In an interview with The Direct, Invincible co-showrunner and producer Simon Racioppa discussed the show's gory and R-rated elements and their role in the show's storytelling.
Brutal blood and gore are easily associated with the TV-MA-rated series — even down to its Season 1 title card. In each episode, as Mark Grayson's life got scarier and the story built up more, the logo became splattered with more blood.
By Season 2, the violence has only been amped up even more, something that has proved to be a controversial move among a contingent of the fanbase. Though the series is synonymous with brutal action scenes, some viewers feel that the second season's violence is a bit too overused and unnecessary.
Invincible Producer on Using Gore for Storytelling
Simon Racioppa, co-showrunner and producer of Invincible, spoke with The Direct about how the show's team doesn't use blood and gore for the sake of being gratuitous but rather to ground the characters' world in realism.
Invincible's Season 2 ramps up Season 1's brutality, but Racioppa said this was not to "do things gratuitously" or "top the subway scene from Season 1:"
"I like to think we don't do things gratuitously. There's never a point in which [we're] like, 'Oh my God, we have to explode 10 more heads, you know, we have to top the subway scene from Season 1.'"
Rather, the show's creatives want to ground the show in a sense of reality, so they portray "the real reactions" to the events unfolding on screen. He explained that, in the real world, "if Superman punched you, you would explode:"
"We're always like, 'What are the real reactions?' or 'What really would happen in the scenario if you had these super-powered characters ... fighting someone who's not super-powered?' Like, they would explode, if [they] got hit. If Superman punched you, you would explode. That's just kind of like what would happen. So we try to proceed from there."
However, Racioppa admitted that they "like to have a little bit of fun" and give fans a unique, character-driven final product:
"But then when we get into the scenes, we also want to give you great action, we want to do things that maybe other shows aren't quite doing. So I'm not gonna lie that we have a little bit of fun with that kind of stuff, but I hope it all comes from character."
He then explained that they "never set out to just write a big bloody action scene" and reiterated the focus first on character and conflict before gore and fights. Racioppa said that because of this, fights are able "to go crazy," with the "emotions" and "stakes involved" driving them:
"It all should come from characters. We never set out to just write a big bloody action scene, we set out to write a character scene and a conflict, and then let the action and the violence come from there. And we're like, 'Ok, if they are going to fight, well, the fight is going to be crazy, because these are the emotions involved, these are the stakes involved.' So Mark is going to be going all out because ... if he loses these terrible things are going to happen. So he's gonna go right to the wall on this, and so is his opponent."
Racioppa described how this results in "a crazy, big, violent fight," where everyone involved is "not holding back." He finished, saying that he hopes that Season 2 has action sequences that are "both grounded" and "sometimes very graphic" but ultimately "all come from character:"
"So that then naturally leads you into a crazy, big, violent fight, because these are superheroes and they're not holding back. So that's kind of how we approached the violence in the show. And hopefully, you know, we're going to continue to give you those kinds of, like, both grounded but also sometimes very graphic scenes going forwards, as long as they all come from character."
Brutality in Invincible Season 2
Warning - The rest of this article contains spoilers for the Season 2, Episode 3 of Invincible.
Right after fans finally learn more about Seth Rogen's character in the show, he is viciously destroyed. On the brink of death, Allen somehow has a chance to pull through before he is seemingly killed by Thaedus, someone Allen evidently looked up to.
Of course, this is not the most brutal scene in Invincible's history — the subway scene in the Season 1 finale, for example, could take that prize. But Allen, floating in space and being literally torn apart until each and every aspect of him has been broken, battered, bruised, or blown up, is certainly intense to watch.
However, as Simon Racioppa discussed, this gruesome scene is grounded in character. Fans saw that Allen is a being designed to take down the Viltrumites and become even more endeared to the character than ever before in learning his backstory and spending time with him.
The attack on Allen, and seemingly Thaedus' murder of him, are direct responses to Allen coming up with a realistic plan to stand a chance against the Viltrumite race. Further, seeds are planted that there is a spy on Allen's side, making the Viltrumites suddenly appearing to fight him plausible. The brutality then comes because of an established conflict, plot points, and character choices.
The first three episodes of Invincible Season 2 are streaming on Amazon Prime Video.