Released on July 28, 2015, Justice League: Gods and Monsters is the most recent addition to the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line-up . During San Diego Comic Con 2015, Toonzone News and other members of the press sat down with executive producer Bruce Timm, co-producer/screenwriter Alan Burnett, director Sam Liu, dialogue director Andrea Romano, and actors Tamara Taylor (Wonder Woman), C. Thomas Howell (Will Magnus), and Paget Brewster (Lois Lane) for a roundtable interview.
Q: Are you trying to speak as the character as you or use a different voice?
TAMARA TAYLOR: I went in with preconceived notions, and I knew what Wonder Woman sounded like. I thought I was supposed to sound like Wonder Woman, and Andrea and Bruce kept saying no, let that go. We need a little more moxie. Sex her up a little. There was some interesting direction going on. Okay, I guess we’re going this way.
Q: Was there a particular Wonder Woman you took cues from going into this?
TAMARA TAYLOR: The original woman who plays Wonder Woman on the Justice League series. I watched a whole bunch of the movies, so I was very familiar with her voice. Very clean, very straight forward, very powerful. But they were asking me to sort of have fun. In this movie, Wonder Woman’s got a lot of one-liners, and she’s got some sass, and they were asking me to play that up and have fun with that as opposed to being so direct and powerful.
Q: This character has ties to DC history, how much research did you do?
TAMARA TAYLOR: I didn’t have a whole lot of time before we recorded to look into it. Of course, I grew up watching the TV series, and I like comic books, so I’ve read the basics, but oddly, there wasn’t a whole lot of help because this was completely different. There’s very little they kept the same, so I had to throw everything that I knew out the window and dive in.
Q: Did they tell you about the Bekka character?
TAMARA TAYLOR: They did not. They actually just said to let go of every preconceived notion you have about Bekka and just let her be what’s on the page here. Okay, that’s interesting.
Q: Did that make it easier or harder?
TAMARA TAYLOR: I think probably in ways it made it easier because like I said, I went in with a preconceived notion, and they pretty quickly said let that go and we’re going to create something entirely new, so at least I wasn’t trying to recreate somebody else’s performance, I was doing my own.
Q: Is this Wonder Woman totally different than any Wonder Woman we’ve ever seen?
TAMARA TAYLOR: I’ll leave that to you guys, but she’s certainly different than I’ve ever seen. Again, I really wanted to go for what I knew, my preconceived notions, and even having just seen the film, it took me a minute to get used to seeing that voice coming out of her. It’s interesting, it’s cool.
Q: Does your character on Bones share similarities with Wonder Woman?
TAMARA TAYLOR: It’s amazing because a lot of most of the performance in animation is the voice, and I got a pretty deep, powerful voice, but I found myself having to adjust many things because she actually required more power than Cam on Bones has ever wielded, so it was pretty intense.
Q: Do you prefer voice acting over regular acting?
TAMARA TAYLOR: Two completely different mediums, and I really like both.
TAMARA TAYLOR: We know that they have a history, and she kind of gives it to him in that one scene, but they don’t go into it too deeply. We just know there was.
TOONZONE NEWS: How do you prepare yourself for Wonder Woman’s physicality?
TAMARA TAYLOR: That was the hardest part. That was Andrea Romano literally walking me through the difference between taking a punch and throwing a punch. It’s like taking a punch and you go “Uggh” and when you through a punch is “Huggh”. Who knew? I didn’t know. There was a lot of physicality. It was, in moments, totally uncomfortable and way out of my depth, and I had a blast.
Q: When you were in the booth, how much were you getting into the fight scenes? Were you acting it out?
TAMARA TAYLOR: For sure. Absolutely. You have to because there are certain things your diaphragm does when you’re taking a punch or when you’re throwing one. Andrea Romano would literally say I need you go to “ARGH!” and you can’t fake it. You have to just go for it. So I was in my sweats and I just acted it all out.
Q: What’s it like working with Benjamin Bratt, who plays Superman and Michael C. Hall, who plays Batman?
TAMARA TAYLOR: It’s interesting because we did our stuff all separately, initially. Then when it was animated, they called us all back in. But again, we did most of it separately. Somehow Benjamin Bratt and I overlapped, so he and I actually got to be in the room together. It was really nice to interact and play and do a couple of those scenes together.
