At WonderCon 2016, DC Animation screened Justice League vs. Teen Titans, the latest in the line of DC Universe Animated Movies. Prior to the screening, Toonzone News and other members of the press were able to sit down with the cast and crew of the movie for a series of roundtable interviews. In attendance were producer James Tucker, character designer Phil Bourassa and actors Jason O’Mara (Batman), Jerry O’Connell (Superman), Kari Wahlgren (Starfire), Christopher Gorham (The Flash), and Stuart Allan (Robin).
TOONZONE NEWS: You’ve built a continuity through the Batman movies for a while now, when did the idea of bringing in the Teen Titans come into play?
JAMES TUCKER: For me, the minute I knew we were going to do Damian, my mind immediately jumped forward to the Teen Titans. Because 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, so the Teen Titans could use a little shaking up. So when they didn’t do it and the minute we knew we were going to do Damian, I figured, “Yeah, that’d be fun.” I didn’t know it was going to take this long. We only do two movies a year in continuity.
QUESTION: A lot of superheroes are fighting each other this year, do you have an opinion on that?
JAMES TUCKER: If you’re an old time comic book reader, Marvel did that all the time. Every other issue, it was the heroes fighting each other, so I guess DC got on the band wagon. In our movies, we try to make sure that if a versus comes about, it’s because they’re working out an issue. There’s a personality problem. In Batman vs. Robin, it was a father dealing with his son. It wasn’t like they hated each other, they actually love each other, so the versus came about because they were trying to figure it out. In this movie there’s a little bit of that, there’s extenuating circumstances to why they’re versus, but it’s not coming from a hate place. That’s the only thing. And also “Versus” is always a catchy title. It’s like Frankenstein vs. the Wolfman. “I’ve got to go see that!” That’s the reason.
Q: Speaking of versus, generally, the animated movies have been better received compared to the live action. Do you have an idea of why?
JAMES TUCKER: Depends on whose Twitter feed you read. I think we’re doing 2-3 movies a year, so people are used to us. There’s less pressure. I mean, there’s pressure, it’s hard to do a movie because you get that one shot. The thing I like about this is we’re doing a series of movies that are interconnected, so we’re building, building, building. It’s like Marvel movies. If you don’t like one, there’s one right after it that you might like more, so we’re kind of protected from that. I feel sorry sometimes because the pressure to do those live-action movies has got to be unbearable.
Q: How do you approach characters in these big dramas?
JAMES TUCKER: For the first three Batman, actually the first two Batman and some of the third Batman, it was just bringing out Damian. Because even though comic book people knew who he was, the general audience didn’t. They had no concept of a Robin who was like him. Even Red Hood was only that one movie, so Jason Todd isn’t in the public consciousness, really, so I thought it was an opportunity to have a Robin who was really a handful who was different from the Burt Ward/Dick Grayson version. Also, he’s Batman’s son which makes it a whole different thing. It brings a whole set of issues that Robin and Batman…people who are used to Batman and Robin…have never seen that before. Going forward, I want to really shake it up. Bring in new characters, take out characters, keep it mixed up. I’m kind of the one responsible for the continuity of things. People just make the movie they make, but I have to keep track of the threads. Sometimes we put in things after the fact because I realize oh, there’s a place here I can call back to an earlier movie to even tighten the continuity even more.
Q: How do you keep track of the continuity?
JAMES TUCKER: It’s in my head. You know, on a series like Brave and the Bold we had a big chart and we wrote what we wanted all down, and that wasn’t a continuity heavy show. That was just, “Okay, we want to do another Plastic Man show.” But with this one, we have to be a little more careful because we don’t want to do something that will negate a future storyline that we know we want to tell. It’s just building up to it. No, we don’t have a chart. Alan Burnett’s the story editor and co-producer, and he’s a little looser. He’s not Greg Weisman. God bless Greg, he works hard.
JAMES TUCKER: I think the thing they like about Young Justice is the interpersonal dynamics, the human quality, the relatability. They should.
TZN: Are the characters similar? Beast Boy, for example, is he like the Young Justice version or like the one from the Teen Titans cartoon show?
JAMES TUCKER: Was there a difference? I don’t know, was there? They’re both Garfield, they’re both green. Ours doesn’t look quite like a monkey. It’s basically the same character. It’s not in the same continuity, but ours isn’t angst-y or anything. It’s just the first movie, we have to wait for that. If it was a series, it might be different.
