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Invincible’s Simon Racioppa Talks Finding Emotional Balance

Invincible Executive Producer Simon Racioppa discusses the second half of season 2, finding and emotional balance, and the incredible cast.

Invincible Season 2 Part 2 review / Simon Racioppa Interview

Steven Yeun (Mark Grayson), Khary Payton (Black Samson), Ross Marquand (Robot), Gillian Jacobs (Atom Eve), Ben Schwartz (Shapesmith), Jay Pharaoh (Bulletproof)



Simon Racioppa Talks Invincible Season 2 Part 2

Invincible Season 2 Part 2 review

Tessa Smith: I know we can’t really dive into spoilers, but the first episode is jam packed and an emotional roller coaster. How did you decide what you were gong to include in it?

Simon Racioppa: We like to really pack these episodes. The nice thing is we’re adapting pretty closely to Robert Kirkman’s comic book. There’s no shortage of great material. And a lot of, I’m not going to call anyone out, but I think there’s been a lot of series bloat. Where it’s just like, maybe this instead of being thirteen episodes, this could be eight. Did it really need to be this long? 

I’m a strong believer in that. I certainly believe let’s get to the good stuff. Let’s fill it up with juicy stuff and interesting things and keep you excited. No one, nobody watches TV to be board, right? We want to slow down, we want to have those emotional moments, I would say those are still obviously super important, but I don’t want to drag stuff out and neither does Robert. So we’re like, let’s move. Let’s put stuff in. And what if we run out of stuff? We invent more.

It’s better to use up the good, juicy stuff and take one idea and drag it out too far. It’s a really organic process. We just sit down, we look at the books, we’re like, Yeah, let’s do this. Let’s put this in. We could do this before we end. Let’s do it all.

Tessa Smith: I love the idea of releasing the episodes weekly. I think it gets people to talk more, and it keeps it relevant. 

Simon Racioppa: I prefer that as a viewer myself, not just working on shows, but also viewing them. I think everything you just said is exactly right. It gives you time to think about the show. To let it sink in and wonder about it. Think about what’s coming up. It lets you reflect on it a bit more. I personally, I can’t take in eight hours of a show all at once. I’m not a binge watcher. Sometimes we’re watching episodes, but like, it’s just too much. It’s just overwhelming. I would rather have it come on and have some time to reflect about material. So I like the weekly release, the weekly cadence, not just for us, but for most other shows.

Tessa Smith: Was that a decision you guys made or did Prime Video make that?

Simon Racioppa: Prime Video. Ultimately, they make all the decisions about where and how the show is released. It’s always a discussion, though. We’ve talked about it. In season one we dropped the first three all at the same time, and then we did a weekly cadence after that. I think The Boys potentially was maybe the first, I could be totally wrong, but I remember The Boys doing that cadence before us and it worked out really well for them.

I remember watching at the time and enjoying that because you got a bit of both. You could binge a couple episodes, but then you had to wait. I think that was a nice middle ground. We’ve discussed it, but ultimately, it’s Amazon’s decision. I’m happy that we’re a weekly release. 

Invincible Season 2 Part 2 review

Gillian Jacobs (Atom Eve), Steven Yeun (Mark Grayson), Zachary Quinto (Robot), Ross Marquand (The Immortal), Monster Girl, Khary Payton (Black Samson)

Tessa Smith: I’m so excited for people to see the second half of the season. We’ve got to talk about this voice cast because the voice cast for season one is incredible, but we got so many more incredible people in season two that we get to explore. One of my favorites is Ben Schwartz. I think he’s incredible.

Simon Racioppa: Come on, Ben Schwartz, right? Is there anything he has done that’s not amazing? That he doesn’t make better?

Tessa Smith: He gets a little bit more time to shine, I guess I should say, in the second half of the season. So is there anything you can can talk about with him and his character? 

Simon Racioppa: Look, I would love to give Ben all the screen time in the world. He’s so great as Shapesmith. He’s so much fun. He plays another character in our show as well. I don’t want to spoil too much but he’s more than just a Shapesmith going forwards. Ben’s awesome. He’s so much fun to work with. He comes in with such great ideas. Improvises lines. Make stuff funnier than we could write it. Ben is just a treat. I love working with them. 

Tessa Smith: Is there anyone else that stands out?