Q: How long did the voice over process take?
TAMARA TAYLOR: Longer than I ever could’ve imagined. I think I did the initial scratch vocals in January of 2014, and then I thought in June they told me they were going to call me back, and I was all excited, and June came and went and I was like what’s happening? Have they replaced me? Are we doing the movie? I guess it’s the process which I’m not familiar with, so finally I got a call at the beginning of this year saying it’s time to go back in, we’ve animated it, now you can go back and really do it.
Q: Have you seen the film and what do you think when you hear your voice coming out of Wonder Woman?
TAMARA TAYLOR: It’s a trip. She doesn’t look like the Wonder Woman I was expecting, so it made it a little easier but it’s surreal. It’s definitely surreal and a childhood dream come true.
Q: Do you have a favorite scene in the film?
TAMARA TAYLOR: I don’t know. There were so many. I literally just got the movie and sat down. I think tonight when I’m watching it and a little less in shock, I’ll figure it out.
TAMARA TAYLOR: I had fun doing this one. I really had fun doing this one. It was a lot darker.
Q: You’re the first person to do this Gods and Monsters Wonder Woman, she’s kind of your character now.
TAMARA TAYLOR: Yes. I like the way that sounds. Yay!
Q: Will this lead to a sequel?
TAMARA TAYLOR: I hope it does because this take on these particular characters is really cool. I think there are so many places that you can go.
Q: Would you do it again?
TAMARA TAYLOR: I would love to do it again, I had so much fun.
Q: Do you think there will be a crossover with this universe and the regular animated universe?
TAMARA TAYLOR: I hope so. We’ve got to talk to Bruce about that. That would be rad.
Q: What were your thoughts going into it and after you saw the script?
PAGET BREWSTER: I never saw the script. I just went in and Andrea Romano, our voice director, told me line by line, “OK, this is what’s going on.” I was like, “What is happening? I’m so confused.” Because this movie is an alternate reality. Everyone’s origin story is different. So who they are as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, they are very different from the characters that I know and have seen, so I was pretty confused, except that Lois Lane is still doing her thing. Our superheroes are altered and Lois Lane believes that they are villains, and she does not like Superman at all. She doesn’t believe him, she thinks he’s full of crap and busting him on it. So being in a dark sound recording booth on a Tuesday afternoon alone and reading those lines I was like, “What? Am I supposed to talk to him like that? Am I supposed to be cute about it? Are we flirting?” So I saw the movie right before I came here and was like, “What?” I still don’t know what’s going on.
PAGET BREWSTER: Correct, that’s why I was confused.
Q: Was it hard for you to talk back to that character?
PAGET BREWSTER: Yes because I didn’t understand what was happening. And I thought maybe they had a fight, I didn’t know if they broke up. They had a bad dinner and they got into a fight. I just did what Andrea told me to do, and it makes sense, you’ll see
Q: You’re playing Lois Lane, and she pushes so much of DC’s story. How was that and do you feel a certain amount of weight?
PAGET BREWSTER: Yes, a lot, and it’s also specific to this. I know Dana Delaney, and she had been Lois, and that freaked me out. Where’s Dana? I really like her. We hang out. I was confused. Does she not want to do it? Following in her footsteps…and also, for me, growing up, my Superman is Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder and she’s in my head of who my Lois Lane is. It’s a little scary and exciting.
To every single actor, we’re all damaged. Clearly, this is what we do for a living, but we’re all afraid someone’s going to be like, “You do not belong here.” We’re all afraid someone’s going to say, “You’re an imposter, you’re not good enough to be doing this.” Now I’m afraid that you’re all going to say in unison, “You should not be Lois Lane.”
Q: Did they tell you to ditch your preconceived notions of the character?
PAGET BREWSTER: I had done a couple of Lois Lanes for the web series Gods and Monsters, so I had already sort of established the character, which is really just me talking and being a newscaster because that’s what she’s doing in that universe. She had to remain the same Lois Lane for the audience to see how all of our superheroes are different and what those new altered origin stories are and how they became that way. Lois had to stay the same.
Q: You were the source of perspective.
PAGET BREWSTER: To a certain extent, because so many other people are altered. I think Lois is the human that allows humanity to see how this world is altered.
Q: With all the other Lois Lanes, how did you form your character?
