Brian Michael Bendis: ‘There’s too much focus on Spider-Man and not enough on Peter Parker’

The creative mind behind Powers also tells us what he thought of Batman vs Superman

What next for Spiderman? Brian Michael Bendis has a few ideas

If there is one thing long-time Marvel creative Brian Michael Bendis is looking forward to about the arrival of Powers on UK TV is that he may finally get some peace on Twitter.

“I am excited to see it come out in the UK because people from England won’t be yelling at me about not being able to watch it,” he tells loaded. It tells the story of a one-time superhero, played by Sharlto Copley, who loses his powers and must reconfigure his life as a detective in a world full of caped crusaders.

Powers follows in the footsteps of shows like Jessica Jones and Daredevil – with both incarnations carrying more than a little of Bendis’ influence given that he created the former and wrote for the latter.

Coming in the wake of the third big screen incarnation of Spider-man and with memories of Batman and Superman still fresh in the mind, he spoke to Loaded about all things Marvel, DC and beyond.

loaded: What inspired you to write Powers?

Bendis: I was involved in a lot of crime comics at the time, which meant I would be doing a lot of research and ride-alongs with the police. The more research I did, which included reading David Simon’s excellent book Homicide, the more the idea came to me: what if this kind of thing took place in a world where superheroes existed. From there we were able to flesh out this world.

loaded: Powers has been a few years in the making – do you feel like you had to wait to do it right and the way you wanted to do it?

Bendis: We were lucky. Sony happened to like the concept and optioned the comic for a film and in the years it took to develop it, we kept on making the comic. That meant we were able to figure out the characters and mythology of the series so that by the time the movie idea had petered out, the comic had revealed itself to be closer to a television show.

It never fit into the mould of a movie or a network show but when these streaming services came along it suddenly felt right. Technology caught up to us. Books like Powers and the Walking Dead and Jessica Jones are also supposed to be something different for comic book fans.

A watered down, network version of Powers or Jessica Jones would not have been a good idea.

Bendis (far left) and the cast of Powers
Bendis (far left) and the cast of Powers Image Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Image

loaded: How important was the casting of Sharlto Copley?

Bendis: What we were looking for was a unique energy and presence. Someone who, just his or her involvement in the show, grabs your attention and we got that with Sharlto.

Sharlto plays this guy who used to be a superhero but is now reinventing himself as a police officer and is trying to discover his humanity. We needed the right person to do that. It’s like Robert Downey Jr and Iron Man – you never doubted for a second that he would play this character who put on this suit of armour. There is an energy is almost hard to describe.

When you see Sharlto on screen you see how he completely nails every aspect of his character. We also had a great cast – Eddie Izzard, Noah Taylor, Susan Heyward and all these great actors who were pieces of the puzzle of this show that just made you think ‘I would watch this.’ Any show where Sharlto and Eddie Izzard are going to go at it – I am all in!  


loaded: What do you think of the latest big screen incarnation of Spider-man in Captain America: Civil War?

Bendis: I loved it. Mind you, I did consult on the movie and was told directly that it was based on a lot of the work that I had done. Kevin Feige told me years ago that they would be going for the spirit of what I did with the character.

But, when you then see it and it is so immensely winning, you can’t help but be flattered by it. The writers did a great job and when you look at it from a storytelling point of view, there are a lot of pieces and they land a lot of them. I saw the movie with a lot of friends who work in comics and we are quite the jaded crew so to be in the audience and hear people applauding everything the character said and did was a great feeling.

loaded: What would you like to see them do with Spider-man next?

Bendis: Previous filmmakers focused too much on Spider-man and not enough on Peter Parker.

What I have learned from my many years writing that character is that you need to write Peter Parker honestly. You should be in a position where you can go whole patches without him putting on the costume and no one notices.

I used to go whole issues without him putting on the costume. I learned with all these superheroes that the costume stuff becomes organic provided you do the character work. The worst thing to do is just have a character that puts the costume on straight away and starts smashing things around. You have to earn it.


loaded: What did you think of Batman vs Superman?

Bendis: Everything they did right in Captain America they seemed to do wrong in Batman vs Superman. Batman vs Superman is supposed to be hope vs pessimism, light vs dark, but if both characters are dark then that just does not work.

I do not take any pleasure in ripping the movie apart – some do – but I don’t and I pray to Jesus that Justice League is good. It comes back to why we do Powers and Jessica Jones the way we do – character has to come first. People are tuned into the honesty of storytelling and they know bullshit when they see it.

Powers is on Spike at 9pm every Friday.

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