As Amazon launches season 2 of The Tick, creator Ben Edlund discusses why the saturation of comic book and superhero projects in film and TV is essentially a call for the hero to return. Edlund’s blue-suited creation has been around in one form or another for more than three decades, and in that time has made his way to fans in the form of comic books, an animated series, and two live-action television shows.
The second live-action series, which stars Peter Serafinowicz as the Tick and Griffin Newman as his timid but determined sidekick, Arthur, has come about during a time when superhero film and television projects aren’t just popular, they’re the dominant form of entertainment. With films like Avengers: Endgame breaking box-office records before it has even been released, and the summer movie season filled with one new comic-related project after another, it’s no wonder. But as Edlund sees it, The Tick works as a response to the phenomenon; it’s a chance to spoof what’s popular, but also to probe the reasons why it is that way.
In a recent interview with Screen Rant, Edlund discussed the ubiquity of superhero content, saying he feels the character’s recent return to television is born of a desire to look into the popularity of superheroes and their cultural dominance. Edlund said:
“Those are sort of, they're linked, in a sense, because it's the ubiquity that calls out for the Tick. We would have just stayed quiet, but the tremendous volume ... It is such a phenomenon in our culture. Maybe only rivaled previously by Westerns, as far as something that kind of takes over. It's like pervasive romance with an alternate universe that ... It used to mean something. It's definitely wide-open to lampoon, but also to investigate. That's kind of what The Tick has been a vehicle for me to do.
Tick's been a vehicle for that investigation previously, and for each [version] that I've done of him... investigating that period of both the medium and the time for superheroes in the culture. This sort of cried out, after the profusion and the endurance of this particular wave of superhero films and TV shows, because the Tick himself has a kind of good, long heritage. It felt it was time to go back to work.”
Newman agrees. While speaking with Screen Rant in a separate interview, the actor discussed how The Tick, in many ways, opens the door for a necessary commentary on “peak superhero culture.”
“I've been living with this character for three years. At the time that we shot the pilot I felt like the culture is never gonna be more superhero saturated then it is now. This is clearly the peak superhero culture and that's why this a good time to bring the Tick back to comment on it, and now three years later, the culture is somehow even more superhero inundated. I remember in 2008 people said this clearly has to be the end of superhero culture and then the two superhero movies that summer were Iron Man and The Dark Knight, which then defined the next 10 years of superhero culture. I think it's a thing that's not gonna go away anytime soon. I think what's gonna keep changing is our relationship to these stories. These stories are gonna continue to be in dialogue with whatever's going on in the culture and The Tick as a property has always been in dialogue with whatever's going on in superhero culture, standing there as a funhouse mirror to whatever's going on there.”
The Tick is certainly has plenty of experience working as a funhouse mirror to the world of comic book heroes and villains. With those characters at an all-time high in terms of visibility and popularity, it stands to reason that Tick and Arthur are the irreverent heroes the genre needs right now.
The Tick season 2 is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.