Friday at New York Comic Con, a panel for Voltron Legendary Defender was held with executive producers Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery; head writer Tim Hedrick; and voice actors Jeremy Shada (Lance) and Bex Taylor-Klaus (Pidge). The panel began with an appreciation of the “intimacy” of New York Comic Con compared to the San Diego event, with Mr. Dos Santos, Ms. Montgomery and Mr. Hedrick collectively remarking that during the New York event, it’s easier to get out and meet fans that have received them very well in the past.Mr. Shada and Ms. Taylor-Klaus concurred on having a positive experience on the show, with Mr. Shada finding that people have responded well to their performances while Ms. Taylor-Klaus acknowledged Pidge as her first major role and found it fulfilling to work with veterans on the show.
After these opening remarks, the premiere date for the second season of Voltron Legendary Defender was officially announced for January 20, 2017, after which the audience was treated to an advance look at the episode “The Depths.” This picks up right after the events of “The Black Paladin,” which saw the Voltron Force forcibly split up to different parts of the galaxy after a difficult confrontation with Emperor Zarkon and his forces. Without going deep into spoilers, “The Depths” fixates on the adventures of Lance and Hunk, who find themselves among an aquatic planet and civilization populated by mermaids and assorted fish-type aliens. Upon exploring their new surroundings, the pair receive a warm reception and promises of help from the Mermaid Queen Luxia, but the pair
soon find that this seemingly idyllic society they’ve discovered has more to it than meets the eye.
With the episode concluded, the panel proceeded to comment on what the audience had just seen. “The Depths” represents an achievement for Lauren Montgomery, who professes to have an “intense passion” for mermaids and cites The Little Mermaid for motivating her to get into animation. For Ms. Montgomery, using mermaids in the show was her “gimme” element, much as Mr. Dos Santos’ was Shiro being given a mechanical arm. On another topic Mr. Dos Santos acknowledged that water episodes tended to be a challenge for animated action, but that Studio Mir did a marvelous job pulling it off in all respects. As for casting trivia it was revealed that a certain eccentric sea-dwelling native in “The Depths” is voiced by none other than “Weird Al” Yankovic, while it was later revealed by Ms. Montgomery that this there would be “plenty more” celebrity cameos for the second season.
The panel was not silent on the question of the situation with the other Voltron pilots besides Lance and Hunk. Mr. Dos Santos divulged that Keith and Shiro were not seen in the screened episode because they were “in trouble” and really “in it,” while Ms. Montgomery assured the audience that we will see precisely what happens to them. As for Pidge, the audience was shown a pair of brief clips revealing that she winds up crash landing alone in a “trash nebula.” In the first clip we see Pidge crashing and being marooned for a time, opting to give Green Lion a rest and stay put in the hopes that the others will be able to search for and find her. Pidge tries to convince herself that some alone time will be good for her, although her remark that there’s “no one to annoy me” sounds less than satisfied. To wit, the second clip involved a humorous scene that sees Pidge killing time by building mockups of her comrades from the garbage and imitating them in mock conversations. Montgomery elaborated on this point that Pidge was “not the loner she used to be,” to the point that she now finds herself sorely missing her fellow Paladins with them gone.
On the broader subject of what fans can expect from the second season, Mr. Dos Santos and Ms. Montgomery emphasized time and again that the show will continue to “get bigger” and become “more inclusive” of the wider universe. Because they have literally an entire galaxy at their disposal and Voltron has been long established as being the “Defender of the Universe,” the showrunners see an opportunity to “go crazy” and include things like the alien mermaids of “The Depths.”
As for other matters to be explored in season 2, the panel touched on a number of topics in their remarks and during the panel’s Q&A session:
- Per Jeremy Shada, Lance gets to develop some “leadership qualities” and gets some “moments of seriousness” beyond his usual happy-go-lucky ways.
- Bex Taylor-Klaus noted Pidge’s “underlying path” and her goal of wanting to find her family, which “hasn’t gone away.”
- Lauren Montgomery teased that viewers would see more and more of past events as the show goes on, and reiterated that many new species would be seen.
- On a related point, Tim Hedrick remarked that they wanted to show how Zarkon’s Empire has affected other planets and that “…you’ll find out what drives Zarkon, and what he’s all about.”
- Fans will also learn more about Keith’s background in the upcoming season, according to Ms. Montgomery.
- On smaller points, Mr. Hedrick remarked that fans will see more of Hunk’s “culinary skills” while Montgomery said Pidge will be shown to be “a hoarder”. Shada also divulged the trivia that Lance’s ethnicity is Cuban.
Beyond these tidbits, the panel had more to say during the event’s Q&A session. One fan praised Mr. Dos Santos storyboarding work on action scenes in Justice League Unlimited and elsewhere, and asked about the process of bringing a fight sequence from page to screen. For Mr. Dos Santos this starts with writing, as “…no fight matters if you don’t have something behind it.” Mr. Dos Santos also thinks you need to catch when you’re indulging in “punching for punching’s sake,” and to stop yourself when that happens. As for battle scenes in the present, Mr. Dos Santos went out of his way to acknowledge the “amazing team” on Legendary Defender as deserving a great deal of the credit, informing the audience to that to a large degree it has “taken the reins” while “I’m just kind of there giving the thumbs up.”
Another fan asked about the prospects for Legendary Defender tapping into unused characters from past iterations, to which Ms. Montgomery simply answered that there have been and will be times where they pick and choose when to include things they like and when they decide to do something go in a different direction. Mr. Dos Santos’ added that he does appreciate that they have a substantial number of older characters to draw upon. Another question asked about the possibility of spinoffs or bringing in Vehicle Voltron, but according to Ms. Montgomery they are focused on creating and working through the show as it is for now.
Multiple questions also made much of past iterations of Voltron and the original Go-Lion doing away with other iterations of Shiro to create space for Princess Allura and Keith to step up, questioning if fans could expect to see character deaths and injury and future competition over leadership and ownership of the Black Lion as a result. The panel declined to address such speculation directly, but Mr. Dos Santos did remark that they’ve all done “dramatic stakes” before and that fans can “expect that to carry through.” Another fan asked Jeremy Shada if he ever thought about what Finn of Adventure Time, another role of his, would do in Legendary Defender. Shada replied that he did not and considers the characters substantially different, as Finn is “straight and narrow, happy-go-lucky, socially awkward” while “Lance thinks he’s overconfident and smooth, but he’s not.”
Finally, the crew was asked how they felt about the creative freedom they have when it comes to producing a family friendly show for Netflix in contrast to some of more mature and adult-oriented programming. Mr. Dos Santos fielded that question by talking up the advantages of “straightforward serialization” that being a Netflix show allows. With television networks there is a trend toward preferring episodes that can run “out of sync” and still make sense standing on their own, but in the case of Netflix the crew has received “no pushback” for making Legendary Defender so story-driven.