Q: Speaking of continuity, since DC just announced Rebirth, how will that affect you?
JAMES TUCKER: We used the New 52 to jumpstart our new continuity, but we were never beholden to the New 52 for everything. In fact, after our first three movies, none of our Batmans were really New 52 continuity. Son of Batman was before that, and Court of Owls kind of ignored New 52, so again, that was kind of just to get the word out. We used their publicity to motivate ours, but we were never just doing New 52. Having said that, if there’s stuff that happened before New 52 that works, we will be adapting stories from before New 52. If Rebirth has some stuff going on that feels right, we may do that. It just depends. We don’t let the comics dictate strictly what we’re going to do. That’s their job to do their thing, we do our thing. That’s what I like. Warner Bros. lets each area tell their own stories.
Q: What are you most excited about people to see?
JAMES TUCKER: Well, I’m happy that we got Blue Beetle in this. I really wanted to bring him in the movies and now he’s here.
Q: How do you approach Batman as a character?
JASON O’MARA: I think I used to be a lot more concerned with the results with the first couple films because I was concerned about how Batman would be received. As time has gone on, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with it and I try to just let each film stand alone and each scene as well. I’m less concerned with settling on particular sound. I’ve just discovered in this film there’s a third voice that Batman has, which is when he’s still in character, but when he’s around Damian and he’s a lot more like Bruce Wayne in a Batman cowl than usual. So that was something that I just discovered through playing the scenes. I don’t feel like he’d be the gruff no-nonsense Batman when he’s around his son. I think he’s able to cover that up, so that was an interesting discovery. And then when he’s around Cyborg and Nightwing, he’s Batman. He’s the baddest Batman we know. I think this his Damian issue creates a lot of conflict for him in terms of how he’s supposed to be Batman and a father. It’s a very difficult situation. He wants Robin to learn how to become a member of a team, so Robin gets sent to the Teen Titans with Starfire to train. At the same time, Batman also wants to protect him. He’d probably rather Robin didn’t get involved altogether so it’s an interesting dilemma for him and something that I’m enjoying in particular about this New 52 storyline. I think it engages with an audience. When it was first pitched to me, I was like, how is that going to work? Batman’s a dad.
Q: Are you a father yourself?
JASON O’MARA: I am a father myself.
Q: How did you bring that perspective to a Batman that has a son?
JASON O’MARA: I suppose it comes naturally because that’s my default now. I’m a dad to a 12 year old son, and sometimes he thinks he knows it all like Damian does.
Q: And you want to keep him protected.
JASON O’MARA: Yeah, of course. Of course you want to keep him protected. You want to slow down his development and let him be a kid for as long as possible and make mistakes, but not have to pay too bad a price that will hurt him in the long run. So these are all things that parents struggle with every day and so I think it’s a great addition to the Batman character because I think it makes him a little more relate-able, particularly to another generation. Batman’s what, 77 years old now or something? How many generations is that? That’s like four or five generations. I think it’s important that the character keeps evolving and keeps changing. And I also think there’s room in the sandbox for every alternate universe. There’s room for this, there’s room for LEGO Batman, the Zack Snyder/Chris Nolan Batman. There’s room for us all to co-exist and the audience can just pick and choose which version of Batman they want to watch today.
Q: Do you have a version of Batman you like more than others?
JASON O’MARA: I’m asked this all the time and my answer always changes. I’m a fan of the Michael Keaton Batman. I thought he was great. And I think without the Michael Keaton Batman we wouldn’t have been as influenced since. I think it was seminal. I think it corrected the course. It was probably the most impactful change of the character that was necessary to have the iterations we have now. Until that point, it was Adam West. I love Adam West, he was amazing, but it was quite camp. We needed to figure out what other Batman would look like. I certainly think that balance also with ass kicking and levity is important to Batman. We have that deadpan wit that I just love. I think it’s important as well that the darkness doesn’t completely overwhelm the character or the story.
Q: Going back to the Adam West days?
JASON O’MARA: I think they went a little too far with the camp. I’m all for camp, I’m a huge fan of Superman the movie as well. I’m all for camp, but you can’t let the camp or the darkness overhwhelm in that universe, I don’t think, to make it completely successful. But that’s just my thought. It’s a dark origin story. If you’re true to Batman, he can’t suddenly be running around in tights having a blast.
