Writer Zak Penn on SyFy’s Alphas

Screenwriter Zak Penn heads to Cable with the new series, Alphas.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Zak Penn seemed to be Marvel’s go to guy, though most of his work hasn’t actually been filmed. He wrote X-Men: The Last Stand, and story credit on X2. The Incredible Hulk was a reworking of an original script of his. He also wrote The Avengers, before Joss Whedon did. He got to create his own superheroes with Syfy’s Alphas, so when we got to talk to him for that, we covered all things comic book.


CraveOnline: Last time we spoke you were hard at work on The Avengers script. How do you feel about the way that project developed?

Zak Penn: Do you believe in Joss Whedon? Do you believe in him? I believe in him. That's my comment. If you believe in Joss you should be excited.


CraveOnline: Well, as a fan, yeah, as a fan I'm excited. Can you be excited, regardless of your own work?

Zak Penn: I am. Actually Joss and I went to the same college so we have a long history. So I'm excited that he's [doing it.] I'm very excited. I can't wait to see what happens with it, and it's weird because this is kind of almost the inverse. If you know the comic book world, this is kind of the flipside of something like The Avengers. So it will be weird next year to have Avengers coming out while I'm working on this show.


CraveOnline: Do you even know in vague terms how much of your script might remain?

Zak Penn: I just can't answer any of it because I'm not allowed to. I mean literally they make me [sign]. I have a big mouth, too, but they make me sign a contract.


CraveOnline: In Alphas you’ve got strength, enhances senses, hyperkinesis, electromagnetics and thought manipulation. Could there ever be one who can fly?

Zak Penn: No flying. No laser beams coming out of eyes. No capes. That's kind of the rule.


CraveOnline: How have you enjoyed the process of developing a long term TV series versus the movie screenplays you've done?

Zak Penn: It's really different. I mean, it's fun. It's really fun. It's a lot more work, I've got to tell you. It's a lot more work. But it's really cool being able to kind of flesh out the universe of it. I mean that's something that I kind of had to do it writing sequels to the X-Men movies. But it's new for me.


CraveOnline: Were you interested at all in DC properties?

Zak Penn: I am but partly because if you know the comics, DC tends to be more larger than life, more mythological. The characters are less based in a human [world.] Superman is something out of fantasy, not out of science fiction in my mind. And so I've always been more drawn to Marvel, even when I was a kid.


CraveOnline: I always got sh*t at the comic book store for reading both of them.

Zak Penn: By the way, I did read both of them. I just mean the movies are harder for me to imagine, honestly.