BATMAN AND SUPERMAN: BATTLE OF THE SUPER SONS Interview With Director Matt Peters (Exclusive)

In this in-depth Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons interview, director Matt Peters talks about pairing up Jonathan Kent and Damian Wayne, how Superman: The Movie influenced him, and more...

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Legacies must rise to unearthly challenges as the children of Batman and Superman are charged with saving their famous fathers - and the world - in Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons.

Warner Bros. Animation's first-ever all-CG animated, feature-length film begins as 11-year-old Jonathan Kent discovers he has superpowers, thrusting the half-Kryptonian into the complicated world of Super Heroes and Super-Villains - who are now under attack by a malevolent alien force known as Starro!

It’s a race against time as Jonathan must join forces with assassin-turned-Boy-Wonder Damian Wayne to rescue their fathers and save the planet by becoming the Super Sons they were destined to be!

Matt Peters (InjusticeDC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery) returns to the DC Animated Universe to helm this team-up, and as a huge Superman fan, this was something of a dream project for the director. In this interview, he talks us through his creative process, working with CG animation, and the dynamic between these characters. 

The filmmaker also shares insights into Bat-Cow's cameo, Jimmy Olsen being Black in this reality, and why Starro was the right choice of villain for Battle of the Super Sons

Finally, Peters explains how Superman: The Movie inspired his work, and there are a lot of fun and fascinating insights here we're sure you'll enjoy!
 

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How was it sharing this movie with the fans for the first time at New York Comic Con?

Oh, it was a celebration, that’s for sure. The movie turned out great and we got a great reaction from the audience. I think we were all on cloud nine at that point. 

Everyone loves Batman and Superman, but when it came to introducing their kids, characters who many fans will be meeting for the first time here, did that change your approach to this story at all? 

It was the same for me because Rick and Jeremy had read the comics and were both big fans of it. I hadn’t had a chance to read it, so I knew of the Super Sons concept back in the 70s when they did it then, but obviously, it was a lot different. I thought it was really cool to learn who these characters are. Jeremy wrote an incredible script, and the characters are just so unbelievably likeable and enjoyable. For me, it was a little bit of fan projection. We’ve seen Damian before, but what would the son of Superman be like? It was fun to play into that fantasy. 

With Jonathan, he’s discovering this world for the first time, so to see the DC Universe through his eyes must have been a fun creative process?

It was great. It’s a fantasy for me to imagine what it would be like for my dad to be Superman. I mean, my dad is Superman [Laughs], but if he revealed he was the superhero of the era…how fantastic would that be? 

This new animation style is so impressive and it changed so much of this movie, from the camera angles to how the action plays out. What did that CG style mean for you as the director? 

It’s funny. I’ve worked with CG before as Rick and I had done some LEGO stuff together, so it’s something I’m used to with camera movements and things like that. Overall, it goes back to telling the story we want to tell. We were aware that we could do some fun stuff with the camera and were selective about where to do it, but it wasn’t a situation where we wanted the effects to override the story. We wanted the story to be consistent the whole way through. There were some technical things we had to keep an eye out for in terms of stuff that’s different to doing traditional 2D, but honestly, we wanted to focus on making sure the movie worked either way, whether it was CG or traditional. 

I love all the animation styles of these movies, but do you think CG could be the step forward for these projects? 

I love traditional animation, but I also really like what can be done with CG. For me, it was a fun thing to work on the LEGO films because of what we could do with CG animation. To apply those same kinds of effects with a 2D look was really exciting as it had that classic 2D look but we were able to move the camera around in different ways. I think it’s great. I’m team CG myself as I think it makes for a great-looking design and I’d like to see more of it. I hope fans react the same way and WB hears about it [Laughs].

The dynamic between all these characters is so much fun, but which of those did you take the most enjoyment out of exploring? 

It was really fun to play with all the different genres we could. It’s got a lot of heartfelt, I hope, joy and respect for the Donner film. There are also elements of Goonies, Monster Squad, and even Americana with baseball. Even horror elements like The Thing! We were able to play with all these different genres and not pull any punches. At no point did we ever feel like if we played up the horror aspect we shouldn’t also make it heartfelt and joyous and the other way around too. That was the fun of it all. Piecing together these genres to create something unique for a lot of the Warner Bros. stuff we do. 

I mentioned this to Jeremy, but it must have been a blast getting to include Bat-Cow and Krypto in the movie? 

[Laughs] I think I laughed out loud. I remember saying, ‘Really? We’re doing Bat-Cow?’ I was almost like, ‘Is everyone gonna get that?’ Rick basically said, ‘I don’t care if they get it or not. If they get it, great, and if they don’t, they’ll wonder what this is and find out.’ It was really fun. Krypto was a given, making him the home security system for the Fortress of Solitude I thought was on point and absolutely hysterical. 

Starro is a great choice of villain, and a huge threat to pit these two against. Did you always plan to use him here or were there other, perhaps smaller, bad guys considered?

