On the last day of WonderCon 2015, Warner Home Entertainment debuted “Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts”, the animated film that pits Batman against the Penguin and his group of super villains with animal-based powers. Along the way, Batman enlists the aid of the Flash, Green Arrow, Nightwing and Robin in order to engage Penguin’s animalistic crew — consisting of Cheetah, Killer Croc, Man-Bat, and Silverback — in combat.
Following the film’s premiere, the cast and creators of the movie spoke directly to the fans. Screenwriter Heath Corson, whose credits also include “Batman: Assault on Arkham” and “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis,” served as the moderator for the panel. Joining him were “Animal Instincts” voice actors Will Friedle (Nightwing), Yuri Lowenthal (Robin) and Roger Craig Smith (Batman).
Corson kicked off the panel with a question directed at Smith about the challenges he may have experienced voicing Batman in projects aimed at older audiences, like the video game “Batman: Arkham Origins,” and films like “Animal Instincts,” which has a younger demographic. Smith said that there “were no challenges” and he recognized that the character can “come together in many forms.” He said that no matter what, the “core” of Batman believes in “doing good.”
Attention turned to Batman’s sidekick, Robin, who is voiced in “Animal Instincts” by Yuri Lowenthal. Lowenthal, most known as the teenage voice of the lead character in the “Ben 10” franchise, stated that he “loves” working on this version of Robin. The voice actor noted that landing the gig was a “check” off of his “nerd list.”
Much like their superhero alter egos, Corson explained that the group of voice actors teamed up to record “Animal Instincts.” The screenwriter asked Friedle what it was like to all be in one room while recording the dialogue. “We really play well off of each other, and you get more when everybody is sitting in the room” said Friedle.
The Nightwing voice actor then asked Corson what it was like to write the film, to which the screenwriter responded that he sought to capture the tone of the Silver Age “Justice League of America” comics. “I just wanted to share that excitement that I had as a kid on the screen,” said Corson.
With just under ten minutes left in the panel, Corson opened up the floor to questions from the audience. An attendee wanted to know what it was like for the group to voice the film’s action segments. “I just find it’s the silliest portion.” said Smith.
“Could you do it again and get hit in the stomach?” added Friedle, imitating the voice director’s request.
“How about the shin?” countered Lowenthal.
A younger fan asked about the possibility of seeing Ace, the Bat-Hound again after “Animal Instincts.” “That’s a really good question,” said Corson. He asked the fan if he enjoyed having Ace riding a motorcycle in the film. When the fan responded affirmatively, Corson told him to continue watching the “Batman Unlimited” movies.
Another fan, who identified herself as a veteran, asked if the writers thought about including a female hero in the cast. Corson said that he was considering adding Batgirl or Wonder Woman into the movie at one point. He said they want to add a female hero to the cast in future “Batman Unlimited” films.
Corson elaborated on the film’s cast further, specifically Batman’s relationship with them. “The bromance, we got the cute little bromance,” said Corson. “We decided, what if they don’t necessarily like each other at first — what if they don’t get along until the end.” The writer explained how the surprise of seeing Oliver Queen at the big party added a “really fun moment” in the movie.
When asked whether or not the actors felt pressure lending their voices to the Gotham City heroes, Lowenthal took the opportunity to discuss his fandom. “I grew up with these characters, and love them so much” said Lowenthal. “There used to be a certain amount of pressure that I had to feel because I gotta do it right. I had to give that up because you can never do it exactly the way you think is right. You just gotta trust that the writing is great, and that the director will push you in the right direction, and that they hired you for a reason that you can’t fully comprehend.”
“I don’t want to ever imagine that I’m about to voice Batman — it’s too much pressure,” said Smith.
Friedle stated that he wanted to get together with the team and get a sense of this version of Batman versus the character featured in “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.” The actor cited animator Bruce Timm, who stated that there should be a Batman for everybody.
“Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts” is available April 12 on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital HD.
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