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Lauren Montgomery on "Superman/Batman: Apocalypse"

Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation released "Superman/Batman: Apocalypse" today, the latest in the bestselling line of direct-to-DVD animated original movies.

Based on "Superman/Batman: Supergirl" by the all-star creative team of Jeph Loeb, Michael Turner and Peter Steigerwald, "Superman/Batman: Apocalypse" was produced by animation legend Bruce Timm and directed by Lauren Montgomery ("Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths") from a script by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Tab Murphy ("Gorillas in the Mist"). The story originally appeared in 2004 in "Superman/Batman" #8-13.

"Superman/Batman: Apocalypse" - a sequel to the 2009 movie, "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" - features the updated origin of Supergirl from current DCU continuity, as well as the World's Finest battling Darkseid. Unfortunately for Supes and the Bat, the Fourth World supervillain has Clark's long-lost cousin on his side.

Tim Daly ("Private Practice") and Kevin Conroy ("Batman: The Animated Series") return to their fan-favorite roles as Superman and Batman, respectively. The rest of the celebrity-laden guest cast includes Andre Braugher ("Men of a Certain Age") as Darkseid, Summer Glau ("Serenity," "Firefly") as Supergirl and seven-time Emmy Award winner Ed Asner ("Up") reprises his "Superman: The Animated Series" and "Justice League" role as Granny Goodness.

Director Lauren Montgomery, who is concurrently working on "Batman: Year One" and "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights" for Warner Bros., spoke with CBR News about bringing the popular story arc to video and how important it was to stay true to the source material.

CBR NEWS: You didn't work on "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies." Did you get a chance to speak with its director, Sam Liu, about it when you were prepping for "Apocalypse"?

Lauren Montgomery: Sam and I are friends, so we talk pretty often. But I think on this one, it was such a different story, just in general, that there wasn't a whole lot to really take from the first one. It wasn't a direct sequel in that sense, like the story was continuing. It was kind of a phasing out of the first story and then starting in on a completely different story. And they have a pretty different feeling to because this one is much more family and relationship-oriented and much less testosterone-driven [laughs].

So yeah, it's really only a sequel as much as the comic was a sequel. You can really just pick up this book and read it and you don't have to know anything that happened before. You maybe have to know a little bit about Superman and Batman and as long as you didn't grow up in a jail cell, with no knowledge of the outside world, then you should probably be able to follow along with it.

Stills from "Superman/Batman: Apocalypse"

It doesn't stay 100 percent. There are a few very, very tiny things that we tweaked just to make it play better as a movie than as a comic. But it is very, very close to the comic in a majority of ways. We really only made whatever tiny, minor changes we had to make just to adapt it to a movie format better. And I think whatever changes we made were really for the better of the movie. But we didn't go out just to make changes just for the hell of it. It's a pretty close translation from comic to movie.For folks who didn't read the original comic, what's the story about?It's essentially the re-introduction of Supergirl. It's her new origin story after they killed her off the last time [laughs]. They decided, "Hey, let's bring her back." So it's really the origin story of Supergirl and her arrival on Earth and really the dynamic that she brings to the Superman/Batman relationship. And what kind of drama her arrival actually brings because there's Superman - who is so excited to have someone from Krypton, who he's related to, because he's never been able to have anybody that he can really relate to, anywhere on Earth - and then there's Batman, who is much less trusting and kind of looking at her as less of an ally and more of a possible liability and a possible enemy because here is a whole other Superman. But unlike Superman, you're not sure of her morality. You don't know if she's going to be good or she's going to be bad. So that's really what this story centers around is the arrival of another super-powered being and what it could mean for the people of Earth.How big of influence was Michael Turner's art from the original run?Whenever we do one of these movies very closely based on a comic, if it's possible, we do try to use the original artwork as inspiration. We try to design it pretty closely to what the comic was. Some adaptations always have to be made because you can't get as detailed in animation as you can in a comic because ultimately somebody has to draw that thing over and over and the more detail you throw on it the slower it's going to get made. But in "Public Enemies," they adapted the Ed McGuiness style and in this one, we adapted Mike Turner's style and we were constantly looking at the comic for any kind of inspiration. We not only used character drawing style but we also used backgrounds from the comic and color schemes from the comic and we really just tried to make it look like the comic came to life in our movie.To further bring the comic to life, you also brought back fan-favorite voice talent in Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly, but this is not set in DC Animated Universe. Is that confusing for viewers or just for geeks and fanboys like me?I think it can be confusing. People tend to grasp at straws, like it's the same voices so it must be the same universe. I remember on "Wonder Woman," one of the comments that one of the people wrote online - even though there were no voices from any of the previous series in "Wonder Woman" - but one of the comments online was, 'This doesn't make sense because the Justice League would have totally showed up and saved the world before Wonder Woman got there." But it's like, "Justice League isn't in this movie. You don't understand." So I think regardless, if they see a DC movie, it's just assumed that it's in the DC Animated Universe continuity. But we really try to make these things kind of their own. At times we resort to using familiar voices because it's just so much easier. You already know that you're going to get a good performance out of them. Every time we try to cast a new Superman, you try to find the right voice and then once we find the right voice, its' like "OK, this guy's good. Let's ask him to do it." There is no guarantee he's actually going to say yes. And half the time they say, "No, we're too busy," and then we have to go find somebody else and it just gets to be a really big pain in the ass so a lot of the time, we'll go back to our same people, purely to save us a little bit of stress. And in this case, with "Public Enemies" having the same voice cast, and since this is a sequel to it, we figured it wouldn't hurt to just use the same voice cast even though the style is nothing like "Public Enemies." People aren't going to get that just on the visual aspect, so we can at least use the voice aspect to clue people in to the fact these two movies are related. Because a lot of time, we'll use the same voice cast where there is absolutely no relation between the two projects, it's just easier for us to get it done that way.

He was awesome. I was familiar with him from a number of different projects but I can never place what projects he's in. I know his face and he's so familiar but I think the last thing I remember him from is "The Mist" and I loved that movie, so I was like, "Oh, sweet. We get Andre Braugher." And he's just a really talented actor whether he's on camera or just doing the voiceover, he's got enough talent to do it right.Are there any plans to do "Superman/Batman: Absolute Power" next?I honestly don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if they did because it's "Batman/Superman." Anytime you put Batman and Superman together, it sells pretty well [laughs]. And being that they are all about doing Batman or Superman, I'm sure they will eventually do another "Superman/Batman." I don't think there is a script in the works right now, but I definitely would not be surprised if it did come in the next year or two.

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Tags: dc comics, superman, supergirl, batman, warner bros animation, kevin conroy, jeph loeb, green lantern, michael turner, darkseid, batman year one, superman/batman, tim daly, warner premiere, lauren montgomery, apocalypsye, public enemies, emerald knig

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