Published: Saturday, 08 January 2011 15:22 | Written by Karen Moul
By Karen Moul
NBC is pulling out all the stops for its new series, The Cape, a crime drama with a comic book sensibility. Curious viewers have seen the promos and explored the show's website, which includes an online graphic novel and official message board. The marketing blitz reached a high point just before Christmas, when the show's creator and executive producer, Thomas Wheeler, made time for a Q&A session with digital journalists.
The show stars David Lyons (ER) as Vince Faraday, a good cop framed for crimes he did not commit. Presumed dead in an explosion, Faraday teams up with a gang of carnival workers who help him assume the persona of The Cape - his son's favorite comic book hero. Taking the law into his own hands, Faraday fights to defeat the criminal forces of Palm City and win back his wife, Dana (Jennifer Ferrin, Life on Mars) and son, Trip (Ryan Wynott, Flash Forward).
"I'm a lifelong comic book fan," said Wheeler. "The idea of writing my own comic was always really appealing. I just have always been attracted to those stories."
"I knew I wanted to write a story about a father and son and a father who takes on the persona of his son's favorite comic book hero. And ... if I was going to write it for TV, I really wanted to wrap my arms around something that felt like its own comic book universe, still emotionally grounded and high-stakes."
Wheeler's influences include mostly Marvel comics. He cites Daredevil, the Green Arrow, and X-Men as favorites. "I think I'm more drawn to the heroes [with] a certain wish fulfillment aspect, the regular guy thrown into a situation or having to take on a responsibility. And ... even though I love the larger-than-life or space epics, I do kind of favor ... Green Arrow, Daredevil, Batman. I just relate to them best and I feel they were the most influential."
And while The Cape is certain to please comics fans, the show also has a lot to offer viewers who have never picked up a comic book or graphic novel. "I do think you can tell a story that embraces 7-year-olds and 70-year-olds, and people that are fans of comics and people that are not into comics, says Wheeler, "through stakes that are real and emotions that are real.
"For instance, Vince's wife Dana [is] a single mom now suddenly forced to move to a scarier part of town [and] who is now the sole breadwinner for her family... plunging into Palm City as a public defender and coming up face-to-face with the corruption. Her story is very heroic without having all the superhero trappings. Her story is just as heroic and her journey in some ways is just as dangerous and just as compelling [as The Cape's]."
The Cape also marks the return of Summer Glau (Firefly;Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) to prime time, as a crusading anti-crime blogger known as Orwell.
Orwell is one of Wheeler's favorite characters "because she's sort of this mystery box. She is almost an Alias-like character. She uses a lot of different disguises. She's a woman that's been on the run for a long time and is really pretty mercenary.
"She sees herself as a revolutionary in a police state. She's really quite military in her thinking. She's a sort of glamorous military person but she's pretty hard-core. And that creates a lot of tension with The Cape, who was not a corrupt cop and was actually a pretty straightforward kind of family guy.
"Summer is just doing terrific. There's big plans for her character. She is not just behind the computer all the time. She's out there and quite in the thick of it. And yes, we're very lucky to have her."
The Cape premieres with a two-hour episode on Sunday, January 9 from 9:00 to 11:00 Eastern time with an encore broadcast the following Monday, January 10, from 9:00 to 11:00. The show moves to its regular time period Monday, January 17 at 9:00 pm.
The transcript of the Q&A can be read below.
QUESTION: I just want to ask you about the Cape universe. I've actually read a lot about it that you're trying to sort of like a merger, the idea of a superhero concept for the cathedral. Could you tell me a little bit about that, some of the ideas behind that and ... how it's going to deviate and differ from things such as "Heroes" and stuff like that?
TOM WHEELER: Sure. I think one of the fun challenges of - I mean, I'm a lifelong comic book fan. The idea of writing my own comic was always really appealing, you know, writing any comic. I just have always been attracted to those stories.
The opportunity when I thought about writing the Cape, it was - it came sort of in stages. I knew I wanted to write a story about a father and son and a father who takes on the persona of his son's favorite comic book hero. But then it took a while for me to settle on who that hero should be.
And I also wanted it ... if I was going to write it for TV, I really wanted to wrap my arms around something that felt like its own comic book universe, still grounded and emotionally grounded and high-stakes but I wanted to create my own kind of playground.