I’m not sure. I know Rick and Jeremy have been playing around with the idea of doing these characters for some time. There was a good four years before they even got this script pitched, so the two of them were always messing around with ideas of what they wanted to see. I’m not exactly sure if it was always the plan for him to be the villain and I’m more than happy to see it. It made for a perfectly great story to bring the characters. 

What do you like about Starro as a villain? The Suicide Squad obviously brought him into the mainstream, so good timing there. 

Yeah, I think for me, I don’t know if it was great or not, but thought it was timely because we started production on this movie right when COVID hit. It was really the first movie we made on lockdown. We were joking, but first of all, we were so happy to have our production crew who went over the moon to get this thing made. They did such an incredible job and the WB tech department too. That made it possible to make this movie. However, we were sitting there going, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re making a movie about a foreign invasion about some disease spreading from person to person.’ [Laughs] This feels a little too close to home [Laughs]. In a weird way, it was almost therapy for us to get over COVID. 
 

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Aside from the expected difficulties, did the lockdowns make it even harder to develop a CG project like Super Sons?

Primarily, the artists just end up sitting at our desks doodling and drawing like the shut-ins that we are. I think it felt more natural for us. The real challenge was production and the technical aspect of it. Like I said, that’s where our crew just pulled out all the stops. Honestly, I would stand up and applaud all of them in the credits because they essentially reinvented the wheel for us. We took for granted working in a studio and they were able to reinvent it so we could work from home. It was incredible and I never felt any pain from it. It felt totally normal and I think we worked better. That’s really the hard work of the production crew, so hats off to them on this one. 

This is very much a father/son story, but seeing as Batman and Superman were childless for so many years in the comics, what do you think it is about these characters being dads that does work so well? 

Personally, as my wife was expecting when we started working on this project and Rick had just had his son, and Jeremy also has family, so in an odd way, we were all at that time in our lives when we started on the movie of having kids. Part of the reason it works for the characters is there’s a nurturing aspect to them. Batman has Robin which goes back to his creation almost. When it comes to Superman, he’s always caring and giving, so it feels natural that we’d see these characters become parents and getting to see firsthand what their children are like. It ends up feeling like a natural move for them, but also like something new we haven’t seen before. 

We get to go back to Krypton in this movie for that iconic Superman origin, so as a filmmaker, how much did you like getting to put your own spin on it?

Oh yeah, to me, that’s classic mythology. I can’t talk or think about Superman without thinking about his origin. Whether it be the Donner movie or the vintage comics from when I was a kid, I pored over it, and I think it’s part of American mythology. Getting a chance to even touch on it a little bit was a perfect opportunity and lucky for me being a fan. 

I thought it was great to see a Black Jimmy Olsen in the film; it’s not a big deal, it’s just the way it is which is great. Is it your hope to see more diverse characters like that moving forward? 

It’s an interesting thing. Like you said, when you switch the diversity, it doesn’t feel different or like you’re altering the character. That spells out how much the issue of who we are is an appearance thing and nothing more, so that’s great and comforting to know in a humanity way. The other thing that’s great is I like the inclusiveness of it. I think that’s really important and it’s nice to be able to introduce or make characters other people at home can relate to and feel, ‘Hey, that’s me.’ That’s vital and I’m all for it. It’s great. It doesn’t intrude on the narrative or spirit and all it really does is help welcome more people from the audience and make them feel more involved. It’s a great thing. 

I loved those stylised opening credits, so what was the thought process behind those and is that something you’d like to see more of in these movies?

I thought they were fun. We had Michael Golden doing the artwork for those. I think it was in the script, but for me being a Superman fan, it was an opportunity to embellish and involve myself in all his history. We had a lot of great people working on it and it was a fun, shorthand way to get through his history. It kind of reminds me a little bit of the opening credits for Superman 2. I always get a kick out of those because they were basically a shorthand way of watching Superman: The Movie [Laughs].

So, those movies were definitely a big inspiration for you working on this project?

They’re a big influence on me on just about every project, in all honesty. The Superman movies I grew up watching. They’re part of my DNA. When I’ll watch Superman: The Movie, I’ll actually watch the extended three-hour version of Blu-ray, not because I think it’s the best version of the movie, but because it has the most movie [Laughs]. The most footage. Those movies mean so much to me and I’ve always felt that not only do they get the tone and attitude of Superman so right, but also the tone and temperament for a superhero film. I go to those for every project, at least in spirit. Obviously, with this one, they really hit home. 

Have you given any thought to where you’d like to take this franchise next should you return for a sequel? 

[Laughs] I’m not sure! I’d love to see more Super Sons in the future. I know Rick and Jeremy…it was a labour of love, so they’d like to take another swing at it. It really comes down to whether fans let Warner Bros. know how much they love it and, if they do, I can’t see why there wouldn’t be more. 

Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons lands on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and Digital on October 18, 2022.
 

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