Brian Michael Bendis wrote every issue of Marvel's acclaimed Ultimate Spider-Man comic book, so he was an obvious choice to join the writers room for Disney XD's animated adaptation. A consulting producer on the just-renewed series, Bendis wrote this Sunday's episode, a Freaky Friday homage in which Spider-Man and Wolverine swap bodies.
"This is one of the few episodes that's actually based on something that happened in the comics," says Bendis, who admits that when his comic-book editor first suggested the story years ago, he thought it could be a career ender (hence the comic's title, "Jump the Shark"). "I said, 'That is the dumbest idea I have heard in my life.' And like two hours later I was out bike riding and all of a sudden a flood of jokes about what would happen just came to me. I was so mad because I thought, now I have to write this. You can't ignore 25 jokes that came to you in a two seconds!"
In the episode (titled "Freaky") Wolverine teams-up with Spidey to take down the villain Mesmero. But Mesmero gets the last laugh, using his mind-control powers to make a superhero switcheroo. The next day, Spider-Man's consciousness jumps into Wolverine's body, and vice versa. "And comedy ensues," Bendis says.
Though Wolverine made a cameo in an earlier episode, this is his first full-fledged appearance on the show. "We went for the classic Wolverine," Bendis says. "He's a badass mutant. He couldn't be more different than Peter Parker, the 15-year-old superhero in training. And how they deal with the stress of body switching could not be more different." Bendis credits voice actors Drake Bell (Spider-Man/Peter Parker) and Steve Blum (Wolverine, a role he's previously played in other cartoons) for pulling it off with humor.
Though Bendis is still a busy (and über-popular) comic-book writer, he's also adding to his TV resume with FX's adaptation of his comic Powers. A pilot (about a former superhero turned police detective) was rejected by the network, but there is still hope for the project. "I'm happy to say that FX ordered more scripts, and the scripts are being written as we speak," Bendis says. "We have a little writers room going. We're still not on the air — I want to be on the air. But ordering more episodes is a sign in the right direction. It's a very good experience, but a slow experience."
Ultimate Spider-Man airs Sundays at 11am/10c on Disney XD's Marvel Universe block. This week's episode kicks off a six-episode marathon. Check out this exclusive clip from "Freaky."