So the idea of creating a fictional city seemed to fit in a kind of Silver Age fashion. Just sort of create a hero with some Silver Age sensibilities - even though it's set in the 21st Century - and larger-than-life characters, but see if we could maintain a really strong emotional thread throughout and kind of what's some of the great character driven superhero stuff we've seen.
I knew I wanted costumes. I knew that would be a challenge. But I also feel that that, in a sense, what embodies a superhero? Or at least the ones I grew up with.
And I've been approaching it from a couple different places. I want it to have kind of a pulp sensibility. I wanted it to feel - I wanted Palm City to feel like it had some timeless elements to it.
The nightlife I wanted to feel sort of Old Hollywood. I wanted there to be ... a feel of different worlds within it and yet still be a relatable world.
So I think you'll see kind of a mixture of both. But those were some of the - that was the genesis of some of it and how they ended up combining a little bit.
QUESTION: The Cape universe - just how much do you actually know about it? Do you know the brands of beer people in Palm City [drink], you know, those details and conditions that come up?
TOM WHEELER: Well the brands of beer, there's actually someone who's threatening to poison some beer in a - in actually a script that's being written right now.
But one of the great things about this was the pilot, you know, I was in - it was me in my room sort of coming up with this world. And I would kind of throw stories down the lane. I didn't quite know how we'd get there but I knew sort of where I wanted to get to. And one of the things that I felt grew the most from the pilot to Episode 2 was the character of Palm City.
For example, we developed this world called Trolley Park which is this kind of "Blade Runner"-ish world that is - we imagine it almost like a kingdom with a sort of central Palm City, has the arc tower in the center of it and then it's sort of surrounded by these railroad tracks, these old trolley tracks.
And we put the carnival of crime at the end ... almost like a gypsy encampment community underneath what were the old trolley tunnels. And that's where the poorest, the real squalor of Palm City is and it's where Vince Faraday hides.
And we named it Trolley Park because we needed to - we wanted to figure out where the carnival would ... be set. And trolley parks originally were - it's where carnivals were more or less invented. They were at the end of the trolley to lure people to use the trolley. And coming up with worlds within Palm City was one of the great aspects of it.
And what brand of beer they drink, well we should come up with a Palm City brand but they also will enjoy a good Corona or whatever else. It's a part of the United States.
And the further out we get from Palm City the more it is our world. You know, we'll hear them talking about the military stuff in Afghanistan. We hear that but I wanted a place that could feel contained enough because I do see this as a sort of costumed crime drama.
And so I wanted Palm City to really... the issues within this city - it's gangsters. It's corrupt businessmen, corrupt cops. It's a little bit of this police state within this city that I thought would help contain it and give the stories a sort of certain unique flavor. But I'm open to beer brand suggestions if you have any.
QUESTION: In looking at the longevity of the superhero-based series like The Cape, where does the focus need to be beyond superpowers and saving the day?
TOM WHEELER: Well I think that's sort of the key. That's a key question.
One of the things that I wanted to establish was even though our guy would wear a mask and it was going to - we were going to sort of tackle this whole idea of kind of costumed superheroes, I also didn't necessarily want it to be super-powered.
Now, The Cape does some extraordinary things and obviously we will push the envelope of science and what is conceivable. But it's also going to be sort of limited in what characters can actually do.
I prefer that because I feel that will bring us deeper into our characters. And there's a fugitive aspect to this story about a guy trying to get home. But we tackle it in a pretty realistic way. It's not sort of just we set up the premise and then he just goes and punches bad guys in the head.
I mean, I kind of approach these things as a novelist. And the material that I'm most drawn to, whether it's growing up with Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, I tend to tackle these things with a lot of ambition and scope. But I think they have to start from a very intimate, emotional stakes place.
So what launches The Cape into existence is this struggle to get back to his family and to send a message to his son. What will keep him as The Cape as we go along? We'll approach very realistically. His family is going through the loss of a father and husband. He's going through this struggle of this decision he's made to protect his family to keep his identity a secret. And ... it's brutal on them both. And we deal with that and at the same time things will change in the course of the series.
And even though there is an adventure-of-the-week aspect, for those who will tune in every week there are undercurrents of change and developments that will sometimes subtly and then sometimes quite suddenly change and reverse course.
