Saturday, October 3, 2015

Marvel's Damage Control

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Marvel TV has reportedly ordered a pilot for Damage Control, which will be a half-hour comedy series airing on ABC and developed by Ben Karlin.  This is in addition to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff series Marvel’s Most Wanted, starring Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse and Nick Blood as Lance Hunter.  Presumably, the TV series rumored to be in the works from John Ridley is still a thing, too.

In other words, next year we could see no less than five Marvel series on ABC!  Wow, that pretty much takes up every night of the week…  But that’s a completely different topic!

For now, because I doubt there are a lot of people who know what Damage Control is, here is a quick summary of what it is, who is involved, and what we might see them doing on the series.

Nickel Summary:  Damage Control is a company that repairs and cleans up property damage caused by fights between superheroes and super-villains.  Oh, and there was a Damage Control Easter egg near the end of Iron Man, that the company was repairing the damage caused by the final battle.

Slightly More Detailed History

Damage Control was originally founded by Anne Marie Hoag and owned jointly by Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Wilson Fisk (Kingpin).  How Iron Man and New York’s “Kingpin of Crime” became business partners is beyond me, but they were—at least for a little while.  Eventually both Stark and Fisk sold their stock in the company and it was eventually bought up by Hoag, who had received a loan from S.H.I.E.L.D.  I guess you could say that this creates a close business connection between Damage Control and S.H.I.E.L.D.

Damage Control has been involved in quite a few major events in the MCU, primarily as the group sent into to repair the damage afterward.  That’s not always the case, though.  For example, Damage Control had a run-in with the Silver Surfer and Galactus after an anal-retentive Damage Control employee acquired an artifact that gave him cosmic powers and subsequently attempted to “clean up” the universe.  Over the course of its publication history, that’s actually happened to Damage Control several times, where employees find or steal artifacts or weapons left behind after superhuman battles.

However, a more sinister storyline came when the then-CEO of Damage Control was implicated in the Stamford Disaster (you know, the thing that sparked the Superhuman Civil War) because he had provided the super-villain Nitro (the guy that went “boom” and vaporized 600 people) with Mutant Growth Hormone to enhance his powers.  Presumably, he did this in order to increase the potential damage caused by Nitro, thus increasing the potential profits for Damage Control.  Naturally, Wolverine found out about it; it wasn’t pretty.


Over the years Damage Control has had a lot of different characters, so I will just focus on a few here.

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Anne Marie Hoag is the founder and owner of Damage Control and a good friend of Nick Fury.
Robin Chapel is the current CEO of Damage Control and was previously the Director.
John Porter worked in “superhero insurance” before joining Damage Control.
Gene Strausser was a technician with Damage Control, but at one point stole weaponry and armor from Damage Control and used it to become a super-villain.  While in prison he was rehired by the company after Hoag retook control of it.  He served part of his sentence in a work-release with Damage Control.
Walter Declun is the former C.E.O. of Damage Control who gave M.G.H. to Nitro.  Wolverine cut out his eyes.

Damage Control has also employed a number of superheroes, some of whom could potentially appear in a TV series:

Hercules is the Greek god of legend, kind of like Thor.  He did community service with Damage Control before being hired full-time.
Tom Foster, a.k.a. Goliath, is the nephew of Bill Foster and took up the Goliath mantle after his uncle was killed by the Thor clone during the Civil War.  He joined Damage Control after World War Hulk.
Abigail Dunton, a.k.a. Visioneer, is a psychic who helps locate trapped civilians.
Eric O’Grady (the third Ant-Man) also worked for Damage Control for a while.
Robbie Baldwin, a.k.a. Speedball, the leader of the New Warriors (the team that kind of caused the Stamford Disaster) was an intern at Damage Control for a while.
The Wrecking Crew are employees of Damage Control in the Ultimate Universe before receiving their powers and leaving to become super-villains.

Possible TV Series Stories

I can envision several different options for episodes of this series.  Some of these are actual episode patterns, while at least a couple are things that should be present in some episodes.

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The first thing that this series needs is to have tie-ins with everything from around the MCU.  Movie actors who may not have the time to record a full hour-long TV episode might be able to stop by on an extended lunch break to record a 5-minute cameo for a 30-minute episode.  Damage Control can be involved with everything from cleaning up after the major battle in Captain America: Civil War to redecorating after Luke Cage’s bar burns down on Jessica Jones to renovating buildings that get damaged by new Inhumans on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  If they play their cards right, Damage Control could become the series that really ties everything in the MCU together.  Along those same lines, this series can also expand the MCU by introducing new heroes and hinting at events all around the world that are not shown in other media.

The second thing it needs is good story, not just good comedy.  What makes a series like The Big Bang Theory so good isn’t just the comedic elements, but the characters and relationships around which the comedic elements come together.  It’s not enough for Damage Control to be funny; it has to have a story that we want to watch and it has to have characters we want to know more about.

Third, I really like the idea of having superheroes working for Damage Control, whether as full-time employees or as part-time help.  Hercules is the most obvious choice, considering that he is a regular member of the team.  Another option is to introduce the Wrecking Crew as a group of regular Damage Control employees who eventually receive superpowers when Loki enchants a crowbar, giving them the power of Asgardians (yes, that’s actually how they get their powers).  Third, they may have a few Inhumans working for them as well, whether people with super-strength to move heavy objects or even a psychic to help locate trapped civilians.  They could even bring in Daisy on occasion (getting back to point one) to help break up massive pieces of rubble.

Some of these episodes can and should deal with cleaning up and rebuilding after superhuman battles.  The important element of these episodes, however, shouldn’t just be watching a bunch of guys pick up the trash—we already got that in “The Well” (AoS 1x08) when the S.H.I.E.L.D. team was picking up the trash from Thor’s battle in London.  Instead, the focus can be more on the characters and their interactions.  Perhaps the humor of these episodes is the kind which people in those professions use to escape from the horrors they are witnessing.  That kind of character development would add an interesting twist to the series.

Another option is for some episodes to deal with the fallout of people getting their hands on weapons and artifacts which they shouldn’t be touching.  For example, I think a funny pilot idea would be the following:

"Edifice Rex,"
Cosmic Anal-Retentive

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Damage Control is cleaning up after some space debris fell to Earth.  However, as they are cleaning it up, one of the workers (an anal-retentive guy with a personality like the Stapler Guy from Office Space) finds a piece of space junk, picks it up, and becomes a virtually-all-powerful cosmic being.  What does he then do with this power?  He repairs the rest of the damage with a thought, and then cleans up the entire city.  Then he disappears and Damage Control has no idea where he is.  They only learn when the Squadron Supreme appears to tell them that their friend is “cleaning” the cosmos by organizing the stars by magnitude and no one in the universe has the power to stop him.  Robin Chapel, the director of Damage Control, realizes that the only way to stop him is by firing him, which she does, leaving him completely dejected and powerless.  Hercules takes the artifact away from him, he loses his power, and Damage Control rehires him.

Is that zany and weird?  Yes.  Is that completely out of left field?  Yes.  And that’s where the humor comes from.

Season-Long Story Arc

Assuming that this series takes place in the MCU (a good bet since “It’s All ConnectedTM”)—and even if it doesn’t, to be honest—I think it needs to have some sort of overarching plot to hold it together.  Fortunately, the comics offer a possibility.

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As stated above, the new C.E.O. of Damage Control, Walter Declun, was partly responsible for the damage caused by the Stamford Disaster because he gave Mutant Growth Hormone to a super-villain.  On the series they could work with something similar using the Wrecking Crew.  After they receive their powers, the Wrecking Crew uses their positions at Damage Control to commit a burglary while ostensibly repairing damage that they themselves caused.  However, after discovering what had happened, the C.E.O. then tells them he will pay them to cause excessive amounts of damage, thus increasing the demand for Damage Control’s services and increasing their profits.

The season-long arc would involve the regular Damage Control workers uncovering the conspiracy and working to get Declun arrested and the old C.E.O. (Anne Marie Hoag) reinstated.


I think that Damage Control is a concept with a lot of potential as a TV series.  If it is done right, it could connect the whole MCU together the way that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did in season 1—but better.  It could both further the story from the movies and other TV series and introduce concepts and heroes which can be fleshed out by the movies and other TV series.  And if they work in the hijinks that come with ordinary people having to deal with extraordinary circumstances, it could be hilarious.

Besides, the worst-case scenario is that the series only lasts a single season and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Marvel’s Most Wanted pick up a few more recurring characters.

What do you think of the announcement of a Damage Control TV series?  What do you want to see on it?  Let me know in the comments.

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