The DC animated universe began with Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series and was further expanded with a futuristic Batman in Batman Beyond co-created by Alan Burnett.
The two legendary creators recently teamed up on Justice League: Gods and Monsters, featuring DC Comics’ most iconic characters Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman all reinvented as darker versions of their heroic counterparts.
In the film, the Justice League are known for their controversial methods of dispensing justice, so when they’re framed for murder, the U.S. government believes these “gods and monsters” have turned on the people of earth and it’s time to fight back. The Justice League has to discover who’s behind the frame-up while discovering what it means to be heroes.
We spoke with the cast and crew of the animated feature during Comic Con International at San Diego, and discussed what it was like to step into such a different version of the DC Universe. Criminal Minds star Paget Brewster kicked things off, talking about her role as Lois Lane:
“Some great ladies have played her [Lois Lane], and it was intimidating to play her. She’s still reporting, doing her job on these superheroes who she believes are evil villains. I wasn’t allowed to read a whole script, so I had no idea what was going on until I saw the final film.”
“I grew up with Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, and to be Lois in any iteration is exciting but if I did too much research I’d freak myself out and feel really guilty since I just started playing the character. And Dana Delay did such an amazing job so I just went in and said my lines and did my version of the character.”
When asked what might Lois Lane’s alternate career would be. Brewster said,
“She could be a really bossy cookie store owner or maybe a cruise ship activities director like Julie from Love Boat. Listen, Lois Lane loves Love Boat and just wanted to grow up to be Julie.”
Wonder Woman is perhaps the most legendary character in DC Comics, and Tamara Taylor of Fox’s Bones talked about her first time voicing the iconic character:
“It was amazing to be cast as Wonder Woman, and what little girl didn’t want to be Wonder Woman? It was a surreal process and very interesting to let go of what we knew about her history in this upside down town version.”
“I worshiped that show [Lynda Carter]. Aside from the fact that my Wonder Woman has some unresolved issues, I was a little bummed that mine wasn’t the traditional version. What was interesting was her backstory. The movie does a flashback and we discover what made her this way and it’s pretty damn cool. She got her heart broken and it was this sort of vulnerability that made her this bad ass figure we see before you.”
As a first timer in the role, we asked if she had any advice for Gal Gadot in the upcoming Batman v Superman movie:
“Be free and don’t have a problem kicking ass. I took me a while to unleash but once you kind of go there it’s so much fun.”
Although Benjamin Bratt and Michael C. Hall weren’t in attendance, casting director Andrea Romano shed some light on how Hall landed the role as Batman:
“I’ve always wanted to work with him and we’ve offered him roles over a two year period but his schedule just didn’t allow for it. Reading the script some of that dialogue just sounded like dialogue out of Dexter. Michael is just a good actor and played the role not trying anything Kevin Conroy did.“
Romano also revealed that she’d love the opportunity work with Kyle MacLachlan and Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek on a future project, “…but I have to find the right part for them.”
Director Sam Liu briefly spoke about working on the project, and talked about a passion project he’d love to work on:
“I don’t know if the audience would be ready for it, and I don’t know how you would do it since it all drama. But I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, while I’d love to do it, I don’t how you would do it.”
Alan Burnett penned the screenplay for Gods and Monsters and opened up about how the project came about and talked about how freeing it was to write more “adult” versions of these characters:
“Bruce one time showed me these drawings of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman and we wanted to see what would have if your heroes would kill villains. Similar to “Elseworld”, we have a different version of Lex and Lois as well as 25 or so other characters in the movie. Some show up so quickly you might miss them.”
“Good things come quickly sometimes, and suddenly the world opened up and we ended up with a script. It was really freeing to look at these characters and ask what can we do to make them different. But at the same time I was worried because the characters aren’t likeable at the very beginning but by the time Wonder Woman’s backstory comes into the picture the audience will sympathize and begin to see core elements of the characters.”
We asked if given the chance to revisit the world what story elements would he be most interested in further exploring”
“Yes there are ideas I’d love to explore, but I can’t tell you what they are otherwise DC would slap me. There’s something I wanted to do in the movie and it’s there but you have to read between the lines. But I couldn’t say it out loud.”
We suspect it has to do with the Wonder Woman and Highfather storyline, but he only said, “Maybe we’ll see it explored in the tie-in comics but I don’t know for sure.”
Bruce Timm closed out the interview, talking about where the title Gods and Monsters came from as well as future DC animated titles:
“Gods and Monsters came from one of the old universal monster movies “Bride of Frankenstein.” Dr. Pretorius makes a toast to a new world of gods and monsters. I always liked that idea, and when I started thinking about these characters, we have a vampire, the strongest fiercest guy on the planet who could be a god and Wonder Woman is a “New God.” It’s not an innovative idea by any stretch but these superheroes aren’t likeable; they’re a little extreme. Plus I wanted to do a vampire Batman but they’d never let me do that on kids television.”
“I love the original characters, and I want to reiterate by doing these versions I am in no way shape or form saying that these characters are boring or predictable. They’re not. I think there’s a ton of life left in these characters and I admire them all but at the same time it’s really seductive to know that I can do things with these characters that are shocking and unpredictable and weird in a way that I can’t do with the traditional characters.”
“I like being the king,” Timm closing his antidote about how he got final say and free reign working on the tie-in comics and the film respectively. As far as we’re considered, he’ll always be the king of the DC animated universe, and Timm is returning next year to Comic-Con with his animated version of The Killing Joke – the famous story responsible for putting Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair. Mark Hamill has confirmed his involvement on the project reprising his role as The Joker.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters is out on home video and digital download now, and if you haven’t seen it, then do yourself a favor and do that. You can check out the trailer below;
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511