So I have big plans for The Cape, the character of The Cape – who The Cape is, the mythology of The Cape, the mythology of these characters like Max Malini and Orwell.
And I also love to dig deeper into Palm City and the history of Palm City.
For instance the digital comic that we're doing, which Michael Gaydos is doing the art for and is just doing this beautiful job, that comic book is not just drawing our characters like drawing our actors. That's actually the comic book that Trip, the son, reads in the show. So it's sort of a second Cape mythology within the show for those who want to get a better feel for this world and the rules.
And so I think it's maintained, to give you a completely long-winded answer. I mean I just I think it's the emotional stakes that have to be constantly sort of serviced and then refreshed as we go along.
QUESTION: And are there any plans for a parallel storyline, perhaps online, to go along with The Cape?
TOM WHEELER: Well it's one of the things we're trying to do with the comic. And I really think this show in particular has a lot of opportunities in the digital world in comic books.
We're actually putting up "Orwell is Watching" as an actual blog. So you can follow Orwell's blogs so, you know, there's a connection to what's going on. In those blogs will be clues to new bad guys and new villains and storylines that we're dealing with.
And I just think it's ... one of the most fun and challenging aspects is how many [ways] can we tell these stories? And through which different venue just to [make it] satisfying for the audience.
But yes, we're pursuing all those different ways to make it feel Palm City is a living, breathing place and people can access it through different areas. I love that part of it. I'm totally into that and ... we're actively dealing with it every day and how we can bring the audience further into the show.
QUESTION: I'm curious which comic books that you enjoyed reading in the past may have informed The Cape, like some specific titles or creator runs on various comic books?
TOM WHEELER: Sure. I'm, you know, current and former. I grew up reading mostly Marvel stuff. I would say Daredevil was my favorite character. But I was into X-Men. The first X-Men I picked up was 136 where the whole Phoenix saga was underway.
And I was always really drawn into the Marvel characters. But over time Green Arrow was a favorite of mine, the Mike Grell Green Arrow was amazing.
The Daredevil though was the Frank Miller Electra/Bullseye run which was, I felt, such a great - it was such a great kind of [mix] between crime story and superhero. And it was all street level and it was - it had a really sprawling mythology but it was also still kind of an adventure in a comic book. So I loved that run.
I loved Brubaker's run on Captain America more recently. The whole winner soldier thing I just thought was great.
And I've - I'll read everything Grant Morrison writes. And I won't always understand it but I will read it. And he's just brilliant. His ideas are just - they go by in a panel ... there will be something that sort of flies by and you're like "Wait, what? What did he just say?" I envy his imagination.
And so I would say I favor, I think I'm more drawn to the heroes who are ... I think there's a certain wish fulfillment aspect of the regular guy thrown into a situation or having to take on a responsibility. And ... even though I love the larger-than-life or space epics or whatever, I do kind of favor ... Green Arrow, Daredevil, Batman. I just relate to them best and I feel they were the most influential.
Although The Cape itself kind of has those - has aspects of even going further back. Like The Spirit or The Shadow, something torn out of that era.
And the fact that The Cape itself is a sort of straightforward, there was something in its simplicity that I loved and felt like it could straddle both those worlds, the kind of heroes I grew up reading and then something that harked back to an earlier age.
But I also - oh Power Man. Iron Fist I was also way into. Iron Fist is a big favorite of mine. And that Matt Fraction run on Iron Fist recently was just outstanding. I just thought that (Dave Aja Ardin) and ... the (stack) contest and all those heroes he came up with, it was just a great run.
QUESTION: With so much crossover among writers in Hollywood and comic books, do you envision working with any known comic book talent on the show?
TOM WHEELER: Oh I would love to, yes, absolutely. And a lot of these guys that I mentioned are really damn busy, you know? I mean I'm - I think I was [throwing] out some calls to some of these guys, it was like they're doing quite well, you know, writing their ten books.
But yes, anytime Ed Brubaker wants to give me a call or any of the others, there's some wonderful, wonderful writers and some of my favorite writers are writing comics right now.
And I have a lot of respect for what they do. And so yes, definitely. And I think some of their agents were called earlier on in this process.
QUESTION: How are we going to bring in people who maybe are not so into comics? For the comic n00b who's not really familiar with or inspired by comic world, what are the great things that are going to make everybody love the show whether we like comics or not?
