The stars of “Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis” — DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation’s latest animated film — were out in full force for the Los Angeles PaleyFest premiere, screening the film ahead of the January 27 Blu-Ray/DVD release. Following up 2014’s “Justice League: War,” the film is an origin story for Aquaman and pits Arthur Curry and the Justice League against Ocean Master’s attempts to subdue the surface world.
“To be honest, I think when anyone approaches you to voice a superhero it’s hard to say no!” said Aquaman voice actor Matt Lanter. Speaking with Comic Book Resources on the PaleyFest red carpet, Lanter added that his reason for taking the role was because he felt that people were “hungry” for a more human approach to the oft-ridiculed character.
“Aquaman in traditionally the last 20 to 30 years has not gotten the best rap, so it’s fun to jump in and help try to change that and hopefully show him in a way that people will love,” said Lanter. “I feel like on paper he’s not the coolest, but when you see him, you can see he’s kicking butt right along with every other member of the Justice League.
“I approached him as Arthur Curry the human, the guy — just a guy who is down-and-out, a guy who maybe is dealing with some depression and the tragedies in his life. I think he’s relatable in that way,” added Lanter. “We’ve got to figure out who Arthur Curry is before he’s Aquaman; that’s the basis of an origin story.”
“[Momoa is] a really interesting choice, a departure from traditionally what he looks like, but I’m sure they know what they’re doing,” Lanter said, adding with a laugh for Aquaman haters, “So he’s coming back whether you like it or not!”
The live action DC Universe also expanded in 2014 to include Flash, first on CW’s television show “The Flash” and then as one of the characters in the upcoming “Justice League” feature film. Christopher Gorham, the actor that voiced Flash in both “Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis” and “Justice League: War,” thought that the speedster’s recent rise in prominence was indicative of audiences’ desire to see more funny and action-packed media.
“I think it’s the time of the fun, action-y superhero movies,” Gorham told CBR. “Because I play the Flash in these [animated] movies, that particular character seems to be ascending. It’s exciting.
“I’m not a DC newbie, I read a moderate amount of comic books before I got this,” Gorham continued. “[I read] both DC and ‘Star Wars’ and a few indie things, so I knew the character, but what I love about playing him is I get to have fun. I feel really bad for [Batman voice actor] Jason [O’Mara], because Batman’s so serious all the time! It’s boring, oh my god! Flash gets to have fun and tell jokes and play around with it!”
Though Gorham has played Flash in two successive DC/Warner Bros. animated films, the actor had to confess that as a child, Flash was not his favorite character.
“Its funny, growing up I don’t remember him being as fun as he is now that I’m playing him,” Gorham admitted. As to whether he might be biased towards his interpretation of the character, Gorham jokingly shook his head.
“Maybe, but probably not. I’m great in this role,” he deadpanned.
“Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis” also stars Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Sumalee Montano as Mera, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern and Jerry O’Connell as Superman. Returning to their “Justice League: War” characters were Shemar Moore as Cyborg, Sean Astin as Shazam and Irish actor Jason O’Mara as Batman.
Citing both his “inner ten-year-old” and his real life ten-year-old son as the reasons he agreed to play Batman in “Throne Of Atlantis,” “Justice League: War” and “Son Of Batman,” O’Mara stated that the hardest part for him was nailing the Dark Knight’s signature growl.
“I was already a Batman fan, so I was already aware and followed the Adam West series, Michael Keaton Batman, Val Kilmer… then of course the Christian Bale Batman,” O’Mara told CBR. “But I also wanted to see some of the other voice performances; I’d already seen a lot of Kevin Conroy Batman, I was already really familiar with him. So it was trying to find a world where not only could my Batman voice work, but also fit in somewhere, but not overlap with other actors and what they already created.”
A fan of the 1966 “Batman” television show, O’Mara took a moment to geek out over Adam West’s take on the caped crusader — though he admitted he had yet to read the ongoing “Batman ’66” DC digital comic.
“Also this year they’re re-releasing the Marvel ‘Star Wars’ comics, so I think all of that stuff is a really great idea, ’cause those ones I read first!” O’Mara laughed.
The Batman voice actor added that he’d really love to see the next DC/Warner Brothers animated film adapt writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo’s “Court Of Owls” comic book story. O’Mara’s second choice would be a follow-up to “Son Of Batman,” the animated film adaptation of writer Grant Morrison’s “Batman And Son” comic storyline.
“I also think ‘Son Of Batman’ left off on — not a cliffhanger but it’s like, what happens next with Batman and Damian? So I think there’s got to be a follow up for that sometime,” said O’Mara. “How do Batman and Damian now function — if we’re in that world, you can’t just get rid of Damian. So as Damian develops and Batman grows, what happens then?”