JASON O’MARA: Yeah, I love that Batman doesn’t use a gun. I think it’s fantastic and way ahead of its time.
Q: In the film right now in the trailer he has a gun and it’s been getting critiques.
JASON O’MARA: I haven’t seen the film yet.
Q: What’s your view on Batman using a gun in general?
JASON O’MARA: Well, look, you can argue that the Batmobile has guns on it and the Batwing has had guns on it in the past. He doesn’t base his whole philosophy around weapons. Or at least around firing weapons. It’s based on the ninja skills that he learned. I also feel that the main reason behind why he wouldn’t use them himself is because his parents died from bullets. I think as long as it doesn’t become the centerpiece of how Batman goes about his business, then it’s okay. But I’m a big fan of him not using guns ever.
TZN: Do you have a favorite Batman tool from his utility belt?
JASON O’MARA: Particularly in Justice League vs. Teen Titans, he relies on that grapple hook a lot because he’s with Superman and Cyborg who can fly and the Flash who can practically fly, so he needs that grapple hook just to keep up with them. I think that’s probably his most useful and most used tool.
Q: What got you most excited about this film?
JASON O’MARA: I really like the Batman/Damian stuff. I think in terms of how it works as a film, to take a step back from Batman for a second, I really like the Trigon/Raven relationship. I think it’s really really cool. I think there’s something iconic about the Trigon villain as well that wherever the Teen Titans are, Trigon is never far away. I love that we’re dealing with such a recognized and iconic villain in this. He’s the one villain, I think, in this world who can turn Justice League against the Teen Titans.
Q: How do you feel about all the superheroes fighting each other this year?
JASON O’MARA: I think it’s good. Whenever you’re dealing with a superhero story, you have to find obstacles for them. And those obstacles have to be as powerful as the superheroes themselves. So unless you’re going to fight aliens or another General Zod, then the enemy should be from within, somehow. The trick is trying to engineer that. That’s the hard thing in any story. Give a good reason to motivate why they’re suddenly fighting each other. I think it’s quite successful in this film.
JERRY O’CONNELL: It was.
TZN: Which came first?
JERRY O’CONNELL: I think Superboy came on first. Yeah, Superboy came on first. It was. Sorry I didn’t have a better answer to that.
TZN: Just wondering if one influenced the other.
JERRY O’CONNELL: I don’t think anything I was a part of inspired anything of the DC Universe. I think it sort of stands on its own.
TZN: What’s it like being Superman?
JERRY O’CONNELL: It’s a big role to fill. I do go to the gym more often when I play him. I’m actually not even joking. One, because, when you’re recording you want to be feel a little bigger and two, I cannot let Jason O’Mara be more muscular than me when we’re recording because I can’t let Batman have an advantage over Superman in any way. I want to make sure that Superman keeps his higher place in the Justice League. It’s really fun. It’s fun to play with Jason. That relationship between Batman and Superman is a really interesting part of playing Superman and being part of Justice League. It’s fun. It’s a little scary. Everyone is going to say “you suck,” but I’m in my 40’s, so my point of reference is Christopher Reeve and we go from there. Everybody in the Justice League are so great. They’re so versed in the DC Universe that you really can’t go wrong with them being there. You really are in good hands with Batman himself. It’s cool.
Q: There’s been a lot of Batman and Justice League movies, are there any Superman stories you’d want to see?
JERRY O’CONNELL: I’ve got to say I was pretty stoked about the Justice League vs. Teen Titans. I have children and they are big Teen Titans fans because they’re younger. I’m older, so I’m more of a Justice League fan, that’s just how it goes. Someday my kids will have kids and their kids will be into Teen Titans and they’ll be into Justice League. It was fun playing with the Teen Titans, those little snot-nosed whippersnappers, and getting to yell at them. What’s even funnier is that as actors, we really do treat them as incoming freshmen. Jason and I tell them to go get us drinks and stuff and they do it. It’s sort of fun. The Teen Titans do help out the Justice League in this film, and it’s fun to play with that. I love making fun of them. Little punks.
Q: Did you ever think when you were younger that you would be the voice of Superman?
JERRY O’CONNELL: No. No I didn’t. I know I’m not supposed to say that. I know I’m supposed to say it’s something I envisioned and then I read The Secret and it said if you visualize it, it will happen. No, I didn’t think at all. I’m actually amazed that they did it. I think they made a huge, huge mistake. I’m waiting for them to realize that. These are all jokes. No, it’s cool. It’s mostly you’re part of DC History. You walk on the Warner Bros lot. You go into a Warner Bros studio where the entire DC Universe is created. It’s a big deal. You realize it’s important.