TOM WHEELER: That's a great question and one that I think is addressed within the show. And it also has to deal with the regular guy in extraordinary circumstances aspect to the story and the wish fulfillment aspects of the story.
But more specifically, there's a whole side of this story that yes, we'll have some larger-than-life villains and wonderful actors will play them, but there's a Palm City, real-people-living-their-lives part of this story.
For instance, Vince's wife Dana – who is just played terrifically by Jennifer Ferrin – she's a single mom now suddenly who has been forced to move to a scarier part of town [and] who is now responsible, the sole breadwinner for her family who is ... now plunging into Palm City as a public defender and coming up face-to-face with the corruption and the stuff that's going on.
There is a really sort of romantic angle to, you know, this woman who lost the love of her life but The Cape is now in her life. And ... she's wrestling with how long do I mourn and what does that mean and when is it appropriate to move on with my life?
I think all of these aspects to this story just ground us and ground it all the more because I do think you can tell a story that embraces 7-year-olds and 70-year-olds and people that are fans of comics and people that are not into comics through stakes that are real and emotions that are real.
And so I'm sensitive to that. And I think the story itself and my influences do go beyond [comics]. Some of my favorites whether it's Philip K. Dick or H.P. Lovecraft – I mean what I love about The Cape is we tell one story that deals with something that is the cutting edge, mostly sort of high-tech dangers and things we fear in this world and feels like a story that's sort of tipping into science fiction.
And then the story we're telling now or shooting right now is a really sort of Gothic, creepy, wonderfully scary kind of story. And I'm just continuing to feel out where we can go. And so I think there are influences and story influences that are pretty embracing to all audiences.
QUESTION: You've got a pretty extensive male cast, sort of a boy's club. But then you have these two female characters, at least one of which looks like she's going to be very strong female lead. Not being a woman yourself, what is your inspiration and how do you approach writing a lead female character?
TOM WHEELER: I have a wife who is very vocal about how I approach my characters and how I deal with them and how I write my woman characters.
We have some wonderful writers on staff – Toni Graphia from Battlestar and Sarah Connor, and Christine Rohm and some really wonderful female voices and just some wonderful writers in general.
And one of my favorite storylines really is this Dana storyline. And ... suffice to say we have huge plans for Summer Glau, who plays Orwell. But Dana has really taken hold as a real ... when you see her, you root for her. Her story is very heroic without having all the superhero trappings. Her story is just as heroic and her journey in some ways is just as dangerous and just as compelling.
And I look forward to really continuing to complicate their lives in a very loving way. But I think people will be surprised where it goes.
And yes, I think we have a really strong female villain. Mena Suvari comes in as this character Dice. So we're reaching out to female audiences. And I think our characters will - I think their stories will be really compelling.
QUESTION: I have a question about Vince Faraday because obviously you've been growing up with all these superheroes and now you had the chance to create your own. What was it about [actor David Lyons] that you saw in the superhero that you've been dreaming of creating? And what can you tell us about David's betrayal and Vince himself?
TOM WHEELER: One of the real challenges when we got into this was that real question [of] people - some actors come in and they play the superhero. You know, they got the fists on the hips and they do the whole profile and you're kind of going "oh geez, what have I done?" and "this is going to be lame."
And there was something - we saw David actually on tape because he was in Australia. And we had seen some good actors and but we had for certain not found Vince. And there was something about David who is not only really super, just compelling in his look, but beside that he was only one that – well, he was the only one that convinced me.
You know, he was the only one that his conviction and his sincerity immediately brought the scenes to a place where you can only hope they go.
And he continues to do that. I mean the awesome thing about him is his total commitment. And through him we're able to go through these crazy worlds and these experiences and meet these characters but he never as an actor ever loses sight of what it's about, why he's doing this.
And so I really think he's - we just couldn't have a better hero to put this on his shoulders. And ... the first day, he was running around with the gun and doing all this detective stuff. And you were also like "damn, he's a really good action hero guy." That stuff just comes so naturally to him.
I think we're slowly killing him with everything we're putting him through and beating - you know, having to fight (Vinnie Jones) on top of a train and everything else. I'm hoping he's okay at the end of this. But he is just like 1000%. And really again, there's a vulnerability and a conviction and a reality that just put him - that there was no question in our mind.
QUESTION: How far in advance have you planned the story? Do you know the end of season one? Do you know the end of season two? And do you know exactly where it's going?