Simon Racioppa: I mean, they’re all good. I can’t tell you who my favorite is. I don’t have one. Obviously, Steven Yeun is the anchor of the show. I think there’s some performances of his in this back half of season two, especially in the last couple episodes, that I think will just leave you gobsmacked and also wrenching with emotion.

There’s stuff, I’ve heard lines of his from the show during the course of production, maybe thirty times, and even the 30th time I’m like, Oh, my God, it’s so good. Steven does such a good job. So I hope that comes across to the audience. But no, we are so lucky to have him and everyone else on the show.

Tessa Smith: How do you find the balance that tone between intense action and emotional moments?

Simon Racioppa: Honestly we just try to treat it realistically. And we talk. We have a great writers room. We have great team of writers and we sit down and we know obviously like, Okay, here’s a huge fight that’s coming up and these characters are going to be involved, and this person is going to be really badly hurt, and this person is going to survive, but see some terrible things. What would happen next with him? How would you feel after going through that? You would probably take some time to recover. This would probably haunt your nightmares for the next three months. You might never recover from this.

So that needs to go into that character. That needs to be reflected in how that character interacts with other people in the scenes. Maybe something reminds them of a terrible event. So that has to bubble up. We just want to make sure that everything feels real and everything has weight to it. So that if you’re in a life or death situation, that is reflected in that character going forwards.

They’re not just like, Well, that happened. Everything’s fine. There are people who have been in a terrible car accident or some other big, loses a parent or something like that, that stuff doesn’t go away the next day. And we want to make sure that feels true for our characters, even in a crazy superhero world, maybe even more so because they’re in a crazy superhero world. That’s something we try to do. We spend a lot of time on that. 

invincible mark

Tessa Smith: Mark gets his ass kicked a lot, which is something that a lot of people online talk about.

Simon Racioppa: He kicks some ass, I think, in the back half his season. He’s a 17 year old kid at the start of the season one. Why would you expect a 17 year old kid, even if they were super strong, to be a great fighter? His dad was training him and practicing with him and stuff, but he wasn’t like a natural athlete or anything. So why would you expect him to suddenly be able to go toe to toe with supervillains and other characters that have been doing this for like a decade and maybe come from a ninja school or something like that?

That’s not realistic. Mark’s going to the school of hard knocks, he’s learning this bit by bit as he goes through and is getting better and more competent. I think you’re gonna see that going forwards but I think you take your average 17 year old and give them superpowers, they’re not going to be great at it at first. It’s gonna take time. They’re gonna get their ass whooped a bunch of times before they start to find their footing. And I think that’s just realistic and that’s what we want to do with Mark. It’s not like, Hey I went to ninja school for a whole two weeks and now I’m amazing. It takes longer than that.

Tessa Smith: No, you’re exactly right. That’s something I love about this series. It’s so realistic because often, especially in a movie format, somebody gets superpowers and after a montage they have mastered them.

Simon Racioppa: Just one montage, right? Like one long one. They’re lifting weights, doing some stretches, kicking the dummy, and now they’re awesome. Yeah, no, that’s not how it works.

Invincible Season 2 Part 2 review

Zazie Beetz (Amber Bennett), Steven Yeun (Mark Grayson)

Tessa Smith: That’s why I love this series so much because it is so grounded and realistic for being in a world with superheroes right?

Simon Racioppa: I’m glad it feels that way. We try. Obviously, there is stuff that’s still fantastical. We still have fun with it. We are still in a fantasy superhero universe. But we try to ground it where we can. Where it makes sense. It’s a balance. We are always asking ourselves when we look at these episodes, are we being a little too serious here? Is this a little too grim? Maybe we should have a little more fun. And then other places, are we being too silly here? Maybe we should pull it back. It’s just this balancing act between big superhero action silliness. And then really, very grim, scenes about loss and people dying and stuff like that. We’re trying to give you a bit of both and make it still feel right for the show. Get the tone right. 

Tessa Smith: You guys even went and put that funeral right in the trailer. You didn’t even hide it.

Simon Racioppa: I mean, when people die, there are funerals. So it’s like, if someone’s important, or not even someone important, but someone’s died, you go to a funeral in most cases, right? So yeah, that happens in our world, too. We’ve had a lot of funerals actually.

Find out whose funeral it is when Invincible returns to Prime Video on March 14th.

NEXT: Invincible Season 2 Part 2 Review

Invincible Season 2 Part 2 poster

About Invincible Season 2 Part 2

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.

The second half of its eight-episode season will return to Prime Video on March 14, with new episodes airing weekly.