NYCC: "Justice League: Throne of Atlantis" Panel

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment's latest DC Comics-based direct-to-home release animated film is "Justice League: Throne of Atlantis," and cast and crew gathered Friday night at New York Comic Con, talking the upcoming, Aquaman-centric feature.

On the panel: voice of Aquaman Matt Lanter, producer James Tucker, screenwriter Heath Corson, character designer Phil Bourassa and veteran casting and voice director Andrea Romano.

First question from the panel moderator went to Tucker, asked to address the absence of Aquaman in this year's animated feature "Justice League: War" -- an adaptation of a Geoff Johns and Jim Lee "Justice League" comic book storyline that included Aquaman. "He was omitted so it could lead to this," Tucker said. "This story is Aquaman's origin. If we had adapted 'War' [with Aquaman], we would have lost the ability to tell a story that totally featured Aquaman." Tucker said it was actually Johns' suggestion to go this route.

Bourassa talked the design of Aquaman in "Throne of Atlantis." "We did use the New 52 look as a springboard," he said. "It's not an overly complex design, so it lends itself to the medium of animation."

Speaking of the current interconnectivity between much of the DC-based animated features, Tucker revealed that, "The end of this movie definitely teases the next movie."

Romano shared her thoughts on Rosario Dawson voicing Wonder Woman for the first time in "Throne of Atlantis." "She's such a fan of this world, she's such a fan of animation and comic books," she said "We've been looking for something, and thought, 'This was the piece.'"

"There absolutely was an intent to bring back as many cast members as we could," Romano continued. "It doesn't always happen. We wanted Shemar [Moore] to return as Cyborg. I think it was for three months we tried to get him. His schedule was so crazy, we couldn't get him for this movie. So we hired another actor. And he did a fine job. The animation came back eight, nine, 10 months later, and the agent reached out and said -- 'Shemar's available again.'" Romano said she re-recorded with Moore because the film's creative team "wanted the continuity," and "heartbreakingly" she had to recast the other actor, "who did nothing wrong" -- but that she will find future work for the other actor.

Romano was asked if she ever records voice actors in a group. "That's my preferred way of recording, ensemble recording," Romano said, because of the ability of the voice actors to react to each other.

Lanter on his Aquaman: "This is his origin story. For me, coming into, it's about figuring out, 'Who is Arthur Curry in this moment?' rather than being the superhero Aquaman. This is kind of his journey."

A "Throne of Atlantis" clip was shown, starting with an apparently inebriated Arthur Curry lamenting his sorrows at a restaurant: "Life sucks," the character, who just "buried his dad," says. It's shown that he's talking to a lobster in a tank, which a worker in a restaurant fishes out. "Leave him alone," Aquaman (being watched by Mera) says. "We're talking." This leads to a relatively brutal bar fight scene between Aquaman and several less-than-friendly fellows, the leader of which was playing on dining on that lobster -- Aquaman gets the better of it, than releases the lobster back into the water.

Moving to fan Q&A, the first audience member at the microphone asks Lanter how it feels portraying Aquaman. "It's amazing," Lanter replied. "When someone approaches you and asks if you want to play a superhero, you pretty much say, 'yeah.'"

Next question: Will there be a "true" Bat-family movie, featuring Batman a variety of his well-loved supporting characters? "I would love to do that," Tucker said. "So if I love it, it will happen."

A fan asked if there was a chance that characters from "Young Justice" might appear in the DC animated features. Tucker answered, "If 'Young Justice' comes back in any way, you've got to have Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman. It won't be us." Tucker pointed to the many different platforms delivering content these days, and said, "While I'm not saying it is going to happen, chances are it will down the line."

Tucker told a fan that going forward, the animation team will adapt both New 52 stories and pre-New 52 stories (as they already have been -- "Son of Batman" was based on the "Batman and Son" storyline, released five years before the New 52 era).

Asked why Aquaman was chosen for a focus given his sometimes less-than-stellar reputation among mainstream audiences, Tucker said, "He already has all the name recognition any character would want" -- "a good thing," he said, even if people know the name as a punchline. "A lot of people know him who don't read comics. We're taking advantage of that knowledge and showing them who Aquaman really is."

Tucker said that "Throne of Atlantis" originally had an R-rating. "I won't say why, but it wasn't for violence. See me out back if you want to see the real cut," Tucker said, with a wink.

Chance of an animated "Justice League International"? "That's all I want to do in the world," Corson said, adding that it was the first thing he pitched to Warner Bros. "Someday maybe they'll listen to me. I'm dying for it." Corson suggested Alec Baldwin for the voice of Maxwell Lord.

Tucker once again explained the current DC animated feature plan; two in the connected continuity that started in "Justice League: War," and one outside of that. Visually, it's, "two in Phil's style, and one in whoever's style. And the story dictates the style."

A fan asked about how Lanter compares Aquaman and Anakin Skywalker, who Lanter voiced in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." "There are actually a lot of similarities," Lanter said. "They've got power and responsibility put on them when they don't even necessarily want it."

Asked about how she casts for an iconic role like Batman, Romano disclosed that when she reads a script, it's "Batman: The Animated Series" star Kevin Conroy whose voice she hears as Batman. "I can't help it. It's so many years with Kevin. It's not out of my comfort zone to cast other people in these roles, it's just very difficult."

Corson -- who also wrote "Justice League: War" -- said he's very excited about building a "continuity universe," because dynamics between characters can carry through multiple features and develop.

An audience member asked if animated features could extend to further DC characters beyond the Justice League and Batman, who have headlined the recent released. Tucker points out that the "Justice League" and "Batman" animated films tend to sell the best, and they are used to introduce other characters -- like Aquaman in "Throne of Atlantis." "It's kind of the way we have to do it now, and hopefully those characters will pop and merit their own movie. I'd love to do a solo Aquaman movie. This one practically is an Aquaman movie."

Asked who she considers to be the "modern day Mel Blanc," Romano listed Frank Welker, John DiMaggio, Dee Bradley Baker and Rob Paulsen as contemporary voice actors she finds especially impressive. The same fan asked Romano if she thinks any current voice actor could have the longevity of the legendary June Foray, and Romano answered that she's skeptical anyone else could work until her 90s like Foray has.

The panel closed with a final scene of Aquaman and Mera fighting off a predatory Atlantean horde -- before being joined by the rest of the Justice League.

Keep reading CBR all weekend for the latest from New York Comic Con!

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