TOM WHEELER: I know ... I came in with a plan [and] it has held pretty well, I got to say.
Sometimes you end up getting to the same place through a totally different avenue, which I love. I love that discovery part. And obviously the writers on staff here have taken it on as their own, of course. And so we've all together come up with some great stuff.
But yes, I know where this season will end. Those scripts aren't written yet. But as for season two, I have some very strong ideas of the threads that would go through season two and a couple of options of how I want to end a season two.
And then what you always wrestle with are these even longer-term plans where there's a kind of "what if?" and you go "well in three, you know, four years..." And inevitably that stuff tends to move up. But there's some really exciting stuff and places that I would like it to go and that gives it a little bit more of an epic scope.
But yes, we'll see how this initial run goes. But I would love for it to go on and on because there's ... a groove and a rhythm I would love to find that I just think would be terrific.
And what I really initially want to do is create this very rich rogues gallery with these really cool actors so that people can, in a very fun way, anticipate who's coming back. And so I will look forward to revisiting some of these characters that we've already established.
QUESTION: Which episode that you've written or seen completed so far is your favorite, which one are you really excited for the audience to see?
TOM WHEELER: Oh, that's a tough one, but I'm really excited about episode - well I guess it's the second episode after the pilot, I guess it would be the second hour. It was more or less the second episode that I wrote. I think [it] crystallizes a lot of the themes and there's some absolutely beautiful performances.
But that's becoming harder and harder. I'm really - I'm happy with where things are going. But I think that second hour in some ways even resets the pilot. It's kind of a pilot times two. Deran Serafian, our director, producer and the director of that episode, did just an unbelievable job.
QUESTION: So we all know that when we're dealing with a hero they're only as interesting as their villains. What can you tell us about some of the villains we might see this season on the show?
TOM WHEELER: Well we are super fortunate to have kind of two regular villains. I'd say they're kind of polar opposites.
James Frain plays this billionaire, Peter Fleming who is this corporate titan. He's this sort of industrialist who has chosen Palm City for these charter private policing programs. But he's got his finger in a lot of pies all around the world. And he really seems to be using Palm City as a stepping stone for a real experiment. And that becomes clear as things unfold.
But he moonlights as this sort of psychopath terrorist. He's this character Chess, this dual identity that he has who is a killer and a master strategist and really more embracing those comic book, larger-than-life figures.
We have Vinny Jones who plays this mobster named Scales. He doesn't like to be called Scales, the character doesn't. But he is this really brutal crime lord. he and Peter Fleming don't always get along so well but they're the two initial villain forces that The Cape has to contend with.
But we quickly start bringing in some other characters. For instance early into the series we meet this character from Max Malini's past as we tell a story that really has a lot to do with the history and the mythology of the physical cape itself that the Cape uses. And it suggests that the cape has a darker history than we might realize. And this character played by Thomas Kretchman comes to town to reclaim what he feels is his. And he's a great villain.
And like all the villains we try to give them a real drive and I think in some ways the best villains are the ones that are the heroes in their story. I feel the best ones are motivated from a relatable place in some ways. So we tend to - we've gotten in a little bit of a pattern introducing our bad guy first.
And we told Scales' origin story in a recent episode. And like I said Mena Suvari will come in as this mysterious and dangerous woman called Dice who has a real grudge against Peter Fleming, with good reason. And the Cape gets embroiled in this almost romantic triangle, as this woman torn between these two very different figures.
So it's always just character first and find the most interesting story. Although in Episode 2 this character Kane who is a poisoner for this group that we introduce called the Tarot. He's a pretty straightforward bad guy. He's just pretty awful. And he's really he's a great deal of fun. So that's just a sampling of what's to come.
QUESTION: It sounds like you really are well versed in all the genre topics. And I was curious if you have ever been involved in the fan community, attending conventions or if you've ever dressed up in the costume yourself?
TOM WHEELER: Well, I will only reveal certain things. No, I'm kidding about the costume. But yes, absolutely. I'm in LA and so [I went to] Comic-Con before it became like the Superbowl of genre and I loved going down there.
And I feel I'm always having these contests of "who knows more?" And I often lose [against] my own staff. And I've got some really hard-core [staff], they know their stuff.
