The next DC Animated film, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is coming in 2015, but some cast and crew made the trip out to New York Comic Con to give a special first look to the fans in attendance, and give an inside look into the making of the film.
Stephen from Yahoo came out to moderate the panel. He introduced character designer Phil Bourassa, writer Heath Corson, casting and voice director Andrea Romano, producer James Tucker, and star Matt Lanter, the movie’s Arthur Curry aka Aquaman.
Tucker explained that Aquaman was omitted from Justice League War so that he could be featured in his own movie with an origin story. “Geoff Johns himself was the one who made the suggestion: save him for his own movie, he deserves his own movie.”
Bourassa said that “cosmetically we’re trying to take as much as we can from the New 52, but we’re trying to weave our own narrative. We used the New 52 look as a springboard – a lot of it works really well, and it’s not an overly complex design, so it lent itself well to animation.”
Any Easter Eggs we should be on the lookout for?
Tucker said, “The end of this movie definitely teases the next movie. And you haven’t heard the end of Orm, I’ll put it that way.” It’s unclear whether he meant another Aquaman movie, or Batman Vs Robin or Justice League: Gods and Monsters, both of which have already been announced.
The look of characters being underwater adds “a subtle motion to all the characters,” Bourassa noted.
There are several returning actors in the same roles as in War. Rosario Dawson is a new addition as Wonder Woman, and Romano said “she’s such a fan of this stuff, we’ve been trying to find something new for her to do and this worked out.”
She then told her own story. “We had every intention to bring as many of the actors back as we could. We wanted Shemar Moore to come back as Cyborg – he did such a good job and had such fun doing it. We tried for 3 months to get him, his schedule was so crazy we couldn’t get him to do this movie. So I hired another actor, and he recorded it and did a fine job. But Moore’s agent called after the animation came back and said he was free again – so we wanted that continuity (the other actor will do something else for us). So Moore had to come in and record over the animation – which was animated to the other actor’s voice, something very difficult to do. I was so impressed.”
She talked about the casting process, and how they pair actors together, “it’s really a big puzzle putting together the right group of people who are living in this world together.
“It’s important to know whether Superman is a big behemoth or a more slender version – those two things need to sound differently.”
Romano prefers ensemble recording for the various responses that can happen there. “There are something like 27 actors in this piece – there isn’t a studio in Los Angeles that can record that many at one time, so we had to do it in portions, of course.” Lanter had to record solo this time around – he did ensemble recording for Star Wars The Clone Wars, though.
Corson has no problem with line-changes or improvisation. “It still has my name on it, so if they make it better, I still get credit for it, it’s my script!”
Lanter talked about this version of Aquaman, saying, “he’s awesome!” He went on, “For me, I wanted to figure out who is Arthur Curry in this moment. He’s just a person who’s damaged on the inside, and this is his journey through that.”
“The lines were there, the story was there – it was already interesting,” he said, explaining why it was fairly easy to jump in.
A clip from the film was next, the first footage shown outside of the trailer.
It’s the bar scene from the trailer, but the full scene. In it, Arthur Curry is drinking and talking to a lobster in an aquarium. Mera sits at the end of the bar staring at him. He gets into a fight with five thugs, and just keeps taking his lumps, while occasionally throwing them around, and while he’s sloppy, he eventually takes them all out. “Thanks guys, I needed to blow off some steam.” One tries to stab him (as also seen in the trailer) and he says, “Huh, I always kinda wondered about that.” before throwing him in the water. He released the lobster at the end, as Mera continued to look on in disguise. She dropped her disguise and jumped into the water aaaaaaand scene.
“I know it’s wrong but I really want lobster right now,” Romano said.
They discussed the ADR – when sound effects are recorded. For that 3 minute clip, about 4 hours of ADR had to be done.
With that, the panel turned to Fan Q&A.
“When someone approaches you and asks if you want to play a superhero, you say Yeah,” Lanter said. “It’s so cool to be in the Justice League!” He liked “starting new with his origin story.”
Any plans for a big Batman family film?
Tucker: “I would love to do that. If I love it, it will happen.”
Could Aqualad from Young Justice appear in an upcoming film?
Bourassa: “We did have Aqualad in Flashpoint!”
Tucker: “If Young Justice comes back in any way, you gotta have Vietti and Weisman doing it – we wouldn’t make it happen ourselves. There are new ways to deliver DC animated material – online, in shorts, everything, these DVDs. While I can’t say it’s gonna happen, chances are it will down the line.”
Going just New 52 in films now, or also pre-52?
Tucker: “Both. We’re not even just doing New 52 stories – we’re just using it as a springboard to establish this new DVD continuity. It’s like how Marvel has their movie continuity – that’s what we’re doing here. So if there’s a story we like from before it, we’ll do that but it’ll be an adaptation with some changes.”
What’s enduring about Aquaman?
Tucker: “Well, I mean… Everyone knows about Aquaman, even if they may think of him in less than stellar terms. He’s a well-known character, everyone knows about him even if they’re making fun of him. He has name recognition. That’s a good thing. We’re taking advantage of that knowledge and showing them the real deal – who Aquaman really is.”
A fan loved the over the top violence in Flashpoint and asked about more violence in future ones.
Corson: “Might I recommend Assault on Arkham?”
Tucker also said, “This was an R rating but not because of violence, but it isn’t any longer, that’s all I’m saying.”
Any chance of a Justice League International movie?
Corson: “I’d write it!”
To clear up the continuity question:
Tucker: “We do three movies a year – two will be in-continuity and off the art style of Phil Bourassa. Then one is a one-off in whoever’s style. The story dictates the style.”
Lanter was asked about the contrast of playing Anakin and Aquaman.
Lanter: “A lot of similarities there. Anakin was the chosen one and didn’t want that, and it’s similar for Arthur Curry.”
Romano has cast Batman 18 times, and “it never gets easier – everyone has an opinion on it. A lot of fans really think that Kevin Conroy is the only Batman” (lots of applause) “He’s stunning. And I’ve hired so many, but when I prep a script, it is Kevin’s voice I hear.”
Asked about direct references to other movies in the continuity, Corson said, “we want each movie to be watchable on its own. But it is really fun to play off of things established in previous films.”
Asked about other featured character films, Tucker said, “Well, the people who sell these say that Batman and Justice League in the title means it’ll sell more. We want to give other characters the spotlight. Our goal is to introduce those characters using these ones as the gateway.”
Do you think of someone as a modern day Mel Blanc, and can anyone have the longevity of June Foray?
Romano: “She’s phenomenal. She worked until 92? She’s pretty remarkable. Maybe! For the first part, Frank Welker comes pretty close, John DiMaggio is pretty talented. In a different way Dee Baker, Rob Paulsen.
“When Mel was working, it was him and about five other actors doing every voice. Now there are thousands. I’ll give you one great example of him – the Speedy Gonzalez cartoons, there were 7 different Mexican mice, and that was all Mel. Think about how hard that is, how hard it is to come up with one Mexican mouse voice, let alone 7 and make them all sound different!”
Any chance of feature releases for these animated films?
Tucker: “The feature guys are trying to get themselves going right now. We’re happy doing what we’re doing.”
One final clip was shown, featuring Aquaman and Mera fighting alongside each other against The Trench. The Justice League joined them, with Flash first (naturally) on the scene. Everyone else came flying in and kicked some Trench butt. It was fun.