LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Interview: Writer Josie Campbell Talks Putting The Spotlight On Supergirl (Exclusive)

In Legion of Super-Heroes, Supergirl heads into the future for a team-up with the Legion, and writer Josie Campbell (Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous) talks us through her approach to the Girl of Steel...

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In Legion of Super-Heroes, Supergirl ventures to the 31st century to find answers to her present-day dilemmas, only to encounter new problems and an old enemy. The movie, which is an action-packed delight, is coming to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital on February 7 from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment.

Struggling to adjust to her new life on Earth, Supergirl leaves her and Superman's space-time to attend the Legion Academy. There, she quickly makes new friends, as well as a new enemy with old ties: Brainiac 5. However, a nefarious plot lurks in the shadows as the mysterious group known as the Dark Circle seeks a powerful weapon held in the Academy's vault!

Meg Donnelly and Harry Shum Jr. lead a star-studded cast as the voices of Supergirl/Kara and Brainiac 5, while Jeff Wamester (Justice Society: World War II) directs Legion of Super-Heroes from a screenplay by Josie Campbell (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power).

We recently sat down to talk with Josie about penning an epic Supergirl adventure, learning how she approached Kara in the story and what it was like to combine the Girl of Steel's world with that of the Legion. A fan of those heroes from the 31st century, the writer also explains how she tackled them in this team-up. 

Later, we discover whether writing characters like Batman and Superman differs from the likes of Arm-Fall-Off-Boy and Brainiac 5 given the expectations that surround the Dark Knight and Man of Steel. Josie also sheds some light on why it had to be Supergirl taking centre stage instead of Superboy or Superman. 

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I had such a good time watching this movie, so I can only imagine the sort of fun you must have had writing it? 

Oh, I absolutely loved it. I had a ball writing this thing! 

I thought it was really interesting how the movie explored Supergirl being a real fish out of water on Earth; was that something you knew you wanted to delve into fairly early on? 

Yeah, to me, Supergirl…Superman is the immigrant story, but Supergirl is the refugee story. Unlike Clark, she had a whole life because she was a teenager and a young woman when Krypton blew up. She has this expectation of what her life was going to be life, and she had her own dreams and goals. Then, all of that was literally wiped away in a blaze of light. To me, it made so much sense for this to be a story of finding a place to belong and a place with a newfound family where you’re accepted. She is, in so many ways, the most alien member of the Super-family. Clark is the mid-Western boy, but Kara is Kryptonian. It made all the sense in the world for her to be a fish out of water and for her struggle in this movie to be, ‘My world is gone. Where do I fit in now?’ 

I’m guessing then that it was also important you get to show Kara grieving for the life she lost. What was it like delving into that side of the character?

It was great. Kara is such a multifaceted character because she’s got that grief and the connection with her mother. It would be traumatising for anybody, but she’s also got this spark of resilience. And a lot of humour and heart. The fact you go through something so traumatising and tragic and come out the other side and say, ‘Well, I’m going to help people with powers I just got and a cousin I never knew I had.’ That takes a lot of guts! For her, there is trauma and tragedy, but also a lot of fun, especially when we get to the 31st Century and see the funny, resilient person that she is. It comes out through her interactions with the Legion Academy, the Legionnaires, and Brainiac 5. 

Supergirl’s dynamic with both Mon El and Brainiac 5 were a real joy to watch as a viewer; what about those relationships with the Legion were you most excited to delve into? 

I’m a Legion fan, so I was really excited to learn we’d be pulling some of my favourite characters in. I really love all the Legion Academy kids. There’s a scene where she meets all of them and each of their personalities really comes through. That was so much fun and such a joy to write. I particularly enjoyed writing Triplicate Girl [Laughs]. She’s another character who is so grounded and matter of fact, saying ‘I don’t like your cape, I don’t like your hair…we’re gonna be friends. This is the deal!’ That’s a real breath of fresh air to write, so I would say her and…I was the one who said Arm-Fall-Off-Boy had to be in this. I love him [Laughs]. I think he’s so funny, so getting to put him in a movie was really great. 10-year-old Josie was applauding me somewhere in the background. 