But yes, I have always considered myself a part of the fan community. And I would go to Comic-Con and I'd wait in line and get signatures. And I loved looking at the artwork.
And one of the most "pinch me" aspects of this has been ... by just happenstance I managed to get in touch with John Cassidy who I just loved from his run on X-Men and Planetary and just as an artist he was amazing. And I managed – it was just serendipity, I guess, but he agreed to do a cover for ... our Comic-Con comic that we did this past summer. And just seeing him do a version of a character that I had created was really extraordinary for me. I like to meet actors and it's cool but that, to me, was a pretty awesome moment in the course of the show.
And so ... it's a big lift doing all these episodes but the playground is amazing. And I feel very fortunate and thankful because ... whether we succeed or fail it's coming from a place of real affection for characters in this world.
And when I was at Comic-Con this summer that was the first time I'd ever been there with something that I had created. And it was thrilling. It was just thrilling. It was an amazing ride. And having been in those audiences and then being on a panel was great and I really enjoyed it. So, knock on wood, we're there next year. But yes, I've gone to Wizard World and all that stuff.
QUESTION: Oh, Wizard World, yes. So you've done some gaming too?
TOM WHEELER: Well ... I was a big Dungeon and Dragons kid, absolutely.
There's a character with that influence coming up, you know. And anytime I can put a sword in someone's hand it's a good thing, so we'll see. But yes, I was obsessed with that game as a child and into my teens. It's awesome. It's just the best.
I mean it was my school replacement. I want to get my son into that some day.
QUESTION: I was wondering if I could ask about the music for the series. You guys working with Bear McCreary or that he's involved in some part? Could you talk a little bit about the tone of the music or what you're aiming for with it?
TOM WHEELER: Bear is a force of nature. He is just - he's awesome. And even from our first meeting, his enthusiasm and his mind – it goes past music.
He really wants to organically figure out what's the best relationship between the music and the show. And his ideas are always terrific.
We've been talking to him a lot about our main title sequence. And he has done a theme that just rocks. And it's really our big superhero theme, you know. We want to rival any of the best Spiderman or Batman themes.
We're going for it. It's a big full orchestra sound that I just think he manages to ride this emotional wave through his music and through the show that doesn't shy away from the emotion but it also doesn't spoon feed it.
He's a really gifted composer and musician. You know, the themes that he's come up with for the carnival ... he loves to come up with themes for each character and then dovetail them through the music.
So I think the show is going to sound outstanding. And [Bear] is, to me, a huge integral part of it. And I just love what he's doing so far.
QUESTION: Have you any people that you would love to guest star in the show, as a villain maybe?
TOM WHEELER: Yes, there's a lot of people who would be fantastic. And we're lucky so far. Vinny Jones was kind of a coup for us because I sort of threw out this name never thinking we were going to get Vinny. And lo and behold he showed up in the office and he's this larger-than-life guy himself.
You know, Vinny alone could give The Cape a run for his money. So I think we've set a really high bar and there and so far we have been really, really fortunate with who we've managed to get.
You guys will see, in an early episode Elliott Gould plays a character who has a certain amount of mystery around him.
And I would love to sort of shoot for the moon and see who we can get. There's roles for everybody from a Jack Black to a - I could think of hundreds of people I'd love to see play villains. And over time we will see.
We're starting in a very, very good place. And so I'm hopeful. And it's also sometimes just great make a discovery and you have someone who isn't as well known who just knocks it out of the park.
And that's great too because then when they come back in the series, they're that character. It's not necessarily "oh, so-and-so as this" but then it's also fun in sort of summer movie fashion to have that famous person taking on the role.
So, you know, we'll see. But we're trying to get these scripts as fun and inventive as possible so that there are parts that people want to play.
QUESTION: Tell us a little bit about the wonderful and amazing Summer Glau who will be on the show, and tell us a bit about Orwell.
TOM WHEELER: She is wonderful and she is amazing. It was another moment where I was saying I don't know, The Cape just seems to have this lucky energy around it because Summer - we had been searching and searching for Orwell and one day in the casting office, I didn't even realize and Summer walked in.
And a friend of mine I was working on the show with, from Berman, Braun, we were both like "Summer Glau's here! What? Summer Glau is here!" So she was just great. She was fantastic and obviously perfect for the role. And we hired her immediately and she will not disappoint. She is just terrific.
