JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR Director & Producer Talk Modern Adaptations, Aquaman’s Absence And More

Speaking with Comic Book Resources, Justice League: War director Jay Oliva and producer James Tucker talk about the first animated New 52 adaptation. After a string of stand-alone movies, Tucker suggests that upcoming titles will be much more closely connected. “We did ‘Flashpoint,’ and originally ‘Flashpoint’ was gonna be just a standalone and we were gonna go right back into doing standalone different movies that aren’t in continuity with each other. I think Geoff Johns and our boss, Sam Register, got together and decided, ‘You know, this may be an opportunity to relaunch the DVD franchise and start it from ground zero.’ That’s kind of how it happened.” The producer then discusses reaching new audiences by taking advantage of the superhero genre’s current popularity, as well as adapting a modern comic book. “I think we wanted to pull in more of the general audience now that superhero movies are kind of a genre of their own. There’s much more awareness of these characters in the general public than beyond the comic book reading public and we wanted to take advantage of that. Also, we wanted to be able to tell more stories about what the comics are currently doing, like the modern aspects of the new comics that are not under the Comic Book Code and aren’t from the Bronze Age or the Silver Age. Something that’s contemporary so we can take advantage of some of the edgier topics that are in comics now and reach that audience, and reach a wider general audience. We wanted to take advantage of the New 52 and what it’s brought to comics, but also use that as a launching point to get to reach new audience members.”

The topic shifts to the depictions of the characters in Justice League: War, and how close it is to Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s “Origin” story arc. Oliva says, “I think we take our cue from the comic. So in the comic there’s the instruction of Green Lantern, of Batman — we try to stay as true to that as we can. Of course, there are some characters that are new that we have to create, and Heath Corson who wrote the screenplay, he’ll write in something and James and I will talk about what’s the best way for us portraying that, and what’s the characterization that we want to go with this character and just go from there. As we line up their characters to what happens in the story, then eventually they all fit together and it’s almost like puzzle pieces all fitting in. By the very end you understand that it is a team, it all comes together. At the beginning they’re all a mixed bag of heroes but by the end they’re this well formed team.” Tucker weighs in, talking about balancing the development of each character and how that is structured. “Certain characters don’t need a lot of extra story. Like Batman, everyone knows everything they need to know about Batman, so you don’t need to fill in. He kind of has such a life of his own that him just being there informs what everyone else is — he gives the point of view of the audience to all these other characters so it’s easier to focus on them because we don’t have to give him as much story. The way we try to structure these is one hero who hasn’t gotten a lot of exposure will get the lion’s share of story, and then it’ll descend from there. So Wonder Woman and Superman get their moment, and then Green Lantern and Flash have their moment, We try to divvy it up so that everyone gets the same amount of time, but if there’s a main character who needs more love, they’ll get more love in each movie.” 

The most noticeable shift in Justice League: War‘s lineup is the exclusion of Aquaman, who was replaced by Shazam (Sean Astin). When asked about this change, Tucker reaffirms that it was because the King of Atlantis will receive attention in the near future, possibly in his own movie. “The broad answer is that Aquaman will be getting some love in the near future. A little more specific answer is that the writer of the arc [Geoff Johns] made the suggestion to save him for another story. Who am I to argue with the guy that wrote the comic book?” Oliva then talks about how Aquaman’s absence from this film was for the better. “I just finished up ‘Flashpoint Paradox’ right before this, so for me, not having Aquaman in it was a little bit refreshing because I had done everything I could with Aquaman in that movie. So when we went in about this movie and we included some new characters, I just thought, “Okay, that’s great.” Plus, there wasn’t any screen time anyway, because as you mentioned, there’s seven of them — there’s only so much that we could do. So again, in the future we have something cool planned for Aquaman and I think fans will really like it.” 

Justice League: War features the voice talents of Jason O’Mara as Batman, Alan Tudyk as Superman, Michelle Monaghan as Wonder Woman, Christopher Gorham as The Flash, Justin Kirk as Green Lantern, Shemar Moore as Cyborg, Sean Astin as Shazam, Steve Blum as Darkseid, and George Newbern as Steve Trevor. The movie is set to hit DVD and Blu-Ray on February 4th.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of WOBAM! Entertainment.

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