If you're a kid at heart, you're definitely a fan of LEGO. If you're a comic book reader, chances are you have at least a few DC Comics characters you count among your favorites. And if you like both, you already know the LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes franchise that began with movies like "Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom!" and "Justice League vs. Bizarro League" combines the two in wildly entertaining ways perfect for kids of all ages. In early 2016, the partnership yields a brand new original animated movie, "LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes -- Justice League: Cosmic Clash," that finds the League facing off with classic DC villain Brainiac.
Producer Brandon Vietti, director Rick Morales and screenwriter Jim Krieg made their way to the world famous CBR Tiki Room at New York Comic Con to speak with CBR TV's Kiel Phegley about the upcoming film and how it both builds on and differs from the previous efforts. The trio discuss about adding new elements to the LEGO DC Universe, what they were most keen to introduce this time around, and whether they worry about older fans while creating material for a young audience. They also explain this movie's approach to time travel -- jokes, not rules -- and what it's like to have LEGO build original DC playsets to pitch them on future storylines.
On what they wanted to add for "Cosmic Clash" that had not previously been seen in the LEGO world:
Rick Morales: The Legion of Super-Heroes.
Jim Krieg: My son had read all of the "Legion of Super-Heroes" [comics] so I was like, "Let's get the Legion in!" So the Legion of Super-Heroes makes an appearance.
Brandon Vietti: That was fun for me, too. We got to to work on -- we did a ["Legion] animated series at Warner Bros. Animation for a while so it was kind of nice to get to work with those characters again and have a great time.
What's fun for us, too, is these are skewed for a younger audience, of course, and it's great because I think a lot of young kids out there are getting to learn about the DC Universe through LEGO.
Krieg: It's like a gateway drug. [Laughter]
Vietti: And we all love the Legion. We've all had different experiences either working on the shows or growing up reading the comics so to have this opportunity to share our love of these characters with a new generation is kind of a fun thing for us.
Morales: It is fun that we've worked on a lot of super hero shows collectively through the years and to do something that's a little bit different, skewing a little bit younger, it takes it into a different place; the approach to these characters is different.
On whether there's pressure to appeal to younger fans' sensibilities while still keeping in mind the broad audience the DC characters have:
Krieg: Fortunately we all have an 8 year-old's sensibility. [Laughter] We all like the action stuff too, but this lets you do something different and stretch your leg in a different direction. You know, I think the bad part is the action fans, they're the ones who post a lot, you hear about it online. Whereas if you are 8, you spend less time on message boards [Laughter] because of the spelling issues.
On introducing time travel to the world and worrying more about jokes than the rules of time travel:
Vietti: I have to credit our boss with this one, the first thing you gotta figure out is how do they travel back in time. We came up with this great idea to take the Cosmic Treadmill. Everybody knows the Cosmic Treadmill from "Flash," right?
Krieg: It is the single most important piece of cardiovascular equipment in the DC Universe. [Laughter]
Vietti: We were sitting down with out Our boss, Sam Register, who is the president of Warner Bros. Animation, and we decided what better thing could happen with the Cosmic Treadmill than to build it onto the back of the Batmobile, and then you get to have Batman and Flash team up to go back in time together.
Krieg: So Flash is sort of like the hamster on the wheel, you know, on the back of the Batmobile.
On whether they work with the merchandising side to incorporate future products into the stories or whether the stories drive the collectibles:
Krieg: When we first started doing these this huge team from LEGO came over and they brought all these one-of-a-kind sets that they were basically kind of pitching us. And they had a team of, you know, Danish LEGO model builders that were locked into cages for weeks before [Laughter] and they brought all this stuff out and it was a challenge to have an adult meeting and talk like grownups when all of us wanted to play with the toys. I think one of the first things we saw was the Brainiac ship which, you know, is a big skull. And we were all like, "We gotta do a Brainiac." [Laughter] It's kind of a friendly skull. It's cute.
Morales: It's funny, I do remember looking at that stuff and being like, "What can we use?" It's this toy box open in front of us.