And the character of Orwell is one of my favorites because she's sort of this mystery box. There's a lot in her background to be revealed. She is almost an Alias-like character. She plays a lot of different characters. She uses a lot of different disguises. She's a woman that's been on the run for a long time and is really pretty mercenary.
I mean, she sees herself as a revolutionary in a police state. She's really quite military in her thinking. She's a sort of glamorous military person but she's pretty hard-core. And that creates a lot of tension with The Cape, who was not a corrupt cop and was actually a pretty straightforward kind of family guy, although there were aspects of his past that hinted at some darkness as well.
But Summer is just doing terrific. There's big plans for her character. She is s not just behind the computer all the time. She's out there and quite in the thick of it. And yes we're very lucky to have her.
QUESTION: When you were creating the universe, did you always have in mind that you wanted to adapt it for television versus movies?
TOM WHEELER: Actually, originally when I was thinking about this sort of father-and-son story - it was a feature in my head.
And then, as sometimes happens ... this opportunity [arose] to write a pilot with Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun. I knew we we're going to work together on something. And what was that something going to be?
And I thought about it and I thought if I was going to do a series, which is quite an undertaking, it would have to be something that material-wise would be just too delicious and cool and what would I want to do. Because you never know, you always think these things are never going to get made.
So I just swung for the fences for my take. You know, I wanted to do a full comic book, costumed hero, just kind of go for it. And then, the idea of the father and son felt like it brought it to Earth, kept its feet on the ground and was something that we could invest in a way that could open the door to all audiences.
And then it was figuring out who The Cape himself was going to be. And there was something very primal about the cape itself and the fact that when you're a kid and you put the cape on or you put your blanket around your neck and you're running around ... my 7-year-old, he's throwing whatever around his neck now. And I'm very cool around my house now that I'm doing a superhero.
I mean, he wasn't super-interested in what I was doing before but there's something about the Cape itself that is a very powerful symbol, a kind of Jungian mythological symbol and brings with it a lot of symbolic energy.
But then in a very childlike way it's our first introduction to the superhero. And I don't know, there was just something about that that I liked.
So it felt like at that point that I could tell a lot of stories - and a lot of stories to me meant that it would be a good TV show.
QUESTION: NBC's put a lot of effort into promoting some of the season's most anticipated shows this season but ended up with lackluster ratings for various reasons. Does this add any pressure on you for The Cape to do well? And what is NBC doing specifically in terms of support to help turn The Cape into a hit?
TOM WHEELER: Is there pressure? Yes, yes there's pressure. You know, I think [there is pressure] with any endeavor that costs this much and is such an undertaking, a big show like this with effects and budgets and all that. I can say this: sure I want it to succeed, and on its own.
Launching any show is a challenge in this environment. Launching a show is a challenge.
I have to say in complete, total honesty - NBC has been fantastic to me and the show. They've been really loyal creative partners. They've let me do my thing. They've supported the genre aspect of the show.
And in the marketing of the show and the promotion of the show, I think they're throwing everything at us, in a good way. They are really getting behind it. And ... I personally loved the promos because I feel like they are embracing what's different about this show. Like they're just having fun, and they're inviting people to a new experience, which I love because I think we are a new experience on TV.
And, sink or swim, I think everybody is collectively just going for it which is great, which is all you can ask. And there's no scapegoat for me in this.
I feel the show has been supported. I think they're doing a great job. And we're setting out to tell the stories we want to tell. So, knock on wood. But yes it's a big build up. January 9 we'll see.
QUESTION: Who would you just give your left kidney to have as a guest director on the show if you could?
TOM WHEELER: I'm writing the Puss-in-Boots movie right now for DreamWorks. And Guillermo del Toro has come on as an Executive Producer. And I'm just working up the courage to say "so Guillermo, I know you're not busy with 25 of the coolest projects in the world, but in case you ever want to do some superhero stuff..." He's just a brilliant, brilliant guy.
Where would I begin? One hopes we get that chance even though I feel enormously lucky to have Deran Serafian as our director/producer who you'll see in Episode One and Two, Two is the one Deran directed. I think it doesn't look like anything else on TV. He really has done a beautiful job.
But I'm a big Guillermo fan so he would be fun. You'd have to do like a creepy ... it'd have to be a specific kind of episode maybe to strike his fancy but, we'll see.