, the Perez days, the Busiek days, and I love the Bendis days... I love it all.  I was there for West Coast Avengers, Solo Avengers, Avengers Unlimited... Avengers Forever blew me away.  Emperor Doom, Revenge of the Living Monolith... Byrne's stuff... I love it all.  And now I get to play with it ALL. :)

What exactly does a Head Writer do on a series such as this?

YOST:  I'm responsible for every aspect of writing for the show, from developing the series with Supervising Producer Josh Fine and Supervising Director Ciro Nielli to writing episodes, and hiring the writing staff/freelance writers.  It's my job to make sure the overall storyline works, to make sure each episode's story stands on its own while progressing both the characters and the over all story, and to make sure the characters are IN character.  To make sure every episode feels like an episode of the Avengers.

I have heard an unconfirmed rumor that Disney has approved 52 episodes; is that two seasons of 26 episodes each?  Assuming the rumor is true, does knowing you have 52 episodes change the nature of blocking out the pace of the series?

YOST:  I think 52 episode were approved BEFORE Disney was officially in, but I could be wrong there.  The series was in production, being wholly produced by Marvel, before the sale.  And for sure, knowing you've got a season two gives you a lot more freedom with setting up storylines.  Some of what you're seeing in the show right now won't pay off until season two, and that's a luxury.


How did you select the team roster?  Was there any pressure/directives to tie in closely - if at all - to the live-action movies?  How large is the team roster likely to get?

YOST:  Well, we were pretty sure we wanted Iron Man, Cap, and Thor regardless of the live action movies... they're the big three.  They're a large part of what makes an Avengers team FEEL like the Avengers.  SInce that was a given for Josh and I, there was really no pressure otherwise.  Then it became favorites.  The team will get smaller, then bigger, then smaller, then bigger. 

What other cartoons/animated features are serving as the biggest influence on the show, or at least what other cartoons present any kind of template they're attempting to emulate?  Is it going to be an episodic show, a serialized show, etc.?  What other cartoons do they think do what they want to do really well?

YOST:  It's not hard for me to say that Justice League set the bar for this kind of show.  It was amazing, and I enjoyed it greatly.  But Marvel has a different feel, and hopefully our show will be reflective of that.  Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is a combination of episodic and serialized, with stand alone episodes here and there, and 'mythology' episodes throughout, usually at the beginning and end of the season.  We'll do some 2 parters, some 3 parters... but each of those should be able to be enjoyed if you're walking in cold as well.

What were the reasons behind some of the creative choices they made where animated-Avengers history seems to differ from comics-Avengers history and maybe from movie-Avengers history. For example: 
   * The Red Skull rather than Zemo was responsible for Bucky's death, yet Zemo is still mentioned in the same storyline.
   * Ultron is now the creation of Pym and Stark, not Stark alone; this has some implications re guilt and responsibility

YOST:  You'll have to wait and see on both Ultron and Skull... there are reasons for the changes, but they're all part of the story.  You'll be seeing Ultron before the Red Skull, though.  I will say that we didn't have any knowledge of the Thor, Cap or Avengers live action movies as we wrote the first 26 episodes.  

Care to say a few words about the Mutant Response Division - the "Marties" - as they are in charge of mutant threats.  How big a role will mutants play going forward? 

YOST:  Mutants will get mentioned here and there, they exist in the show, but our focus is going to be on the Avengers first and foremost.

In the Captain America - focused newsreel, its clear that in many ways, Hydra has replaced the Nazis as the main threat to Europe in the 1940s.  Do the Nazis exist in this world?  Are the Axis powers now Hydra, Japan, and Italy?

YOST:  Yes, Nazis exist in this world.  Hydra is a branch of the Nazis.  The Axis powers are Germany, Japan and Italy.  Hydra was the focus of Cap's activities, though, as well as the Howling Commandos... and thus they were our focus.

And that wraps up our short - but sweet - chat with Christopher Yost, with our gratitude!