PAGET BREWSTER: I had to hope that they didn’t make a mistake and that they wanted me to do what I do again, so I didn’t try to mimic anyone or incorporate anything that anyone had done before. I can’t imitate Dana Delaney. She did what she did, and she’s great, so I just did what I do. Maybe I’m lazy. Should I have done something?
Q: Do you have a favorite Lois Lane?
PAGET BREWSTER: Mine was Margot Kidder because that was what imprinted on me when I was a kid. That was the movie that I grew up with, so I think, “Well, I guess, I can snap around in my heels through the office and get the scoop.” I love it.
Q: Lois is known for her romantic entanglements. Are there any in this film? Is there romance with Lois and Superman?
PAGET BREWSTER: Is there any romance in any way? It’s a little sassy. There’s a little sass.
PAGET BREWSTER: Probably 80%. I’m just making that up, I really don’t know. I don’t know because really, honestly, voice acting is just that I know she’s going to be drawn. I played Lana Lang in another one of these, and I was a very large blonde lady, and I didn’t know. That was shocking to see. Maybe I would’ve done my voice differently, but I don’t know. It all gets put together after we do our job, so I guess probably 95% of me. I don’t know.
Q: What was Andrea Romano telling you to do?
PAGET BREWSTER: I think they hire me for the tone of my voice and speaking quickly, and I get excited to talk fast and be loud. It’s very physical. If you have to be running and saying something, I like doing it, but it’s really that Andrea knows in her head the tone that she needs. Is Lois angry, is she being flirty, is she ducking debris? That’s what you have to bring because it’s only half. I’m just doing the voice, then they’ll add what she is physically, so I just do what Andrea tells me. It’s very different from acting on film.
Q: So they don’t give you any type of production art?
PAGET BREWSTER: None. No.
Q: It’s all just verbal?
PAGET BREWSTER: Correct. And she’ll just say, “OK, the skyscraper is coming down.” Once we do our main character voice, then we go through and do all the people screaming or fighting or running, so she will just say, “The building is falling and you’re going to be crushed in a second, give me four screams.” You do all the screaming at the end of the day because you’ll blow out your voice. So then you’ll scream for five or ten minutes, and then she’ll say, “I need people crying,” and you cry for a little while.
Q: You’ve done alternate reality stories for the Justice League before, how do you approach this in terms of voice acting?
ANDREA ROMANO: I’m lucky enough that in my career, I’ve worked for a lot of different studios on a lot of different projects. I may do SpongeBob in the morning and Boondocks in the afternoon, which are completely different, right? So that’s how I do these projects. Each one is going to be different. We did Batman the Animated Series, and that was kind of a dark turn on Batman, and then we did Batman the Brave and the Bold, which was much lighter. This one was special because it’s an original story, which appealed to me a lot because we all got to throw out all our preconceived notions of what Batman sounds like or what Superman sounds like, and there’s no graphic novel that this is based on. You read a graphic novel or even a book and you hear the voices in your head of what you think the dialogue sounds like. This one, it’s all a surprise to everybody. Nobody has a preconceived notion because it’s a brand new story. Casting-wise, you look for actors that can just act the part. What is this Batman? Okay, this is a vampire bat. This is a different Batman. This Superman is not the son of Jor-El. He is Zod’s son raised by a Hispanic couple. So everything is different. It’s all different. You just go from scratch and wipe out all the stuff I’ve done before and just find the right actors for this. Michael C. Hall was somebody we wanted to work with for a long time. Ten years, at least, I’ve been after him. Dexter was all consuming for him. Benjamin Bratt, too. The timing just worked out and they were available.
Q: With this being an original creation, how did you get to the mindset to do it?
ANDREA ROMANO: Every session I do is similar in that my job is to get the best possible performance from the actor that the producer wants and — because we do the voices first — that the animation director can then make into a very good-looking, logical, dramatic piece. I had to get rid of my preconceived notions because whatever the last Batman is that I did, that’s clearest in my mind, and so I had to get that out of my mind. Okay, this is a different Batman. He’s got some real issues. Not the typical Batman vengeance issues, but different health issues, and very common problems that everybody comes along with. He just happens to be a vampire. So it’s all just dealing with each piece individually and just trying to get the best performance I can. I didn’t have any trouble with this in particular.
