Announced last month, the sequel to the 2013 DC Comics fighting game "Injustice: Gods Among Us" made its panel debut at Comic-Con International in San Diego, where fans hope for an early glimpse at gameplay footage from "Injustice 2." NetherRealm Studios is also expected to reveal new playable characters during the presentation. On hand for the panel were Ed Boon, creative director at NetherRealm Studios and co-creator of "Mortal Kombat;" "Injustice: Gods Among Us" comic writer Tom Taylor; and voice actors George Newbern (Superman), Phil LaMarr (Aquaman), and Laura Bailey (Supergirl). Victor Lucas emceed the panel.
After playing the launch trailer, Lucas noted that the original "Injustice" game did not have a panel at Comic-Con, making this the series' debut on the San Diego stage.
"At some point we really wanted to do a fighting game that didn't involve cutting people's heads off and doing weird things to them," Boon said. The stable of DC characters created that opportunity. The "Injustice" universe takes place in a world where "things went a bit differently," as chronicled by Taylor in the comics.
"I love these characters, I grew up loving them," Taylor said. "And being handed them and being told 'destroy them,' was incredible."
"I was told to take Superman and find a way to have him kill Lois Lane and their unborn child," Taylor continued. "I phoned my mum. I said, 'Mum, I'm going to be writing Superman for the first time.' She said, that's great! I said, 'and they want me to do this.'"
Taylor announced that he will also be writing the "Injustice 2" comics.
Boon said the "Injustice" universe is taking a "cinematic" approach, hiring "real actors" and creating a deep story rather than simply relying on the fighting action of the game.
Newbern described his approach to Superman is taking "Superman's second thought." "He thinks, 'I should do this,' and that's his first thought, but then his second is, 'well, maybe...'"
Lamarr joked that "Injustice" finally "made Aquaman cool." "He rules the ocean, that's seventy five percent of the planet! And for fifty years he's been lame. How is that even possible?"
Bailey said that Supergirl has a major arc in the game. "There's so much we got to play with."
Characters will receive gear in "Injustice 2" to craft costumes with custom abilities, Boon said. "You're constantly in the process of improving your character," he said.
New footage revealed that new characters in "Injustice 2" will include Grodd, Atrocitus, and Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes). Grodd and Beetle drew the greatest applause, with a fan yelping nearby as Grodd thundered toward Wonder Woman.
LaMarr said that "Injustice 2" makes Aquaman even cooler. "They topped the shark!"
Taylor said that Supergirl "rockets to Earth between the two games," and her backstory will play a major role. Boon added that the origin is "not the one you know."
Asked how the studio decides which characters to include, Boon joked that, "usually it's the angry Twitter rants." In more seriousness, though, he said fan feedback does make a difference, and Beetle was included in part because any time they'd asked about new characters Jaime Reyes got a ton of response.
On the subject of voicing a fighting game, LaMarr said that, "there isn't a way to make a punch sound without moving your body." Newbern joked about the facial capture in the booth, saying that "no matter what face you make, you always look scared" as it appears on the monitor.
"Never look at the screen!" Bailey said.
Boon talked about the changes from his "Mortal Kombat" days, from recording everything on video to motion capture and hiring professional writers and actors. "Back then, it was four people" working on the game, he said. "For 'Injustice 2,' it's something like 180."
Taylor joked that he became addicted to the "Injustice" mobile game. "Sorry 'Injustice' is late, I was playing 'Injustice,'" he said, adding he had to delete the game to save himself.
A young fan asked about Red Hood, and Boon said demand for him was nearly as great as Blue Beetle. Members of the Suicide Squad may also show up, and not just in DLC.
LaMarr advised an aspiring voice actor to work on acting first. "Everybody wants to work on voice, but the acting comes first," he said, adding that it was necessary to create an experience for the player or viewer.
"There's absolutely a chance" that Zoom will appear in the game, Boon said, in a voice that suggested that Zoom will absolutely be in the game.
On the question of format, Boon said "I think it's pretty likely" the game will be ported to PC.
Boon joked that many characters were off the table for "Injustice 2" because Taylor had killed them in the comics.
On overlap between "Injustice" and "Batman v Superman," Boon said that none of this was intentional. LaMarr joked that "It's like every argument we had in the back of the comic shop is now being made for $200 million."
"Scorpion was the most downloaded character in 'Injustice,'" Boon said when asked about "Mortal Kombat" character DLC in the new game. "We'd be stupid not to [do it again], but it probably won't be Scorpion."
Boon said that the expansive roster of the game means a lot of favorites will show up. "I bet if you guessed ten characters you thought would be in the game, you'd probably get seven."
"Gorilla Grodd has a huge role in the story," Boon said.
After Boon asked who wanted to see Beast Boy in the game, LaMarr joked "the only people booing are the people who have to animate it."
After a fan said that "guns and laser beams were the bane of our existence in the first game," Boon confirmed that these would be "toned down" in "Injustice 2."
A fan asked about Static Shock. "It's possible." And Terry McGinnis? "It's definitely possible."
There are items in the game that "turns one character into another character," Boon said, such as Supergirl becoming Power Girl. "We're going to have a lot of cameo characters that will be activated by a piece of gear."
Asked about a tag team option, Boon said, "That would be really cool. It's not gonna happen."
More will be revealed at Gamescom in Germany, as well as New York Comic Con, Boon said.
Despite his voiceover in the trailer, Bryan Cranston is not in the game, Boon said.
Dex-Starr "is Atrocitus' super power," Boon said.
The gear system will be standardized in a "tournement mode," Boon said, to avoid unfair competition