Q: What’s the recording process like?
JERRY O’CONNELL: You do some in big groups. These Justice League films are not like your grandpappy’s animation, where they do one recording. No offense to Scooby-Doo, but it’s not like Scooby-Doo animation. It takes years. You do one big recording session with everybody, and then they hone in and edit and fix the animation. You work with scratch tracks at first and then get a little more exact and then they do lip stuff, so you go in a number of times. My favorite is when I stand across from Jason. Once again, because I have been hitting the gym and I do not want Batman thinking he’s cooler than Superman. I cannot let that happen, so I just got to let him know who’s who. But the most fun for me is when everybody is in the room together. You get more of a sense of all the characters, but then a lot of times they’ll put other characters’ dialogue in your ears. But also, even if they don’t, what’s so great about the Justice League, this whole team, is coming here to these cons. WonderCon or Comic Con, the people behind the scenes get their shout out. I’m an actor, so if I’m at a McDonald’s or a Burger King, people are, “Oh yeah, Justice League” and they know who I am, but nobody knows who these guys are, so they get their props.
JERRY O’CONNELL: I don’t want to offend the live action movies because I’m part of the animated world. I will say I have a feeling Justice League/Teen Titans will be better reviewed than other live action films of recent history. I hope I said that properly. I can only say that my bosses, the writers, the directors, the producers, are true DC Universe experts. They’re aficionados, they’re beyond fans. They are DC Universe experts and that’s why I found my experience with the Justice League so good. I played Nightwing before, so I’ve been part of this world for a hot minute now. Also we here at Justice League may be a little more…how do I say this without offending people…may be a little more hyper conscious of the Justice League Universe. Of the DC Universe. Well worded right?
Q: What’s the biggest challenge of being Superman?
JERRY O’CONNELL: Being compared to the Supermans of the past. Even Supergirls of the past. Just being compared. So many people have done it. You’re not creating something new. You’re doing something a lot of other people have done really well and definitely better than me, so that’s it. It’s just people, and also because there have been so many versions, people have an idea of what it should be and luckily I don’t have to trust myself, I can trust the whole Justice League team. And they really know what they’re doing, so I feel pretty confident when I walk out of there.
Q: What about for the character?
JERRY O’CONNELL: I don’t want to say the most challenging, but I will say the most interesting is his relationship with Batman as far as I’m concerned. That to me is the most fun because there’s a little bit of rivalry there. There’s a little bit of jealousy there. There’s definitely kinship there. In this particular film, Justice League/Teen Titans, there’s a need for Batman. Batman helps Superman. But to me it’s Batman/Superman, that’s the most fun.
TZN: You were the character designer on Young Justice and designed a lot of characters, is that the kind of thing that comes naturally to you and did you have to do a lot of research?
PHIL BOURASSA: That one was hard, and as far as the research, yeah, because you’re getting familiar with pockets of the DC Universe. I’m a fan, but we had some deep cuts in there. Like Professor Ojo, really? It was cool, though, familiarizing myself. It was like the crash course in the Who’s Who of DC. If I thought I knew DC before that, I quickly learned, no, you don’t know anything. So you do want to get all that reference. As far as the volume, that was really hard too because we really did a lot of characters on that show. Very challenging but so much fun also.
QUESTION: What specific references did you use? New 52 or older models?
PHIL BOURASSA: For these films, they are sort of New 52, but not really, you know what I mean? When we started this continuity that we’re working on now, the New 52 had just come out, and I think DC wanted to have that reflected in the animated projects as well, but we don’t have a strict mandate at this point. It’s just that we’ve established so much continuity already with these films. This is number seven or something like that that we tend to keep the models that we started with and just build on that as we go forward as opposed to revising Batman, Superman for the umpteenth time. We just bring in the new characters. So there are New 52 elements, but we look at all the history of the characters. We look at all the iterations, all the different artists and writers that have tackled them in the past and we sort of create our own composite that works for the narrative that we’re trying to create.
Q: Do you ever come up with a design that you look back on and think is horrible?
PHIL BOURASSA: Oh yeah, all the time.
Q: Is there one in particular?