TOONZONE NEWS: You’ve cast so many characters from comic books, who was the easiest character to cast and who was the hardest?
ANDREA ROMANO: Well the hardest, of course was Batman. It was the first.
TOONZONE NEWS: From Batman the Animated Series?
ANDREA ROMANO: Correct. The very first time I had to cast Batman. I think I’ve cast Batman like 20+ times. The voice of Batman for various different projects. 20+ times, but the first time was the hardest. I’ve told it before, but I heard over 500 auditions. I personally directed over 150 callbacks, and then we narrowed it down to about 5 actors, and Bruce and I were like well, pretty much any of these actors could do this, and then Kevin Conroy walked into the door and we went “Ahh” and then we had our Batman for years. The easiest character to cast? The truth is none of them are easy. I always get worried because I may be convinced this is the guy, this is absolutely the guy, and I’ll convince Bruce, I’ll convince whoever I’m working with, and then the night before the session, I’ll start sweating. I’ll start worrying what if I’ve made the wrong decision? What if I’m wrong? Because I was convinced when I said it and I’m still sure, but because I’m so sympathetic to actors, I worry. If I ever have to replace an actor, it breaks my heart. I don’t ever want to replace an actor, so I do get sweaty, but I can’t tell you that there was anyone that was easy.
TOONZONE NEWS: Maybe the one that was quickest to cast?
ANDREA ROMANO: Well there’s always requests. When we were working on Batman the Animated Series, we came up with Harley Quinn. Paul Dini and Bruce created that character, and Paul said, “My friend Arlene Sorkin would be pretty good,” so that was easy. That one I would say was easy. I wanted her, I knew she could do it, that was done. But unless there’s a request or somebody that clearly is the right guy for the role, they are tough.
Q: Did you sit down with Bruce Timm and say “I see this guy having this tone?” Was there agreement or was there debate?
ANDREA ROMANO: There’s always a debate, and we sit together in a group like this, like in a round table, and there’s DC’s input, and there’s Warner Home videos input, and there’s Bruce’s input, and there’s the animation director’s input and mine, and everybody starts throwing out ideas. How about, how about, how about….and the truth was for this, we’ve been trying to get Michael C. Hall for years, and it just lined up. He was done with Dexter, he was more accessible. What was really cool was, when we had to do the ADR, the fight stuff mostly, we tracked him down again. Sometimes it’s 8, 9, 10 months between original record and post production when we’re doing the ADR, and he was on Broadway doing Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which is historically one of the most difficult voice performances ever written. The guy that created that actually had to stop, uncast himself, because it hurt his voice so much. So I’m calling Michael C. Hall, going I need you for two hours going “Hyuh, hwah, ahh!”
Q: Do you have a reaction to live-action casting of these characters?
ANDREA ROMANO: I like the voice industry so much, and I like the Batmen that we’ve used so much that I sometimes do question the voice work of some actors who play Batman. There are so many wonderful actors out there, but I sometimes wish that they’d watch our shows a little more because Batman can be convincingly produced vocally without getting so over the top. Is that diplomatic enough?
ALAN BURNETT: It’s whole new characters, which is great. I’ve been writing with Bruce for 25 years, and I go back to Superfriends. I actually wrote the last few seasons of Superfriends. I apologize for those. I was told, “You have to write your script so that a two year old could watch it.” Now today we’re going more adult. Somebody was asking me about the violence of this thing. It’s interesting because we want to get a PG-13 rating, and we do stuff where we wonder. It’s animation, and it’s abstract, and we get away with a lot more stuff that you would in live-action. In this one, there’s lot of adult themes and a lot of adult situations going on.
Q: Going back to Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and the rating, what was the issue with that that’s not an issue now?
ALAN BURNETT: It was just a different time and they wanted to advertise on Saturday morning and they couldn’t, and that’s just what changed it. Now a lot of the audience are adults and fanboys and it’s just a different audience, a different way of understanding it. That’s what worked out. Then we ended up with two different versions of Return of the Joker, so maybe they were happy to have two different versions of it.
Q: With alternate reality scripts, do you take a look at the characters and figure out how to make them darker? Or did you change who they were so this is not Kal-El, for example?
