Adult Swim Series & Movie

Long-running, much-loved Adult Swim series The Venture Bros. may sadly be over, but there’s some consolation, and some sense of closure, for its many fans: five years after its seventh season ended, a direct-to-video film—The Venture Bros.: Radiant is the Blood of the Baboon Heart (yes, the title makes sense once you watch it!)—arrives this week. io9 spoke to co-creators Doc Hammer and Chris McCulloch, aka Jackson Publick, to learn more.

This interview was conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike.

Cheryl Eddy, io9: Last time I spoke with you was 2019, when season seven was getting its home release and the possibility of a season eight was still on the table. What happened in those intervening years that shifted “season eight” to “movie”?

Doc Hammer: Your guess is as good as ours. Corporations change. Hulu had something to do with it. God knows what happened. Look, when they cancel you, they don’t go, “Here are the reasons you’re being canceled.” If you’re an actor on the show, you just don’t get a call sheet. There really is no protocol for etiquette in this situation. So we might never know. We could speculate—I could read trade papers and they’d have a better idea of what happened than what I do. We don’t know what happened. There is a known shift in dynamics during that time period, so make your own guesses. Or… they were just scared of how good we were.

Jackson Publick: Yeah! [Both laugh]

Image: Courtesy of Adult Swim

io9: What was the biggest change you had to make in your approach to the material and moving the story forward, now that instead of a season of 10 (or so) episodes it was going to be a 83-minute movie?

Publick: We had the same problems of trying to fit too much in as we do on any episode, no matter how long it is. But if anything, it opened up a sense of freedom, that you could let scenes breathe a little bit more and go, “Oh, let’s have a nice, long establishing shot.” Controlling the tone and the tempo over the longer haul was more gratifying than [it was a] challenge. When we were editing it and doing the storyboards and everything, it was tricky because I had to produce it in three parts—I had to produce it like it was three episodes, just so that it could ship overseas at the right time. So it was a little hard to get a big picture the whole time. But it worked out, I think.

Hammer: And the writing, it was just like usual. We edit more than we produce when we write. Half of our scripts are never aired [laughs], then every great idea we had is lost somewhere in the middle of the script because it didn’t work for the one we were writing. But my recollection is different than anybody who will ever see it, because I watch scenes and go, “I remember what was supposed to be there, it was big number that I was really proud of.” “Well, we dropped that character.” Jackson and I are just good at picking ourselves up after a monumental loss … We lose a lot and we just keep soldiering on, because we love the show. We love each other. We love the characters and we’ll just keep going and get it to work. And it’s not easy but it is fun.

Image for article titled The Venture Bros. Creators on Superheroes, Super Nerds, and Saying Goodbye

Image: Courtesy of Adult Swim

io9: Without giving the plot away, the movie both resolves and leaves dangling certain big questions that have been at the heart of The Venture Bros. for a long time. Was that something you deliberately set out to do, tie up certain plot threads but leave others open-ended?

Hammer: We came to a conclusion between the two of us years ago that ending the show is nothing we’re interested in. The Venture Bros. lives on forever, and we knew that when it was time to end it that we would have to leave it open-ended. Because it’s not done—this show should live on in the fans’ heads. And these [characters], there’s never going to be a monumental thing where everybody collapses or a monumental thing where everybody saves the day. That’s not the show. It was never set up to be that show. So we knew that we were going to leave a lot unanswered. But we had a few questions that we thought, we need to get these out. And it was a bit of a puzzle for us to go, “We’re getting them out, yet even after these monumental ideas come out, we want to end it with: the show keeps going.” You know, the very last scene is the show going, “and the fight continues between these people.”

Image for article titled The Venture Bros. Creators on Superheroes, Super Nerds, and Saying Goodbye

Image: Courtesy of Adult Swim

Publick: But I feel like we answered the biggest questions. Not in the most direct way, but yeah.

Hammer: The show lives best in your third rewatch, I think. And that’s where the revelations really happen. The first time you’re kind of trying to digest this and keep yourself off Google to figure out what the fuck we’re talking about. And then when you finally have all that nonsense over, you can actually watch it—not for the comedy and not for the action, but like, what’s the information coming out in this.

