Henry Danger’s live-action adventure comedy spin-off series, Danger Force, sees narcissistic, indestructible superhero Captain Man/Ray (Cooper Barnes) and his inventor friend, Schwoz (Michael D Cohen), recruit 4 potential new superheroes – Chapa (Havan Flores), Miles (Terrence Little Gardenhigh), Mika (Dana Heath) and Bose (Luca Luhan) – to hone their new powers at Swellview Academy for the Gifted (SWAG). One day, these 4 – nicknamed the Danger Force – could grow up to become heroes like Henry Hart, aka Henry Danger (Jace Normal), who’s now off bringing justice to Dystopia.
But before they can don the cape, Danger Force will have to learn to control their powers and take Captain Man’s classes like LIE (Lying Is Everything), which is about concealing their superhero identities. The learning curve is steep, and the stakes are high, because they’re not even half-way through their first mission when they release a host of superpowered supervillains from Swellview Prison.
It’s a fun take on the superhero genre, where secret identities and strange powers are everything. We spoke to Danger Force creator (and Henry Danger executive producer) Christopher J. Nowak about some of the thought behind the series – and what makes it different from Henry Danger.
A SWAG course in character creation
How did you balance the writing so that none of the Danger Force kids got “left behind” in the story?
A lot of that work was done before we even started writing the scripts. I worked hard to create four distinct personalities for the Danger Force kids, and I also tried my best to make sure that those four personalities blended together in ways that would lead to some good comedy. So far, it seems like they do, since it hasn’t been too difficult to come up with fun stories involving all four of them. That said, there will always be a few episodes here and there that naturally focus more on just one or two of the characters. We do our best to spread those kinds of episodes out over the course of the season, so the audience (or the actors!) won’t feel like we’re leaving someone behind.
Did you change the Danger Force characters after getting to know Havan, Terrence, Dana and Luca?
We honestly haven’t changed the characters that much! In fact, sometimes we’ll write something and their parents will say, “That is Havan right there…” or “Did you know that Luca does that all the time?” (Disclaimer: In real life, Luca Luhan is very, very smart. So in that way he’s not like Bose at all).
Take us inside the writer’s room – how did you tie the Danger Force kids’ personalities into their powers?
I did make an attempt to link some of their powers to their personalities! I wanted to connect Chapa’s superpower to her anger because I liked the possibility that her hands might start sparking at an inconvenient time because someone is making her angry. And with Bose, I thought it would be funny [to make] a character who is not-so-smart, whose brain was the source of his superpower. I think Mika has a hard time not speaking up and speaking her mind, so I wanted to tie her superpower to her voice. And Miles is a character who knows he is on a unique path in life. He’s comfortable going anywhere, anytime, so it made sense to me that he’d be able to teleport.
What’s been one of the most fun debates you’ve had around superpowers this season?
This is pretty arcane, but before we shot the pilot I had a lengthy conversation with Tristan Dalley, the head of our Art Department, about whether or not AWOL displaces matter or replaces matter when he teleports into a space. This debate was sparked by an event that happens in the first episode of Danger Force, and I think we decided that AWOL replaces physical matter when he teleports into a space… I think… actually now I’m not sure what we decided…
How did bringing in so many new characters make you reflect on Captain Man and Schwoz?
I liked the idea that these new characters would have a different relationship with Captain Man and Schwoz than the characters in Henry Danger because unlike Henry, the four kids in Danger Force didn’t ask to get their superpowers – they were kinda forced on them. So they have more of a right to look at Ray and say, “You got us here. What are you going to do about it?!”
What guided your thinking as you developed Captain Man’s SWAG curriculum?
Ray’s narcissism. I think Captain Man’s ideal curriculum is “100 Stories That Reveal Just How Great I Really Am”. When I was thinking about a concept for a spinoff of Henry Danger I thought, “What if the school in X-Men was run by an emotionally volatile narcissist?”
Can you describe how you created this season’s new supervillains?
It varies. Sometimes we have an idea for an episode that we really like and we kind of reverse engineer the concept of the villain from there. Other times we come up with the idea for a villain and see if we can build an episode around them. That said, I have a soft spot in my heart for a lot of the villains from Henry Danger (both the characters and the actors who play them) so I don’t want to leave them all behind.
Finally, where do you find yourself doing your best thinking during the day?
In the writers room! Although we work via Zoom now because of COVID-related restrictions, my happy place is standing at a white board with a dry erase marker, breaking a story with the writing staff. My seat was the one closest to the whiteboard for the entire run of Henry Danger and for the beginning of Danger Force. It wasn’t a real rule that no one could write on the whiteboard except me, but… I mean… kinda nobody could write on the whiteboard except me. It was my happy place.
Watch Danger Force S1 on Sundays on Nickelodeon (DStv 305) at 19:00
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