That Brainiac 5 dialogue must have been fun to write as well given what a quirky character he is?

Yeah! You know, a lot of the Kara and Brainiac 5 interactions, I watched old Hepburn/Grant screwball comedies where it was this very fast patter back and forth. That’s the fun of it. With them needling each other and her trying to figure out whether he’s a good guy or bad guy; either way, they’ve got some really good jokes [Laughs] and burns on each other. 

When I spoke to Jeff [Wamester], I mentioned how we’ve seen the destruction of Krypton from baby Superman’s perspective more times than I can count, so how much did you enjoy revisiting that from Supergirl’s point of view and putting a different spin on things? 

I loved having the chance to turn that famous scene on its head. To be able to show what I think is this touchstone of American pop culture and show people what it was really like from Supergirl’s perspective by saying to people, ‘You don’t really know what happened.’ It was really fun, and when I started coming up with the movie and outlined it, that was the first scene I had in my head and it was fully fleshed out. I was still figuring out how the plot and villain would work, but with that scene, I knew if I didn’t get to ever write anything else in this universe, I wanted to deliver that subtle undercut of what you thought you knew about Krypton blowing up. 

I loved seeing some of the lesser-known DC heroes in this film like Bouncing Boy, for example, so what was your process of picking the characters who would be spotlighted in this film? 

A lot of the characters are those I like or have an affinity for, but I did do a deep dive into the omnibuses DC had of all the Legion stories from the Golden Age right through to modern times. I took a full week of diving into every era I could to see which characters, ideas, and villains stood out to me. What were the things that grabbed my attention in the various era of Legion? Well, some of it was as simple as picking my favourite Legionnaires, and some of it was realising that various runs, like pulling Timber Wolf from one or Keith Giffen’s work, which was so good, that I remember from childhood. We had to use the Dark Circle, for example. It was a deep dive informed by my complete geekery and nerdy love [Laughs].

As well as those lesser-known characters, you’re writing scenes with characters like Batman and Superman. Does your approach change when you’re working with heroes who do bring certain expectations with them? 

That’s a good question. Honestly, it’s par for the course because how I approach every character is figuring out what their core is and what their conflict is. Writing that scene with Batman and Superman was so fun because Kara is the conflict, and having that back and forth was such a fun thing to write because it was so clear that they’re on different sides. Any time there’s a very real character conflict or clashing of agendas, that’s the most fun to write. So, it wasn’t really about writing Batman or Superman and that’s intimidating, it’s that I’m writing Kara’s cousin and her biggest doubter and nemesis [Laughs] and they’re arguing about her. Approaching it that way too some of the intimidation out because I knew what was the core of the characters and the scene.

The movie has an amazing cast, but who were you most excited to see bring your dialogue to life when you finally got to sit down and watch the movie? 

Oh man, Meg Donnelly did such an incredible job. She got it, from the really tragic bits right through to the sense of humour. I think her, and Harry Shum Jr., who is now just what I hear in my head when I read Brainiac 5. Those two are just absolutely phenomenal. 

There could have been a version of this movie where, like in the comics, Superman went into the future. I loved that it was Supergirl, so what did getting to put her centre stage mean to you?

For me, it was a lot of fun. It’s like that Krypton scene. As comic book fans, we know and we’ve seen Superboy and Superman in the Legion a million times. Having it be Supergirl and making it her story with her as the main character…it was so fun to write, unexpected to write, and I loved being able to take these old characters and ideas and show a brand new side of them. Supergirl did that amazingly. 

Awesome. Well, we have to wrap, but I hope to see you back for a sequel!

[Laughs] Me too!

Legion of Super-Heroes is set to be released on February 7. 

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