PHIL BOURASSA: It’s not the design, it’s the execution of the design most of the time. I hang my hat on that I’m a good designer, but as an artist you evolve as far as your draftsmanship. The thing that ends up helping with my work not being terrible is that the artist translates well to the medium that I work in. So if I might not like a drawing that I did that’s like six, seven years old, then it doesn’t matter because it translated well into screen and nobody really needs to see the model sheet. Even if it sucks. It was a blueprint and it is informational. That being said, I’m sure there’s stuff where I was like, “What the heck?” but it’s usually because from a design standpoint, it’s too hard for the type of budget animation that we do. So it’s not necessarily that they’re bad designs, they just needed more time in the oven. I can’t think of any specific examples, but as a rule, I pretty much hate everything I’ve ever drawn after it’s about three weeks old. So it’s tough. Tough to pick a loser amongst losers.
Q: Highlights of the process?
PHIL BOURASSA: Just the awesome people that I get to work with. Got to work with Sam Liu on this project. James Tucker and I talk about every project before we start. Tons of conversations about tone and character and the history of the characters and the themes and arching themes and what influences we want to bring in. The highlights collaboratively are just working with awesome people every project I’m on. I have this amazing crew that’s supporting me and I’m supporting them. I love every step of it when I’m not overwhelmed by the deadlines. When you look back at the project, you think, “Man that was awesome,” from having my first preliminary discussion with my producer to reading the first draft of the script, watching it go through revisions, doing the concept drawings that are then handed out to the board artist, interacting with the board artist, trying to find out what they need so they could make the scenes work, adjusting my approach based on the feedback from them, and then doing final model and sending it overseas. Then six months later you start getting footage back and then you’re looking at what works, what doesn’t work, what adjustments you can make now to fix this thing, what stuff you’ve got to save for the next project that you put in your mental rolodex to fix for the next one. Just the collaboration throughout is pretty fulfilling.
PHIL BOURASSA: You know who’s hard? Superman and Wonder Woman are the hardest, in some ways. And I’m going to get them right. I think I’m hit and miss and I think I got good takes in there, but it’s funny. There’s not a whole lot of wiggle room, and I always want to go back and tweak what I’ve done with them. It’s just the iconic Justice League characters in general, as I evolve as an artist, I always want to go back and do another pass because I feel that this time I’ll get it right. They’re so classic, they’re so iconic, people have such an absolute, favorite version in their heads that it’s very difficult to present a new take that won’t upset people or that you’re not tripping over peoples’ idealized version of it to get to. But at the same time, it’s the pursuit of doing what I would look at eventually and say, “That’s my perfect Justice League.” At that point, I might drop the mike. I still haven’t done it yet, but I’m working on it. So the icons are the hardest. Ironically, it’s the weird characters that no one cares about that are the easiest and the most fun because nobody’s looking over your shoulder. There isn’t just this whole peanut gallery of other artists that might think you’re off base, but the fanbase. Again, with Professor Ojo, no one cares what I do with him, but I had fun drawing him. It’s that kind of thing.
Q: How was putting Damian together like?
PHIL BOURASSA: He’s a little snot. Just kidding. He’s cool. I’m a big Dick Grayson fan. I like the classic Robin. He’s got the same tragic origin as Batman, but he’s not dark and grim. He’s got the levity and the fun. But once I got my head around Damian, I thought, “I like this jerky, stuck up Robin.” And the cool thing was, he had never been on screen before, so that’s always fun when you can be like ah, I got here first, and you’re informed by the comics, but you’re not necessarily informed by anything that’s been done on film, so that was really cool. Once I got over my “this ain’t Dick Grayson” thing, and I love Tim Drake too, but to me, Dick and Damian make the most sense because that’s Batman’s responsibility with Damian. With Dick he saw something that reflected his tragedy and he saw potential, but they are different people. With Damian, it’s like if he doesn’t raise him, that dude’s going to become a problem. He’s going to be dangerous. So this is something that Bruce has to deal with.
KARI WAHLGREN: No it is not. I’ve played a few in my time. For both Marvel and DC.
TZN: Do you have a favorite?
KARI WAHLGREN: I did love Emma Frost.
TZN: From Wolverine and the X-Men?
KARI WAHLGREN: Yes, and one or two of the video games as well. And also I really loved Supergirl. I played LEGO Supergirl in some of the video games and I really enjoyed her.
TZN: What do you bring to Starfire?
KARI WAHLGREN: It’s pretty great with this version of the movie. It’s much more dark and sort of adult take with Starfire, so we get to look into her relationship with Nightwing. We get to see her try to become a leader of the Teen Titans, this new, young group of superheroes. And not just being one of the team but to actually lead this team, so it’s pretty cool.
Q: What’s your character like and how does she change?
KARI WAHLGREN: I think she really comes into her own and kind of matures into a leader of the Teen Titans. She’s still figuring it out through the movie and there’s no more difficult test than having to be pitted against the Justice League, so she really proves herself in the movie.
Q: On the Teen Titans TV show, she was a little bit ditzy. Has she learned more and matured or does she still have that part of her character?
KARI WAHLGREN: She has definitely matured since that take on the character on the TV series. She still has a real sweetness about her and there is this kind of an otherworldly alien quality. Sometimes communication, but she has definitely figured out what she is doing and she has grown up.
TZN: About how long has she been on Earth?
KARI WAHLGREN: That one I’m not sure.
TZN: How long have the Teen Titans been together?
KARI WAHLGREN: Different versions of the characters have been around since the 60’s, so it’s been a long, ongoing franchise. As far as how long she’s been with this particular group of Teen Titans, it’s fairly new.
Q: Do you have an idea of why superheroes are fighting each other this year?
KARI WAHLGREN: Who doesn’t love epic mash-ups? Celebrity Deathmatch, March Madness. My college teams in basketball tournaments. We love to see great forces pitted against each other. It never gets old.
Q: Is there a character you’d want Starfire to fight?
KARI WAHLGREN: I always have wanted to just see the best female superheroes battle it out and see who would win. A cage match or something. I think Starfire would go pretty far too, she’s pretty badass.
Q: What kind of questions do you ask when you get a script?
KARI WAHLGREN: I always like to find out what the tone of the show or movie is. What age group they’re gearing towards. You can kind of infuse your performance with more layers if you’re going for an older audience or something like that. You have to find out what the whole feel of the project is, so I always ask about that and knowing the backstory as far as what has happened before in this universe that you guys are following. Those are some of the things that I would ask.
KARI WAHLGREN: Definitely darker and sexier and more mature.
Q: There are generally more male superheroes than female, is there something you bring to your character to make her stand out more?
KARI WAHLGREN: Well, the female superheroes tend to stand out a little bit anyway. You’re right, there aren’t as many.
Q: Everyone talks about Batman vs. Superman, but I think Wonder Woman stole their movie.
KARI WAHLGREN: I saw it last night and I agree.
Q: So I think it’s great that women can stand out.
KARI WAHLGREN: I love that we’re seeing more female superheroes in projects like this. Not only because it’s so great to have these strong, female characters, but also because there’s such a huge growing female fanbase. Females love superhero movies. Females love comic books. They love going to conventions and they want to see these powerful superheroes in the movies.
TZN: Were you a fan of comic books or superheroes growing up?
KARI WAHLGREN: Oh my gosh, I am such a fan. I collect Wonder Woman stuff. Especially coffee mugs. I’ve got like 40. And I have a ton of graphic novels. Got a lot of Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, X-Men. All of that stuff. It’s really awesome to be a part of this.
Q: Can you tell us about your interpretation of the Flash?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: I basically tried to capture the humor of that character, the humanity of that character, and his enthusiasm for the team.
TZN: You’re Barry Allen?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: Yeah.
TZN: Is he your favorite Flash?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: He’s my favorite.
TZN: What do you like about him?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: I like those things. I think of myself as a really good team player and he’s a guy, starting from Justice League: War, who is really rooting for this to work and that’s something that’s very true with me as well. And I love his humor. He just makes it fun.
Q: What do you think of the live action TV show?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: I really like it. My kids and I watch it. My boys love the show so we’ve seen every episode, and I’ve met Grant Gustin and he’s a very nice guy. Much taller than I expected him to be. That guy’s huge.
Q: Since you play a character who isn’t serious, do you joke around with cast members?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: I try. It’s very flattering to have been cast for a character who is so funny, because nobody laughs at my jokes at home.
Q: If you got your own Flash movie, what story would you like to see?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: That’s a good question. I don’t know. Which one would you like to see?
Q: I’d like to see Hunter Zolomon or Zoom. Grodd.
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: Grodd would be a good one for these movies. Zoom, they’ve done him on the TV show, but Grodd I think would be interesting.
TZN: Do you record with the other cast members?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: On War, Michelle Monaghan and I recorded together, but since then, we have recorded separately. So it’s nice to come to cons like this, you get to actually see each other. Catch up a little bit.
Q: Any thoughts as to why the animated films are better received than the live-action ones?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: I don’t know. People have expectations of these movies, I think. The animated and the live-action. I think in regards to these three Justice League movies I’ve been a part, of, I think they’re good movies. I think they tried really hard to stay true to the rules of the universe, and the stories work. With some of the live-action films, I don’t know what people expect sometimes. I haven’t seen the movie Batman v. Superman, but my understanding is that the critics all hate it.
TZN: Mixed reviews.
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: I think that’s generous.
Q: Audiences have given it generally better reviews than critics.
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: For me, I could be a big movie snob, but I really liked Man of Steel. I haven’t seen Batman v Superman yet, but I imagine I’ll probably like it more than the critics did. I don’t expect a movie like that to be a great film. I want to be entertained, is why I go see a film like that. I want to have a good time. I want to see characters I’m familiar with. I want to see a few surprises and see some shit blow up.
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: He has to contend with dark magic. That’s something he can’t outrun.
TZN: He is a science guy.
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: Yeah. He has a hard time in this film. And the way that he gets snapped out of it is not comfortable.
Q: For you as an actor or him as a character?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: For him as a character. For me as an actor, he’s fine. Didn’t hurt me at all.
Q: Do you have a favorite moment playing him?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: There’s a couple. He’s got some good moments in the movie. The one I’m thinking of when he gets snapped out of being possessed is a really fun little moment. I don’t want to give away what it is.
TZN: If you had super speed, what would you do with it?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: What wouldn’t you do? Get the house cleaned really fast. No more traffic. Just go. It’d be great, but really, how much would you have to eat to be able to keep up? That kind of calorie burn.
Q: Would you like this movie to have a theatrical release?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: Oh yeah. Why not? It’s interesting, I am kind of curious as to how a movie like this would do on the big screen. If the audience would pay the money to a theatre to see a cartoon. I don’t know what the answer is. I certainly think the quality of the film is better than a lot of things that do well on the big screen. But if it would work, I don’t know, I’d love to see it.
STUART ALLAN: I play Damian Wayne/Robin in Justice League vs. Teen Titans and I like to classify this movie with the triple T’s. Teens, Titans, and Teamwork. Especially teamwork because in the first two movies, we see Damian learning good morals. Justice not vengeance, straying away from Ra’s Al Ghul, going over to Batman. In the second two, we see him start to trust others outside his family. Outside Dick and Bruce. And getting to trust others is a big thing for him because he is more of a lone wolf and he doesn’t like being part of a team because he feels they get in the way. He calls the team a bunch of bumbling bozos who don’t do anything, and that’s why he likes to work on his own. I think that’s particularly because he never got the chance to connect with a real childhood. He was always preparing to take over the world with Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins, so being with the Teen Titans really teaches him that you don’t have to take all the weight on your shoulders. You can take a leap of faith every once in a while and leave things up to others. He does so and he gets some friends out of it.
TZN: Does he have a newfound respect for Nightwing after meeting the Teen Titans?
STUART ALLAN: He understands him a little bit more because beforehand he still looked up to him pretty highly, even though he calls him an unavoidable irritation. He’s the closest thing that Damian has to a brother, so to speak, and since he doesn’t have any other kids to hang out with around him, he’s the closest thing to get to that. Being with the Teen Titans lets him open up to that even more.
Q: Are you yourself a lone wolf?
STUART ALLAN: I’m a social person. I love hanging out with people, although at times I like to take the lead a little bit so in a sense I am like Damian that way. I do like to do things on my own sometimes when no one really I can see will help me out with it. But if I get the opportunity, sure, yeah, I like some help along the way.
Q: Damian has some of the best insults, are they all written for you or do you throw in some of your own?
STUART ALLAN: Most of them are written for me, I have maybe suggested a couple like “unavoidable irritation.” Sometimes I call my sister that. Most of the stuff I do have to give credit to the writers like Bryan and James Tucker and Wes. Without them, especially also Andrea Romano in the first two films, I feel Damian could not have been his best. They really helped me out with it.