ALAN BURNETT: I’ve got to tell you that personally, I am not one who thinks genetics will make you good or bad. It’s you, and to me the thing we’re exploring is that the DC heroes pretty much hold back. They don’t kill in a life or death situation. They try their best not to do that. We created these characters who would. If it came to that, they would kill. And they were saying if these characters had this much power, and would they end up protecting us or in the end will they end up ruling us? That’s the central question. That’s why it’s called Gods and Monsters. Are these guys going to be heroes or are they going to be our despots?
ALAN BURNETT: I thought them as completely different characters. So Zod Superman has a whole different background from Clark Kent, and Batman is a vampire bat. He’s got a different background. He’s Kirk Langstrom, and we chose to use a character from the New Gods, Bekka, as the new Wonder Woman. She’s a completely different character, Paradise Island does not exist in this, so she’s a warrior with a pretty tragic background. They all are tragic, and they all come together. It’s my feeling that the government named them Justice League so that we’d accept them more as helpers and it’d be more of a partnership going, but there’s nothing much Justice League-y about them.
Q: Are there any difficulties in trying to write for an older audience and making an edgier product?
ALAN BURNETT: No. I enjoy writing for an older audience, but I’m also writing for an audience of adolescents that can look at it. We have our share of soccer moms who buy these, I hope for older kids. I like writing for adults, I’ve always wanted to do that, and this has given me the chance to do that. Producing stuff for adults.
Q: Would you say writing for children has a lot of restrictions and you have to worry about too much?
ALAN BURNETT: I find writing for real young kids very difficult because they don’t accept irony. I like writing for kids that are grade school and above. Batman Beyond, to me, was for 12-14 year olds. This actually became too old for the Saturday morning crowd, and that’s what caused its demise. I’ve written for all ages, and I enjoy writing for all ages. I’m writing right now a show for 6-12 year olds, which I can’t talk about except to say I’m writing for 6-12 year olds, so I like shifting from different things.
Q: You’ve worked with Bruce Timm quite a bit, what made approaching this project with him different? Or was it similar?
ALAN BURNETT: We have a lot of respect for each other, and we’ll argue with each other. God knows. And we talk to Geoff Johns about this and got his feeling about how it should go. We talked to Mike Carlin over at DC Comics. We’re not having trouble and it’s not rough going. I share the misery, and so does Bruce. And then after all the talk and all the ideas and all the desires for how the show should go, there came a point when it all clicked together. Strangely enough, there was a point where I realized that we were writing a mystery. It wasn’t a thriller or a comedy thriller or action piece, it was actually a mystery going on, and then it became like a hot knife through butter. The good stuff comes quickly. I felt good about it, and that’s how it came about. Bruce is reading everything I’m writing and making comments and doing revisions, and it’s just constant until final recording.
Q: Where you writing the web series alongside the film?
ALAN BURNETT: Afterwards we wrote the web series.
Q: It felt like there was a core philosophical question about ultimate power, is that how you approach these? With a core philosophical idea?
ALAN BURNETT: Usually it’s the villain’s desire. We’ve done Ra’s Al Ghul. How many times has he wanted to destroy the world to rebuild it again? He’s a man who believes in ultimate power. His power. So this is a question about what if you had heroes who were right on the edge, if they fell off that edge, how bad would it be? I guess that’s what it’s about.
SAM LIU: I was kind of thinking about that when I started it as well. I think the answer to it is characterization. Do you like the characters? The initial result is, this is not Superman. This is not Wonder Woman. This is not Batman. But once you get beyond that, you’re asking, “Do I like these characters, are they interesting, do I care about them about what they are?” It’s very important for us to make a compelling story.
Q: Why is now the time to tell this tale?
SAM LIU: Maybe the fans aren’t on to it, but I feel like every iteration of Batman is different. They’re not looking to remake Batman the Animated Series. So this one’s a huge departure because it’s not even anything close to that, but I think it’s something that Bruce has always wanted to do, something different. He explained it before. Even historically, the Flash that was the original one is not the one we know. He was reinvented. Sandman was reinvented. There’s quite a few characters that were reinvented. Green Lantern as well. We know them now as their reinventions, not their original versions. I think it’s shaking it up sometimes. Also, Bruce has been doing this for 20 years, I think he’s told pretty much every known hero story you can possibly thing of, so at some point, you have to change the character.
Q: Is this different than working on a regular film or other animated film?
