When Warner Bros. Animation first launched the DC Universe Animation Original Movies back in 2007, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the huge body of work that would have come from such a high caliber of talented filmmakers. To celebrate the 10th Anniversary, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release a massive 30-movie box set collection on Blu-ray on November 7th that includes tons of new bonus content. During NYCC, the Beat had the pleasure of talking with some of the talent involved with these direct-to-video films over the years including Alan Burnett, James Tucker, Vanessa Marshall, Jim Krieg, and Bruce Timm.
When asked which of 30 animated movies they thought were the best, unsurprisingly it was like asking the filmmakers to pick their favorite children, though producers Alan Burnett and James Tucker were particularly fond of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. “I generally like them all but the two I like the most are probably Flashpoint Paradox which we were taking a chance,” said Burnett. “We had dozens of characters that nobody knew and so without doing much exposition we featured them and it worked out. It was a story that was huge; it took place on different continents, different time zones, it had a body count like none of our other shows. It was spectacularly done and I was quite taken.”
Any fan of the legendary writer Dwayne McDuffie, who tragically passed away in 2011, are well aware that the DC Universe Original Movies are some of McDuffie’s last projects working on these iconic characters. While McDuffie may not have gotten the recognition and respect in the comics industry he deserved in life, it was heartwarming to hear his legacy remembered by his friends and colleagues. “Dwayne was a genius and brought so much to these. He really was a cornerstone of how these are built.” said writer Jim Krieg. “I haven’t been able to watch All-Star Superman again. I wept when I saw it which was when he passed away.”
Producer Bruce Timm, who first worked with McDuffie on the Justice League animated series, echoed Krieg’s sentiments. “He [Dwayne] was such a brilliant guy to work with because he understood superheroes inside and out, but not only that he understood film as well. So he knew what would work on film and what worked about a superhero- the best of both worlds. And he was just a brilliant writer on his own. There hasn’t been one of these movies that we’ve worked on where I haven’t thought, ‘If only Dwayne here to help us out with this. It would have been great.'”
There’s no better time to be a Wonder Woman fan than this year and the importance of the character is not lost on actress Vanessa Marshall. Having voiced the Amazon warrior in two different DC Animated movies (Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and Flashpoint Paradox), it’s a role she’s been ready for her whole life ever since she was a little girl wearing the WW underoos! In fact, Marshall actually auditioned for Wonder Woman in the original Justice League cartoon and was one of the final choices. They ultimately went with Susan Eisenberg, whom Marshall praised for her portrayal in that series. When asked if she changed anything in her performance between that JL audition and the films, Marshall couldn’t really recall any major difference citing the enduring aspects of Wonder Woman that have made her such an enduring character. Marshall clearly has superheroes in her blood as evidenced by Marshall’s only recent discovery that her mother, actress Joan Van Ark, actually guest starred in an episode of the 70’s Linda Carter Wonder Woman TV show. See for yourself!
When James Tucker took over as Supervising Producer of the DC Animated Projects in 2013, one of the biggest shifts in direction was to create an connected DC animated universe to piggyback on the New 52 publishing initiative from DC Comics. Not completely dissimilar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe method, Tucker used these in-continuity movies as Trojan Horses in that they could highlight more obscure DC characters to a general audience. “[I wanted] to use Batman and the Justice League as the gateway drug to lesser known characters and to build on each movie. There was a time when Aquaman wouldn’t have had his own movie but we had a Justice League movie that could feature him in a prominent role and tell his origin. At first the only things we were selling were Batman and Justice League because that was the only things they were willing to greenlight.
Likewise, Bruce Timm relished getting a chance to do something that “had nothing to do with guys in spandex” with the Showcase animated shorts like a classic Western with Jonah Hex or “a 70’s cop drama mixed with a John Carpenter 80’s movie” like The Spectre.
Looking forward, Tucker said thanks to the in-continuity titles, they can do a more proper adaptation of the “Death of Superman” and “Reign of the Supermen” storylines and bring in characters like Eradicator and Steel that had to be left out in the Superman: Doomsday adaptation.