STUART ALLAN: Favorite part of the film…well, I take Tae Kwon Do, I’m a martial arts person, so I love all those action scenes. But I have to say that my favorite would definitely be when there’s a carnival scene where Damian gets to hang out with the Teen Titans and learn what it’s like to be a kid and hang out with kids his own age. He learns to open up to people a little bit more, so I really liked to see that scene.
TZN: When was the first time you ever saw Batman?
STUART ALLAN: I would have to say in the movies, really, the Son of Batman, one, and also the Dark Knight Rises. Those two. That was my first exposure to that, but I’ve always known about the DC Universe beforehand.
TZN: Did you ever imagine you’d play Damian, Robin, or any Bat character?
STUART ALLAN: Oh hell no. I never thought that I would get this far. Damian is such an iconic character, so getting the chance to play Damian is really a once in a lifetime opportunity. I embrace it full force.
Q: Do you have a favorite Robin?
STUART ALLAN: Other than me? I’m biased. I would have to say I like Dick Grayson because he was really a good role model for the other Robins.
Q: Where do you draw Damian’s arrogance from?
STUART ALLAN: The arrogance, I guess, I just draw from me being a leader. Just at school and around the house, I always like to take charge. So that arrogance I suppose just comes from at home and at school. Daily life.
Q: Can you relate to someone young being forced to grow up and having a lot of responsibility?
STUART ALLAN: I suppose that becoming an actor so young was kind of growing up a little bit in and of itself because when I was back in Virginia before I moved out here fully in 2012, my friends started to turn away from me a little bit. In Virginia, acting isn’t exactly so common, you don’t exactly have the chance to get into it especially when you’re so settled. You have to move all the way across the country, really, if you want to get into it. So yeah, a couple of my friends and their families started to shut me out a little bit. Of course out here everyone loves actors, you can definitely see that, this is California, and I have lots of great friends out here. I have lots of friends that stayed with me in Virginia, but facing that rejection early on and having to have the patience to wait for my time to come really was a sense of growing up early on.
Q: A lot like Damian.
STUART ALLAN: A little bit, yeah, except mine obviously doesn’t involve swords and guns.
TZN: Is this your first time at a convention or have you been going to a bunch lately?
STUART ALLAN: Doing the voice of Damian has encouraged me to start going to more conventions. Beforehand, I saw them as just being too hectic, too crazy. I didn’t exactly want to go through all that push and shove like at Comic Con. To warm up for WonderCon, I actually went to BotCon early because I’m also involved in the Transformers Robots in Disguise series on Cartoon Network, so I figured what the heck, I might as well go to that as well. Facing that kind of warmed me up to going to something as big as this. I expected this to be a bit smaller because it is the sister version of Comic Con so when I got here, I was like, my God, it was really overwhelming the first year. But later on as you start going to it more, it becomes second nature.
TZN: You dress up at all?
STUART ALLAN: Sometimes I would love to dress up, but sometimes I don’t know. I always want to dress up but I never found a good costume for it. You want to dress up but look your best for it. You really want to portray your character and I can never really find all the proper items for those characters.
STUART ALLAN: Well, they definitely evolved further on because as we see in the first films, the idea of “justice not vengeance” was very foreign to Damian. He rejected it instantly because he was raised so tightly by Ra’s Al Ghul’s method of no one can stand in your way, you kill your enemies, you do what you have to do to complete your dreams. Damian later on learns with Batman that there is a certain boundary that you cannot cross, which is justice not vengeance. And he starts to accept that more and he starts to accept Batman as more of a father as well. In the second film, Robin says to him, “A biological accident doesn’t make you my father and it sure as hell doesn’t make me your son.” That’s when he still had high ties to Ra’s Al Ghul even though he has been with Batman for a while, but as we see later on in the story, he starts to create a bond more with Batman and Dick Grayson and especially with the Teen Titans because he’s finally bonding with kids his own age.
Q: Do you think there’s a reason the animated movies have been generally better than the live-action ones?
STUART ALLAN: I don’t really know. I feel like the animated ones are kind of more of what you expect to see. These characters have been around since the mid-20th century, and they are so closely portrayed in these movies as they were in the comics. Live-action is a little bit different. At the same time, it’s hard to portray exactly those characters because DC is a little more complex in that way.
Q: Is there a superhero you’d love to do in live action?
STUART ALLAN: Definitely I’d say Damian since I’m biased in that way.
Q: Or in the future when you get older?
STUART ALLAN: I would definitely say Flash. I love super speed.