SAM LIU: The hard thing about this — I don’t know if other directors have talked about this — we actually have a very short amount of time to work on these things, so a lot of the times we have to make quick decisions. As a director, you have to distill down very quickly. You have look at what your gut reaction is about things: what is this about, what it’s trying to be, what it is, and you have to just go with it. It’s not like a film where you have two years to go, “Let’s build it this way,” and if you test it and you don’t really like it, you build it again. Pretty much we only have two shots. We build it, we look at it in editing, and we try to fix what’s there. If it’s way off, then we redo elements of it. So I think in TV and things like this, as a director, they hire you because of your instincts. If your instincts are way off, you’re probably going to get fired. That means you have to redo almost the whole thing. So it is fun, but it is kind of stressful. And you have to live with your decisions.
Q: First reaction to looking at the script?
SAM LIU: It’s probably close to what fans are thinking. You know, “What is this?” Again, it goes back to the first question. This is very different, all right, what’s it about? I think even throughout the process, it started for me with the storyboard artist and the editor, even. Once we started it and the further we went along, I think we were pretty engaged with the story. What’s going to happen next? What’s going on with that character? This is what happened to that character and this is how he became this and how does that connect to the next thing? So I think structure-wise, it’s a pretty compelling story. But to answer your question, I think in the beginning for a lot of us, we were very skeptical.
SAM LIU: I don’t really see myself as too much a style director. I have influences, and I think it comes out. I feel like a lot of times I’m trying to identify moments, and I feel more like a character director, I suppose. If this person is a hero, if he does this, is that going to compromise his heroism? What makes him a hero? A lot of times I feel like I’m trying to push moments, push the story. This is why we feel for this person. Because his past is really tragic. Even though he does his stuff, this is why. For me, those are the things I’m interested in. What makes a person do the things that they do. Especially with this one because we’re already coming in with, I don’t want to call it a negative, but people are going to be skeptical, if they’re different. How do you make them likeable? Why do you care for them? For me, I spent most of my time trying to figure out is this going to impact the moment? Is this a moment that says something about their character?
Q: Was it difficult to get rid of your preconceived ideas of what Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were?
SAM LIU: In the beginning it was. In the beginning I had to do a lot of discussions with Bruce to go okay, she does this, but will she do that? Where’s his line, basically? So in the beginning, it was, okay, he kills people, but is he more of a hero or is he more Zod? How violent will he go? Is it he kills these people because they’re bad people or is it just because they’re in the way and I’ll kill them? So there was a lot of little fine line things that we had to talk about. So it took a little while to sort of get used to where the limits and ultimately what are they supposed to mean.
Q: Was there a particular look you were going for?
SAM LIU: Again, things like that, that’s Bruce. I was trying to make it as much as like Bruce as possible. In a noirish kind of way.
Q: What do you think of the Justice League after working on this?
SAM LIU: I think right now it’s it’s the first film, so they only focused on the first three characters. The world is very small, and like those introduction films, I think it’s compelling because you’re seeing these characters what makes these characters. Once you get beyond that, it’s like the Star Trek reboot. You’re interested because this is the new Kirk, this is the new McCoy, all that kind of stuff, but with the second movie, that novelty has gone away. Do you have a good story? Right now I like this because I think the characters are compelling. Right now I think it’s just because I’ve done quite a few things with Justice League, so that isn’t as new or as interesting to me anymore. I think this stuff is good.
Q: How difficult was it to transition from what you do with superheroes into this new story?
BRUCE TIMM: Not difficult at all. It was like a breath of fresh air. I think the traditional version of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are really rich characters. There’s tons and tons and tons of stories that we can still do with those characters even after all these years. This being a tangent universe where these characters are Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in name only, we can do anything with these characters and even DC Comics can’t say, “Oh you can’t do that because these aren’t the traditional Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.” They can’t come to me and say, “Batman will never do that.” Well this Batman might, so it’s incredibly freeing. It’s kind of nice to have like the chains are off completely, and we can go down any path. It’s actually a little bit scary. It’s like, wow, we can do anything, we better do something cool.
Q: Your version of Batman is Kirk Langstrom, Man-Bat. When making this Batman, did you initially think of Kirk Langstrom as the identity for the character or did you first think of the concept of Batman and then put him in it?