Producer/Writer Alan Burnett, who retired this year after more than 33 years in the industry, was able to reveal that there is a Swamp Thing animated script written over 8 years ago that’s just been sitting in a drawer. Though he couldn’t divulge the writer of the script, Burnett had high praise and hoped it could see the light of day in the future or perhaps be retooled into a Justice League Dark project.
The filmmakers were hesitant to say what characters they hoped to see in future projects, because they may end up featuring them after all. Some names and concepts that could be gleaned included Kamandi, Doom Patrol, and even most interesting enough…Ma Hunkel courtesy of Jim Krieg. The sky’s the limit!
DC Universe Original Movies: 10th Anniversary Collection Blu-ray Collection
New Bonus Content
• Featurette – “The Super Human In Us All” –Some Heroes are born in the pages of DC comic books (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman), some are the real life heroes that have faced life or death, and triumphed against the odds. The quest in this film is to find that common ground, reminding everyone that there is a hero in all of us … waiting to rise!
• Featurette – A Comic Book History of Justice League Dark – Take a mystical journey through the comic book history of the Justice League Dark: John Constantine, Zatanna, and Deadman, magical heroes who flourish in the shadows – and their specialty, the supernatural side of the DC Universe.
• Featurette – “Mark Hamill: Finding The Laugh” – This mini-documentary follows the journey of celebrated actor Mark Hamill from his portrayal of heroic Luke Skywalker to the role of one of the most feared DC Super-Villains of all-time, the Joker.
• DC Universe Original Movies 10th Anniversary Panel at 2017 Comic-Con International – Ten Years. Thirty films. Five shorts. And innumerable fan-favorite moments. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment celebrates a decade of animated DC -infused films with an exciting panel spotlighting the DC Universe Original Movies: 10th Anniversary Collection. Filmmakers and an array of luminary voice actors guided fans through an entertaining look into the making of these popular movies. Included in the panel discussion are producers Bruce Timm & James Tucker and co-producers/screenwriters Alan Burnett & Jim Krieg alongside actors Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, John DiMaggio, Vanessa Marshall and Christopher Gorham.
• Lookbooks for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Batman: The Killing Joke, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.
• Panel Discussion – A Tribute to Darwyn Cooke – Legendary writer and artist Darwyn Cooke left the world far too early. This panel gathering celebrates through personal and professional anecdotes the achievements and heart and wisdom Darwyn brought to his projects, and his life.
• 2008 Comic-Con International Wonder Woman (Animated) Panel – Harken back to 2008, during the infancy of the DC Universe Original Movies, when the Comic-Con stage filled with some of the key players in the production of the highly-acclaimed animated film, Wonder Woman. Included on the panel is former DC Publisher Paul Levitz, DC Universe executive producer Bruce Timm, Wonder Woman director Lauren Montgomery, eight-time Emmy Award-winning dialogue/casting director Andrea Romano, and geek god himself, Nathan Fillion, who voiced Steve Trevor in the film. DC executive Gregory Noveck moderated the panel.
The 30-film DC Universe Original Movies: 10th Anniversary Collection (Blu-ray) will include:
1. SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY
2. JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER (COMMEMORATIVE EDITION)
3. BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT
4. WONDER WOMAN (COMMEMORATIVE EDITION)
5. GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT
6. SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES
7. JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS
8. BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD
9. SUPERMAN/BATMAN: APOCALYPSE
10. ALL-STAR SUPERMAN
11. GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD KNIGHTS
12. BATMAN: YEAR ONE
13. JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM
14. SUPERMAN VS. THE ELITE
15. THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, PART 1
16. THE DARK KNIGHTS RETURNS, PART 2
17. SUPERMAN: UNBOUND
18. JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX
19. JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR
20. SON OF BATMAN
21. BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM
22. JUSTICE LEAGUE: THRONE OF ATLANTIS
23. BATMAN VS. ROBIN
24. JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS
25. BATMAN: BAD BLOOD
26. JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. TEEN TITANS
27. BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE
28. JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK
29. TEEN TITANS: THE JUDAS CONTRACT
30. BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN