San Diego Comic-Con 2022 will mark the return of the Vindicators from Rick and Morty. The show’s superhero squad first appeared in the show’s season three episode “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender,” a memorable debut that inspired a comic—and now, some prequel digital shorts about the team.
io9 recently chatted with original episode writers Sarah Carbiener and Erica Rosbe before The Vindicators’ SDCC panel debut later this week. The duo returned to showrun and executive produce the digital series for Adult Swim’s YouTube channel with the original voice cast including Christian Slater as Vance Maximus, Gillian Jacobs as Supernova, Lance Reddick as Alan Rails, Maurice LaMarch as Crocubot, and Tom Kenny as Million Ants.
Sabina Graves, io9: What do you recall about working on the pitch for Vindicators that sparked the idea to continue the adventures through comics and now through these digital shorts?
Sarah Carbiener: Adult Swim approached us about rekindling the Vindicators, and we were so excited because in the Rick and Morty episode there’s so much backstory that’s hinted at. And so the idea that we would get to explore more of who these guys are and how they move through the universe was just like, “Yes, we will absolutely do that.”
Erica Rosbe: And especially the format of between two and five minutes, it is so small that you kind of get to explore things that other shows don’t because you’re not trying to shove it into a very standard plot. Like all plots kind of become the same plot at some point. And so for once, we were just like, we can go a little crazy because we have this very, very short format.
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io9: There are a lot of ways that the show riffs on pop culture and genre at large. And specifically Vindicators does a lot of sub-referencing stuff that’s in other big places. And I think it’s funny because we have a show that’s coming up that’s literally about a character who died in a big movie, and now they’re going to go back and to do their origin. Does the state of genre influence your take on these characters and letting us get to see who they were before their episode on [Rick and Morty]?
Carbiener: Yeah, one other thing that was really fun with these is you could just kind of step away from traditional plots. I think that we were able to explore the moments like behind the genre, like out of the genre. So it’s not typical superhero stuff. We really almost tried to free ourselves from the constraints of [how] superheroes are normally depicted and the kind of stuff we get to see them do. Like slice of life stuff. We tried to really think outside that box.
Rosbe: And a lot of that, I think, was leaning into their unique powers and physical make ups. So just what would the reality be if you are made of one million ants and what would your secret life be? So this is more down the line– but you know, “What’s a relationship like if you are an exploding star or a person who can summon ghost trains?” Which is, I think, relatable for all of us.
io9: At what point in the process of creating and pitching the Vindicators did the conversation with [producer] Justin [Roiland] become “Just roll with going to all these different places with them”?And do you think that this mini series might inform the possibility of their own actual show?
Rosbe: I do think part of the fun was being like, this is going to be its own unique, weird little beast. And so, yeah, I think that’s almost like the one thing that would be difficult to go into, like a full spinoff territory. Maybe it would be a super creative way to tackle it whereas this was sort of like “What entertains us? What have we never seen in this format before?”
Carbiener: Yeah and I think if we were to go down that path—because we kind of keep burning up the runway ahead of them—then they don’t really have a ton of way to move forward. I think if they’re going to be some crazy, awesome spin-off we would have to find a creative way to satisfyingly go back. You’ll find fresh stories from even earlier on their journey. And just because the way we’ve been working on these characters is just like, “How can we bring them to their lowest place and destroy them completely?”
io9: I love the voice cast that is assembled for this. Was it easy to get Christian Slater to come back as Vance? Were [the other original Vindicators] immediately game?
Carbiener: Christian Slater is actually a huge Rick and Morty fan. So he was super game and super excited and it was so, so fun. And as children of the ‘80s, you know, we died.
Rosbe: And so because this whole entire show was produced over Zoom, it was that kind of thing where you’re in your room and then Christian Slater is in the Zoom box, voice recording and stuff—and then you turn off your computer and you’re like, “Was that a dream? Did that happen? This is insane.”
Carbiener: That was really fun and getting to have everybody back from the original, like Lance Reddick, was amazing. It was a dream to get to work with all those people again. It’s just so much fun to make them say and do crazy things. We got to have, you know, Brain from Pinky and the Brain just make grunting orgasm noises for 20 minutes. And it’s like, how often in life do you get to do that?
io9: Being a kid that grew up with movies from the ‘80s and ‘90s, I’m also a big Christian Slater fan—Heathers was one of my first fandoms. What were some of your first and do you have any stories of how deep into the fandom were you?
Carbiener: Well, I mean, not to steal your fandom, but like Heathers was like my sleepover movie when I was way too young to be watching Heathers. I have all the cast recordings from the musical. Big, big Heathers fan.
Rosbe: I still love Reality Bites more than anything. I still can quote, I would say, that entire movie. It’s still just so much a part of, even now approaching being much older, like “all you have to be by the age of 23 is yourself.”
Carbiener: I’m just thinking about those, like, first forays into fandom. I learned who David Bowie was from Labyrinth. I can very much quote that movie. I watch it now and I’m like, “Wow, there’s no plot.” But if you had told me when I was younger that it wasn’t the most perfect movie ever made, I think I would have just attacked you, you know? Other than that, pretty typical stuff like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek.
io9: With Comic-Con coming up have you all participated in cosplay or themed events, like the annual Labyrinth-themed dance in LA?
Rosbe: I went to the last Comic-Con and I was seven months pregnant, so I went dressed up as Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew. Everybody was confused about it. I don’t know if my costume—which my husband made—was amazing. It was a lot of fun.
Carbiener: We both have small children, and we dress them up as characters from The Boys. Halloween before last, Erica’s daughter was…
Rosbe: She’s very blond, so I was just like, I have to do something with this. And she was so Homelander-looking—she was like one [year old] at this point.
Carbiener: Yeah, I tried to do a Butcher beard for my [kid]—oh, god, I don’t even think she was one [year old] yet. My mother-in-law made all the costumes and she insisted on making her dress so she was also Starlight as a two for one. Very, very cute. But yeah,I would say my barely alive toddler has done more [cosplay than me].
Rick and Morty digital shorts The Vindicators premiere July 23 on Adult Swim’s YouTube channel.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.