BRUCE TIMM: It was the vampire Batman first and Kirk Langstrom was an afterthought. It was really close together, though. My first thought was thatwhen I was a kid, I was always a fan of superheroes and monster movies. That was it, and from a very early age, Batman was always my favorite superhero. Part of it was just he looked really cool. He’s got the coolest costume in all of comics. He’s wearing a Dracula outfit, so it makes sense to make it literally vampire Batman. The minute I think of that, I immediately went right to the Kirk Langstrom file, and it totally made sense.
Q: What is the balance between coming up with ways to identify this as an alternative universe and telling a compelling story so that they’re not getting in the way of each other?
BRUCE TIMM: I don’t really see them as competing. For one thing, I think part of the fun aspect of these Elseworlds or “What If?” stories is that everybody knows the origin stories. You don’t ever have to do the Superman origin story ever again because it’s been done so many times. I understand why people want to do it, I’ve even done it myself, because it’s such a great story, you can’t help but want to do it. But that’s the fun aspect of it. You can go down that path and start off with that traditional origin story, and then as you’re going this way, it’s oooh, now you’re going that way and it’s kind of fun. It’s the same thing that applies to the entire world. There’s a lot of traditional DC supporting characters in this movie, but they react completely different in this world than you’re used to. A character like Lois Lane she’s still a reporter, but she hates this Superman. She thinks that Superman is a Superdick, so it’s different. A character like Lex Luthor, he’s in the movie as well, and he’s not a zillion miles away from the traditional Luthor, but there’s still things about him where his relationship with Superman is a little bit different than in the regular universe. So it’s kind of fun to kick the table over and see what happens.
Q: What is it about Batman that you love the most that maybe you relate to?
BRUCE TIMM: I get that question so often, and I never have a good answer for it. I don’t know that I necessarily relate to Batman. A lot of people say, “Oh because he’s just a regular guy and nobody can be Superman but anybody can be Batman.” It’s like yeah, anybody with a zillion dollars can be Batman. Good genes and good breeding and works out a lot, but I could never be Batman. I don’t know, a lot of it really just comes down to the costume. I think Bob Kane once described Batman as a combination of Dracula and Zorro. What’s cooler than that? He’s the good guy who dresses like the bad guy who scares the crap out of criminals. That’s as cool as it gets. All the “darker characters” in comics whether it’s Punisher, Wolverine or whoever, they’re all kind of in Batman’s shadow.
C. THOMAS HOWELL: That’s a loaded question because Will Magnus is known for creating the Metal Men, and he’s been around for a long time, but this is a new world for us. Without getting too into it, he’s sort of part of the origin of Batman in our story. They’re old friends, they’re school buddies. He’s a scientist trying to help his friend out who’s got a rare blood disease, and he inadvertently creates this sort of vampiric larger than life superhero. So they have a history together, and they’re friends, and their paths go off in different directions, but the humanity in the relationship remains, which is something that I think is really cool. When you see it, I think you’ll agree that showing their college days and relationships with girls and partying, at least that’s what Magnus was, has been very insightful because you see a little bit of what he’s capable of and why he becomes who he becomes.
Q: This isn’t your first time voicing for a DC Animated film. What did you enjoy about it that made you want to return?
C. THOMAS HOWELL: It’s the relationships, first and foremost. You need people like Andrea and Bruce and Sam, and you look forward to coming to work every day. Not just because it’s going to be creative, but they’re really super cool people. And that goes a long way for me. Whenever Andrea is involved for me, I’m in, but the cool thing is, I’m in a DC Universe with them right now, and when I was a kid, Saturday morning cartoons was all we had. So Superfriends was huge for me, and I was a big, big comic book kid. Loved animated stuff, and now to be a part of it is awesome. It’s funny because I’ve done a ton of stuff, and my kids could care less that I’m Ponyboy, but the fact that I’m Reverse Flash is badass.
Q: If you could pick one character to do, who would it be?
C. THOMAS HOWELL: I’d love to get on the other side. I do enjoy playing the villains a lot because I like to find the humanity in their faults and their flaws. I enjoy that. I think superheroes are better when their flaws are exposed, and a lot of them have many flaws, as we know. It would be a bitch, but I haven’t seen Aquaman done well, and that’s a lot of gym time, so I might not be the man for that. The villains can be a little out of shape and still get the job done but those guys got to do too many situps for me.