PART 2 - JUSTICE LEAGUE ANIMATED: A Behind the Scenes Look

In this excerpt from the second installment in a continuing series, producers Bruce Timm, James Tucker and Rich Fogel provide details on the early development stages of Justice League Animated.

Producer Rich Fogel points out that a challenge of bringing the Justice League series to life was determining exactly who should be a part of the team since, as Bruce Timm has noted, they were not designed to go together originally.

“They had their own origins, their own universe and their own lives,” says Fogel. “It wasn’t like the Fantastic Four where those characters were designed specifically to go together. Or the X-Men. If you look at the early Justice League comic books, they threw them together without much attention to detail, and everybody ended up being the sort of generic good guy. There was no personality, no dynamic between them. So one of the big challenges we had in the first season was, we’re putting this group together, what niche are they going to fill? How are they going to play off of each other? Our early conception of Superman was that he was the sincere boy scout, the guy who has a moral standard, knows what he’s doing and believes what he’s doing and all of that. That let other characters play off of his point of view. As we moved into the second season, we were able to begin shading that more. I think that applies to Wonder Woman and Green Lantern as well. We were able to get more facets and shades of gray into their characters and approaches. But none of that would have worked if we hadn’t done the set up we did in the first season. The audience needs to understand specifically who these characters are and how they relate to each other. A lot of effort in the first season went into the laying of that groundwork.”

Timm concurs with this thought, emphasizing that in the old comics there was little that actually separated one member of the League from another. “They were basically the same guy wearing different colors with slightly different powers,” he says. “That’s why even in season one we tried to make sure the characters were very individual from each other. Sometimes you go for the easy stereotype – Green Lantern is the hardcore military guy, Flash is the goofball young guy, Wonder Woman is the stuck-up Amazon Princess, Hawkgirl is the battle-ready whatever. You start with those broad characteristics and then try to add more flavors to them so that they’re more dimensional. In season two, we tried to expand on that even more. I think as season two went on, we started showing in Flash, for example, different sides to his character than we had in season one. He’s still the young, kind of goofball guy, but what was great about that is that because for the most part we played him fast and loose, when he would show a more caring or mature side, it would take you by surprise. It had more strength. Even in season one’s ‘Savage Time,’ there’s the great scene where he chews Hawkgirl out for leaving Green Lantern behind on the battlefield. You’ve never seen Flash act like that before. There was actual depth and strong feelings for his buddy Green Lantern expressed as he took it out on Hawkgirl, and it was really neat to see him do that. So those are some of the things that we tried to do in season two.”

Co-producer James Tucker points out that virtually every decision made in the development of Justice League was driven by Timm’s philosophy that the team was not working on a cartoon, but that they were laboring on a stylized live-action show.

“Our thoughts going in are basically we can do what live action can’t because of the budget,” he says. “But we don’t go in there thinking it’s totally unrealistic or cartoony, for lack of a better word. We treat it as though it’s live action, so we try to come up with staging and actions that a real person could do if they had superpowers. Basically that’s our special effects coming out. Of course now with computers, there are a lot of shows capable of getting that sense of scale. The bar has definitely been raised by shows like Alias and Buffy. Originally I think the mandate was to mimic live action, to make it feel real and moody and have the emotions be real. That also goes with the voice acting. We always err on the side of naturalistic voice acting, rather than that cartoony, squeaky voice. In this day and age, unless it’s being satirical like Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, it just doesn’t work for the animation.”

For the rest of this installment, please visit Voices From Krypton by clicking on the image below.

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