The latest animated feature from DC Universe Original Movies, “Justice League vs. Teen Titans,” made its world premiere at WonderCon. Following the film’s screening, key voice talent and crew spoke to the press, about the movie.
While the iconic teams do clash, the film’s overall focus is on Batman/Bruce Wayne’s son, Damian Wayne, and his penchant for causing problems. For his poor behavior, Damian finds himself reassigned from the Justice League to the Teen Titans, only to cause more trouble from his new position. Worse yet, the Teen Titans must butt heads against the Justice League, which has been compromised by the recently escaped demon (and father of Teen Titan Raven) Trigon. Using his abilities, Trigon gains control of the Justice League and uses them do his evil work. Thus, the scene is set for an epic battle.
The clash between the two superteams sprung, in part, from the idea of bringing Damian Wayne back to the animated universe. “I thought it as an opportunity, to have a Robin who was a handful and different than the Burt Ward/Dick Grayson version. And, also, he’s Batman’s son, which makes it a whole different thing,” explained Producer James Tucker. “The minute I knew we were gonna do Damian, my mind immediately jumped forward to the Teen Titans. The comics hadn’t done that, which I didn’t understand because he was such a big popular Robin at the time. I thought, ‘He shakes things up, and the Teen Titans could use a little shaking up.'”
Character designer Phil Bourassa handled much of the task of bringing Damian’s look to animation in this and the character’s previous appearances, and the character’s loud personality made translating him to animation a bit of a challenge. “So, I’m a big Dick Grayson fan. I like the classic Robin,” said Bourassa. “He’s got the same tragic origin as Batman, but he’s not dark and grim. He brings levity and fun. But, once I got my head around Damian I was like, ‘I like this jerky, stuck-up Robin.’ The cool thing was that he had never been on screen before.”
The actor behind the voice of Damian had similar thoughts on the character. “He’s more of a lone wolf and he doesn’t like being part of team,” Stuart Allan explained. “That’s why he likes working on his own. I feel that’s partially because he never had a chance to connect with a real childhood. He was always preparing to take over the world from Ra’s al Ghul. Being with the Teen Titans really teaches him that he doesn’t have to have the weight of the world on his shoulders.”
Damian’s father, Batman/Bruce Wayne, voiced by Jason O’Mara, is conflicted by his son’s behavior, an aspect of the character O’Mara said caused him to change his performance. “There’s sort of a third voice that Batman has when he’s around Damian,” he said. “I don’t feel like he would be the gruff, no-nonsense Batman when he’s around his son.” As a father himself, O’Mara found that he could truly relate to Batman in the role of a father.
Batman must also contend with Superman, played by Jerry O’Connell. “I will say, the most interesting relationship is with Batman, as far as I’m concerned,” said O’Connell. “There’s a little bit of rivalry, and a little bit of jealousy. There’s definitely a kinship there.” Off-screen, O’Connell and O’Mara have a little bit of a rivalry as well. “I do go to the gym more often when I play [Superman]. I’m actually not even joking. You want to look bigger when you’re recording. And I cannot let Jason be more muscular than me when we’re shooting, because I do not want Batman do have an advantage over Superman in any way.”
Other members of the Justice League have their struggles in the film as well. The Flash “has to contend with Dark Magic and that’s something you can’t outrun,” said Chris Gorham, who plays the speedster. But, in typical fashion, he does make time for humor, wich was a nice twist for Gorham. “It’s very flattering to have been cast for a character that is so funny, because nobody laughs at my jokes at home.”
The Teen Titans face their share of difficulties as well. As Damian grows, so too does Starfire. “She really comes into her own and matures into a leader of the Teen Titans,” said Wahlgren. “She’s still kind of figuring it out through the movie. There’s no more difficult test than being pitted against the Justice League.”
“Justice League vs. Teen Titans” will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 12.