O’Mara was not the only one pulling for a New 52 Batman story as the next animated film. Orm/Ocean Master voice actor Sam Witwer was similarly enthusiastic at the prospect of a “Court Of Owls” film, nodding furiously as he proclaimed, “Yeah! I loved ‘Court Of Owls’!
“I just finished the ‘Batman: Zero Year’ volume two, which was really interesting,” added Witwer, citing Snyder and Capullo’s 2014 story arc. “I just like what they’re doing with the young Bruce Wayne character. I like the fact that ‘Zero Year’ tried to tell a version of the Red Hood story and this whole notion was, was that really the guy or did they get a patsy to put on the hood and speak a bunch of lines? It left it open to still buy into the ‘Killing Joke’ version of the story. I know Batman pretty well, but it’s interesting to see new takes on the character and new ideas on the character I hadn’t quite considered, 80 years after the invention of the character.”
As for Witwer’s own take on Ocean Master in “Throne Of Atlantis,” the actor stated, “He’s what we call a jerk! He is well-intentioned but he’s youthful and arrogant, and that youthful arrogance and impatience ends up running away with him. He ends up making mistakes, and then he compounds those mistakes with like five bigger mistakes!” said Witwer with a laugh. “By the end of this film he’s not what you would call a happy, self-actualized person.”
Explaining that he had watched every DC/Warner Brothers animated film since the theatrically released “Mask Of The Phantasm,” Witwer recalled walking out of the theatre on Christmas Day in 1993 and telling his friends, “That’s about as good of a Batman movie as you could ever want.” He added that after watching recent animated films like “The Dark Knight Returns,” “New Frontier,” and “Gotham Knight,” he could not pass up the opportunity to work on “Throne of Atlantis.”
“When they called me up and were like, ‘Hey, want to do a DC animated film?’ I was like, ‘Yeah!'” recalled Witwer. “That’s about as much deliberation as I needed!”
DC is not the only genre universe Witwer and Lanter belong to; both also voiced characters on Cartoon Network’s “Star Wars: Clone Wars” animated series. Lanter voicing Anakin Skywalker and Witwer provided the voice for the villainous Darth Maul.
“I feel I’m being typecast at this point,” said Witwer. “Everyone wants me to be the bad guy.” He pointed to his turn as the complicated bad guy/good guy vampire Aidan on “Being Human” as another example. The key to getting into character as an evildoer, Witwer joked, was to “kind of look like you’re doing a really hard math problem.” Demonstrating, the voice actor looked off into the distance, his brow slightly furrowed. “What’s six plus six?” Witwer asked. “That’s Aidan right there!”
Though Lanter also has experience voicing Agent Venom and Flash Thompson for the Marvel show “Ultimate Spider-Man,” “Clone Wars” really stuck out for him.
“I’ve got to say, Anakin is really close to my heart,” said Lanter. “I worked with him for the last seven years and we kind of have a bit of a new take on Anakin. We were doing something that was a little bit — at that time, it was not the Anakin that we had seen before, so it was fresh and new and it meant so much to the fans in that world.”
The two were also excited about the upcoming Star Wars film, “The Force Awakens.” “What’s cool is that for a young generation now, their ‘Star Wars’ is the ‘Clone Wars,'” said Lanter. “And they’re going to see the films. Its just mind blowing!”
“It’s the first Star Wars movie we’ve seen in a long time where we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Witwer. “Even the prequels are like, well Anakin is going to fall in love and have a falling out and become Darth Vader. You knew the outline of the story. This, I couldn’t tell you. I have no idea! But I so desperately want to know what happened to Luke Skywalker.”
Stating that the DC and “Star Wars” fandoms were “special” to both of them, Lanter and Witwer also happily embraced geek culture and being a part of genre television.
“I think people who are into this stuff are special,” said Lanter. “Let’s take a break from this world for a minute, you know? There’s a lot of bad stuff happening in our world — let’s take a break and have some fun. I feel like a kid playing in a sandbox.”
Witwer revealed that he identifies with superheroes on a personal level. “Because when you take the themes and the problems people have everyday and you pump them up 1000 percent, they become superhero stories,” explained Witwer. “They become mythological and something that’s just a little bit more universally digestible.
“When I mess up, when I do something bad, I feel weirdly ashamed to be a fan of the things I’m a fan of because I don’t feel like I’m following what I’ve learned from those stories,” Witwer continued. “That’s actually the truth. That’s a geeky truth, but that’s the truth!”
“Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis” is currently available as HD download; the Blu-Ray and DVD arrive in stores on January 27.
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