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DC's Villains Take the Spotlight in Animated Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay

Attendees at WonderCon in Anaheim were witness to the world premiere of DC Entertainment and Warner Brothers Animation’s latest straight-to-home release feature, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay this past Friday night.

Before the screening, DC All Access host Tiffany Smith moderated a panel discussion on the film with executive producer James Tucker, writer Alan Burnett, character artist Phil Bourassa and voice actors Liam McIntyre (Captain Boomerang), Kristin Bauer von Straten (Killer Frost), Greg Grunberg (Maxum Steel), Dania Ramirez (Scandal Savage) and Julie Nathanson (Silver Banshee).

Smith noted that the voice cast had never met before until right before the panel, and wanted to know how they were able to pull off such great chemistry onscreen having never met and having recording their characters’ voices separately.

Grunberg credited the writing. “We just say the lines," he told the crowd. "When I saw the movie, I was blown away at the chemistry. I didn’t even know there were other people in the movie. I thought it was just me. They really are the geniuses behind it because we’re just saying the lines and they’re guiding us through it and they put it together and it works.”

Tucker said before the script came together, the writers had to decide what the story was, and which characters from the Suicide Squad mythos would fit in best. “Certain characters made more sense than others," Tucker said. "[Casting director] Wes Gleason picked the actors.”

“One of the things we wanted to do,” Burnett, who retired from Warner Bros. animation in June, said. “Because in Suicide Squad there is always the threat of death for the characters, was to make the deaths in this movie a surprise. You can’t really anticipate who is going to make it through this one.”

Smith noted that Grunberg’s Maxum Steel character, invented for this feature, is particularly fun in this film, and asked how Grunberg gets to the space where the character plays as funny as he thinks it’s going to.

"Well first of all they let me have that freedom to explore that a little bit,” Grunberg said, jokingly adding, “Plus, I’m hung like a mule. I’m a stripper in the movie! I love the fact that my character adds some levity and that he’s over the top, and he was having fun with what he was doing and then he reveals something really cool which you guys will see. I had a blast doing it.”

Smith asked the voice cast how fun it was to delve into the crazy minds of their characters.

“It was a little bit of a different process than acting on camera,” Bauer von Straten said, noting that the actors didn’t get a complete script when recording their lines. “I actually didn’t know the story of the film until I watched it this week. Then I had to IMDb who else was in it, and then ask who was going to be here this week. It’s really fun to just go into the booth and say the dialogue and then try not to mess it up and be true to the character and then as the process goes, you go back a year later and to the ADR to fill in the grunting noises and the fighting stuff and then I get to see what I look like. Some fabulous artist drew me so beautifully. It’s an amazing process that gets better as it goes.”

Nathanson said she doesn’t normally get to play characters that are so deeply dark. “As a voice actor I do enjoy getting to use my voice as my power and you’ll find that Silver Banshee does that as well.”

Smith asked Bourassa about his character design choices, noting that Harley Quinn looks different in this film. Bourassa answered that because the characters in the film are villains, there is more latitude given to the artists designing them.

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“We do a lot of Batman, we do a lot of Justice League, and with the Justice League they are wonderful to draw, they are wonderful to play with -- but because they are archetypal, they are all cut from the same cloth," Bourassa said. "So when you get to sit down and do this wider range of silhouettes and more separate and distinctive personalities with characters like the Suicide Squad, you have a lot more room to play. Also, the material hasn’t been explored as thoroughly."

Bourassa added that the character of Copperhead has never been portrayed on film before. “There is almost no wrong way to do characters like this. You can take a lot of liberties and there is more room to play.”

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is available now on Digital HD, and on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD April 10.

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