Invincible Producer Simon Racioppa discusses the voice cast additions, Omni-Man in Mortal Kombat, splitting season 2, and more, in this exclusive interview.
Invincible season 2 part 1 includes four episodes, with the first coming to Prime Video on November 3rd, with new episodes dropping weekly. Still reeling from Nolan’s betrayal in Season One, Mark struggles to rebuild his life as he faces a host of new threats, all while battling his greatest fear – that he might become his father without even knowing it.
We caught up with Invincible Producer Simon Racioppa to talk about season 2. He reveals how it felt to see the fans’ reactions to the first season, and what the process is like for adapting the comics. Simon also gushes over the incredible new voices that have joined the cast, and admits how fun it is to come up with places to put the Invincible title shot.
Simon Racioppa Talks Invincible Season 2
Mama’s Geeky: Fans everywhere really responded to this series. What was it like seeing such a positive response to Invincible season 1?
Simon Racioppa: It was great. It was amazing. I was hoping we were making a good show, but sometimes you get your head so into it. But you don’t know, at the end of the day, obviously everybody’s trying to make the best possible show we can. But when you’re watching an episode for the thirtieth time, or when I’m making it, I’m like, I hope it’s good. I don’t know anymore. Because I’ve seen all the dialogue over and over again, so you lose a little bit of context.
So you never know before you’ve released the show how it’s gonna be responded to. I was hoping that we would have a great small audience of comic book fans and geeks, that we’d be this cool, niche show, and it kind of exploded much bigger than that, which took everybody by surprise. So it’s wonderful. I just love the fact that people enjoy the show, that people connect with the characters and the emotions we’re trying to get across.
That means the world to me, because we’re doing this for an audience, and when we get that kind of response back, it’s the best feeling in the world. And also, it lets us do it again, and lets us do convinces Amazon that okay, this is great. The show’s going on. You get another season. If you don’t have an audience, you don’t get more seasons. So just as long as we get to keep on making it that will be the best thing ever for me.
Mama’s Geeky: What’s it like deciding how to adapt the comic?
Simon Racioppa: Yeah, so what usually happens is, I go to Roberts house, and we spent a couple days early on, and we have the books with us. We have we both read them multiple, multiple times. And we sit down and we start being like, Okay, well we know where the season starts, because the book is sequential. So we’re starting about here, you read through the books, and we both have ideas, we’re like, this feels like a natural place to wrap a season up. There’s dramatic ebbs and flows through the material, and big events that happen, that feel like they want to be naturally either in a mid season place, or the end of a season or the start of a season.
So we find those spots and then you have the start of the season, you have the anchor at the end of the season. And then we have fifteen issues, twenty issues, whatever number of issues in between that. We then start to place things in the different episodes, because we know we’re doing eight hours. So we know episode one is going to be the start, it’s going to cover this material, the last episode is going to cover this material, we start to place things and sometimes you move things around. What you thought was going to be in the middle of the season. Actually, you know what, that works better an episode further, an episode later, or an episode earlier, and we start to rough it together.
You’re moving somewhere, it just takes a couple days of doing this, and then we have a rough shape for the season. That’s what we take into the writers room for the show, and all of our writing team helps us flesh it out even further. So that’s the process. That’s how we do it. Every show does it a little differently. But that’s what works for us.
Mama’s Geeky: What was the thought process behind splitting Invincible Season 2 in to 2 parts?
Simon Racioppa: There were multiple reasons to split the season. Lots of different reasons. It was a discussion between us and Amazon with Robert and everybody at Skybound talking about it that it just felt like, due to lots of constraints about how the show is getting made, and COVID, and everything else, that splitting it would lead to the best experience for the audience. Because ultimately that’s what we care about, is how can we get the show to the audience in the best possible way?
We don’t want to compromise quality. We don’t rush things, but at the same time we don’t want to make people wait longer than they have to. So a while back we decided that, you know what, why don’t we just split it in two. Other shows have done it. I think The Witcher did that too. They split the season. I think going forward, the idea is we’re going to give you the full season, not to binge, I really prefer the weekly release myself. But you won’t have to wait. The plan isn’t to split every season.
Mama’s Geeky: I mean, we did wait a very long time.
Simon Racioppa: I know trust me, I feel the same way. I’m like is this ever coming out? Oh my god you’re working on it for so long.
Mama’s Geeky: There’s so many new new voices this season. Were there any that you were super excited to get?
Simon Racioppa: All of them are incredible. Our cast is a dream. Everybody’s incredible. Everyone’s lovely. Everyone’s great to work with and gives us all they have in the booth. I can’t say enough good things about our cast, and I hope the strike resolved soon. I support them 100% on the SAG strike. So I hope that works out. They get it resolved well for them.