Publick: And the 10,000 Easter eggs that were unintentional, but organic.

Image for article titled The Venture Bros. Creators on Superheroes, Super Nerds, and Saying Goodbye

Image: Courtesy of Adult Swim

io9: We talked about this some in 2019, but The Venture Bros. premiered several years before the first Iron Man movie came out in 2008, ushering in the MCU and the mainstreaming of superheroes. A character like Doctor Orpheus, for example, is now immediately recognizable to viewers as a riff on Doctor Strange. And the movie has some digs at Inhumans too. Where does the Venture Bros fit into that, and has it been affected by that pop-culture shift?

Hammer: I was more making a joke on what a nightmare it is to have to watch Marvel movies today. But it did end up [with] Inhumans being the, “Are you joking?”—the one that I goofed on. But look, the whole superhero thing is—I’ve just said this recently, but we didn’t win the Nerds Vs. Jocks War by making superhero movies ubiquitous. Superhero movies have now suffered, being run by jocks. As a nerd and somebody who grew up with this kind of stuff and revered this, I don’t recognize them as being—you know, my Aquaman is not this big, handsome guy with tattoos. I don’t recognize this guy. The humor is, we’re not really a part of it. I think if we’re part of it at all—and I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting—is that we showed a different path of how to play with these things, which is: this is what it looks like when true lovers of the genre who are as nerdy as their fans play with these things. I think it separates [out] The Venture Bros.

Publick: And makes them as flawed as their own souls.

Hammer: Yeah. We never made heroes. There was nothing super about any any of our characters. That was our take on just human beings. Not really superheroes.

Publick: I guess people get the references more, so that’s a net bonus for us? But the references—I mean, I loved when people didn’t get the references and they just thought we came up with a weird stretchy guy.

Hammer: Yeah, I thought when we did a Doctor Strange kind of guy, there were 10 people out there who were like, “Oh, it’s like Doctor Strange!” and everybody else is like, “He’s a magic guy,” you know? They didn’t need to know the reference.

Image for article titled The Venture Bros. Creators on Superheroes, Super Nerds, and Saying Goodbye

Image: Courtesy of Adult Swim

io9: You’ve said that even though the series may be over, you hope The Venture Bros. story continues on in the heads of fans. Are you feeling happy and satisfied with this ending?

Hammer: Me personally, it’s just… no. If somebody waved a carrot in front of my face and said, “Make more Venture Bros.,” I’d be like, “OK!” We’ve been doing this for 20 years. This is our family. I don’t have kids. This is what we made. And the idea of sending them off to college and they’re like, “Well, we’re not going to call. We’re not going to talk to you at all anymore.” To me it’s like… I don’t particularly like it. I don’t know if that’s the hip thing or the right thing to say when you end your show. But I love these people and I will never stop making them speak in my head. And Jackson and I can’t talk for five seconds without doing a [Venture Bros.] joke. It’s like we can’t stop. It’ll never die in my head, ever.

Publick: I concur. Given the fact that we had no choice but to stop here, I’m happy with how we did it. And it would be hard for me to write what comes next after this, but I would figure it out.

Hammer: Oh, I was setting it up! I’m like, “Hey, man, just in case… I know where they got to go now.” This is compulsive. Our entire adult lives have been writing this show. It’s us. It’s our relationship. My marriage to Jackson Publick is eternal. And our children, The Venture Bros., they’re our kids.

io9: Well, I think fans are going to love the movie. Maybe there’ll be a tidal wave of excitement and we’ll get a part two—more baboon heart blood. 

Hammer: I really hope so. There’s a lot of problems with streaming media, but the one good thing about it is these shows get to get new fans and kind of keep living on in perpetuity. And it’ll take a lot to kill The Venture Bros., you know.

Image for article titled The Venture Bros. Creators on Superheroes, Super Nerds, and Saying Goodbye

Image: Courtesy of Adult Swim

The Venture Bros.: Radiant is the Blood of the Baboon Heart will be available to purchase digitally July 21; it hits Blu-ray on July 25. It includes special features, including commentary by Publick and Hammer and a “making-of” featurette hosted by John Hodgman. You can also pick up The Venture Bros.: The Complete Series on both formats now; it includes all 82 episodes from all seven seasons.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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