Friendship is magical — except when you’re best frenemies with an overpowered alien from outer space whose favorite hobby is making you feel like a super-loser.
Or so the story goes in “Robot Chicken DC Comics Special III: Magical Friendship.” The league of extra-and-sort-of-ordinary heroes are back and facing a crisis of more than just their one Earth. The eighth season of the long-running stop-motion comedy from the minds of Seth Green and Matt Senreich premieres later this month on Adult Swim, with its third DC Comics crossover special debuting a week earlier, on Sunday. Oct. 18.
During a recent press event, CBR got an early look at the special and the chance to sit down and chat with Green and Seinreich, plus writer/producer/director Tom Root and the newest addition to the show’s never-ending cast of cameos, Burt Ward. While Ward stays true to his Robin of the ’60s “Batman” TV series, there’s one thing to remember about the rest of the show: this isn’t your father’s “Super Friends.”
Things kick off with the not-so-friendly rivalry between Earth’s finest alien protector and Gotham’s brooding Dark Knight. It’s no secret that without powers, Batman has achieved super status through the use of his wits and gadgets, something Robot Chicken‘s Superman (voiced by Breckin Meyer) revels in pointing out. But the endless jokes on Bats wears him down and eventually the two come head to head, resulting in a world-shaking event that really reaches into the annals of DC Comics history.
“One of the things that’s great about DC is that they have so many decades of history, and not all of the characters are great,” Root, part of the main voice cast along with his creative role on the series, said. “We ended the first special with all the villains hiding in a Trojan horse. The second one was a parody of old ’60s beach movies and ‘Grease,’ then Starro attacks.”
So for the big bad this time around, they went back to the 1960s and pulled out the Frankenstein’s monster known as Composite Superman — half-Supes, half-Bats, all crazy alien. It’s a character that Green, co-creator of “Robot Chicken,” has been holding on to since season two.
“When we first started ‘Robot Chicken,’ in the second season, we got a box of toys and it was that Composite Superman toy,” Green said. “I put it in the center of the table and said, ‘You guys, this is about as stupid as it gets, we’ve gotta do something with this!'”
OG fans of the show might get a hint of deja vu, as this was the inspiration behind Composite Santa Claus from the show’s first Christmas special in 2005. But Composite Superman wasn’t the only character the team revived from the ’60s. For “Magical Friendship,” the team knew they needed to bring back the original dynamic duo. The Boy Wonder was up to the task, though for Ward, it wasn’t the same Bat-place he knew from the ’60s.
“I’m stunned,” Ward said. “I’ve never seen anything like this involving our characters. I had never watched ‘Robot Chicken.’ It was a little bit of a culture shock. But I think it’s spectacular and I told Tom [Root] earlier before we did any interviews that it’s brilliant on DC’s part to open this up to all audiences. It’s just genius. Everybody wins. Everybody gets something they like.”
The rest of the episode follows just as you would expect, where nothing in DC comics history is held sacred. If you can enjoy friendly jabs at some of your favorite characters, you’ll likely get more than a chuckle out of this third special. And fans of certain “ships” (not the kind you sail on) may appreciate how these super-beings spend their last moments on Earth. It’s an episode that will go down in Justice League history.
As for how the heroes save the day this time, you’ll have to watch the special to find out — though Seth Green had something to say about his memory of the first time he saw Composite Superman on a comic book cover.
“‘I’m an alien and I have taken the form of the two greatest superheroes on this planet, and now I will conquer you all,'” Green related. “And my first thought was, ‘If he’s taken the form and the powers of these two heroes, than only half of him has any powers.'”
Batman may never live down that running gag.
“Robot Chicken DC Comics Special III: Magical Friendship” premiers at midnight Sunday, Oct. 18 on Adult Swim. The eighth season of “Robot Chicken” premieres the following week, on Oct. 25.
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