Without popping too many people out, I just can’t wait for people to see what Sterling K. Brown brings to the show as Angstrom. I only pop him out, obviously because he’s a big villain, a big new character, across the season that you’re going to see. I can’t wait because I’ve enjoyed it now for a while and I want other people to enjoy his performance in the show. I think they’re gonna find it amazing. But also Ben Schwartz is incredible, Jay Pharoah is incredible. Everyone’s incredible. I’m not picking a favorite. Everyone’s amazing.
Mama’s Geeky: How did you feel when they brought Omni-Man into Mortal Kombat?
Simon Racioppa: Oh my god, it’s incredible. Are you kidding? That trailer they cut is phenomenal. For us, what we try to deliver for the fans is like, we want to show you guys that we love this material as much as our audience does. So if you’re a big superhero fan, so are we. And we want to respect that.
It felt like that was the same relationship with Neatherealm and the Mortal Kombat team, because they took so many moves from the show. They obviously took inspiration from the show. He grabs him by the spine in one of the shots just like how Omni-Man does to Donald in the show, and then the subway train, and it looks great.
Their Omni-Man is awesome. And the sound. And obviously JK came back to do the voice. So to me, it was a delight. It was like Christmas in October, or whatever. Those guys did such a fantastic job. I’m so happy. I can’t wait to play it as him.
Mama’s Geeky: One of the things I love so much about this show is it really pushes the envelope with gore. And now, they talk about sex this season. What is it like finding the balance to not go too far, but to give the fans what they want?
Simon Racioppa: Again, I think we just try not to be gratuitous about it. Right? Like, we talk about sex, we have sex scenes, and stuff like that because that’s naturally what would happen in that scenario. That’s where the characters are going, and it’s the same way for our violence, right?
If you have two incredibly super powered individuals fighting in a city, there’s gonna be blood, there’s gonna be violence, people are gonna die. We just show you the repercussions, the ramifications, of having superpowers in a grounded world. We do plus it a little bit, we give you a little more blood and make things a little extra, for fun, for entertainment value, but it’s not… I can promise you we never sit down and be like, Okay, we need some big gory event here. That never happens.
We’re more like, Okay, well, this is the part where there’s a huge fight here between Mark and this other character, and they’re both super strong, and it’s happening in a petting zoo. Obviously, there’s going to be destroyed animals everywhere. It’s just going to happen. But we don’t ever start from the other end. We start out with the characters, the story, the plot, and then we’re like, Okay, well, if we are going to have a fight in a petting zoo, you’re gonna see a lot of baby animals being… we don’t do that, there’s no petting zoo fights, I promise you!
Mama’s Geeky: How fun is it to come up with where you’re gonna stick the Invincible title shot?
Simon Racioppa: That’s always fun. Robert loves that. That’s one of his big delights, is figuring out what we’re going to do, what we’re going to say, where it’s gonna come. Sometimes it’s really early, sometimes it’s like crazy late in the episode. We walk a fine line on the show, I think because obviously we’re very dramatic, we’re very serious in a lot of places, but also we try to have some fun where we can. And have a little bit of lightness because grimness all the time is just hard to endure.
So that’s one place where we can have a little bit of fun. So we figure that out. They move around sometimes in the script. Sometimes we write the first draft of the script and we don’t put it in yet because we want to see, because we want to have a little bit of flexibility, because we’re like, Okay, well, last episode, we did this, we got to do something new for this episode. So what about if we move it. Oh, here’s a good spot. And we find a spot to stick it in.
But it’s super fun. It’s like how many how many ways can we get to that word that we haven’t used before? I mean, maybe we’ll run out eventually. But we haven’t yet.
Mama’s Geeky: Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it. I love these first four episodes and I can’t wait for more.
Simon Racioppa: Thank you so much all. Also the crew and the show appreciate people like you, who love the show, and write about the show, because that just helps us get to make more. So we appreciate that, and thank you so much for your time today.
About Invincible Season 2 Part 1
Based on the groundbreaking comic book by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley, the story revolves around 18-year-old Mark Grayson, who’s just like every other guy his age—except his father is (or was) the most powerful superhero on the planet. Still reeling from Nolan’s betrayal in Season One, Mark struggles to rebuild his life as he faces a host of new threats, all while battling his greatest fear – that he might become his father without even knowing it.
Starring Steven Yeun, with Sandra Oh, Zazie Beetz, Grey DeLisle, Chris Diamantopoulos, Walton Goggins, Gillian Jacobs, Jason Mantzoukas, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Kevin Michael Richardson, Seth Rogen, and J.K. Simmons. The executive producers are Kirkman, David Alpert, Catherine Winder, Simon Racioppa, Margaret M. Dean, Rogen, and Evan Goldberg, and the co-executive producers are Helen Leigh and Walker.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.