In Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse, Lex Luthor wields an ancient Kryptonian power and unites the world's supervillains to capture the DC Universe's heroes. With only the fan-favourite DC Super Hero Girls left to stop the Legion of Doom, the team must cross dimensions to rescue their fellow superheroes from the Phantom Zone, but a fortuitous wrong turn leads them to Titans Tower...where they find much-needed allies in the iconic Teen Titans!
That's the premise of this awesome blockbuster event, and we can promise you'll have an absolute riot with this hilarious, action-packed crossover. Ahead of its Digital, Blu-ray, and DVD release on May 24, co-director Matt Peters took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss this wacky crossover.
In this in-depth conversation about this Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls crossover, the filmmaker breaks down some of the biggest challenges faced while developing this event and the fun that was had while combining these franchises. Matt also explains the movie's unique take on Superman, his favourite cameos, and how they pulled off a scene with the iconic DC Super Friends.
We also hear from him about working with co-director Katie Rice, Mayhem in the Multiverse's slightly more serious messages, and the DC crossover he'd like to one day see become a reality!
As a director, your last few projects like Injustice and Constantine, have been pretty dark and adult-orientated, so how challenging is it, tonally, to go from those back to a project like this one?
It isn’t too hard. Constantine, for example, had moments of humour in it too. I always approach these projects the same way. They’re all stories and I’m just focused on the stories I want to tell with these characters. If there’s more humour, then that’s fine, but if it’s a little more serious with less humour, my approach remains the same. There’s also some serious stuff in this DC Super Hero Girls movie too which I thought was good. Both types of movies have their drama and their laughs.
I think it’s fair to say that Superman is pretty condescending to Supergirl at times here. Why was that relationship between the cousins something you wanted to explore in this movie?
It feels unique to the DC Super Hero Girls Story. I’ll be honest, as a Superman fan, when I first came across it, I bristled a little bit. I was like, ‘Superman’s not condescending!’ [Laughs] ‘How dare they!’ When I saw what they were doing and how it brought Kara’s story to the fore so she could stand on her own two feet and really gain her own voice, I realised it worked really well. I also don’t think they lost sight of Clark or Kal-El’s personality. It’s not like they made him into a big jerk; it was more just the dynamic in their relationship. I found that a really refreshing thing to explore.
When it came time to have these Teen Titans and DC Super Hero Girls characters share the screen, what were some of the hurdles, if any, you faced with having them mix it up?
For me, it was mostly enjoyment. I think the Teen Titans Go! show is fantastic and I love the designs. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I’d have my G.I. Joe and Star Wars figures and would have those two universes cross over. This had the same feeling for me. The idea I was taking some great designs and established characters from Teen Titans Go! but then also taking some great designs and established DC Super Hero Girls and smashing them together was, for a geek like myself, was huge fun. I got to bring them together and play with them!
Did you ever consider playing around with the animation styles or was it important they look how fans expect even when the DC Super Hero Girls do enter that Teen Titans world?
Each of them has their own unique styles and storytelling techniques and that was something both Katie [Rice] and I considered while we were looking at it. We had some really talented board work that captured the magic of both shows and made the crossover seamless. Ultimately, it comes down to James [Tucker] at the end. He’s the one who is looking at the animation, bringing in the timing, and overlooking it to make sure it works seamlessly. I think it worked great, so it was a team effort of everyone involved to make it work.
What did the process of working with your co-director Katie Rice involve and how did you handle directing duties across the course of making the film?
I did this before when I was working on Apokolips War with Christina Sotta. We basically had a conversation at the beginning about which things we’d like to work on. Obviously, I always push to take the Superman scenes [Laughs] and I think that’s a relief for some people, honestly, and they’re more than happy to let me take that. We did a quick divide from there and it worked out for the best. Katie is outstanding. The one thing that was a little different working with Katie compared to Christina was we also boarded ourselves and we would actually direct one another. When I was finished directing a scene, I would hand it to Katie, and vice versa. It was a nice opportunity for us to look over one another’s work and find the opportunities to plus things. Mostly, it was Katie plussing my stuff. She’s incredible at acting and getting things right. Plus, she’s a girl herself, so she has a better narrative take on the story than I did. It was really fun being able to do that back and forth with each other.
There are a lot of strong messages in the film about female friendship which I thought was great, but what did you enjoy most about getting to work with the characters from the DC Super Hero Girls Universe?
Honestly, I think it’s the personalities when they’re with each other. I like when they’re at the store together or when they’re at their headquarters. There’s something kind of fun about them just hanging out and seeing them be friends. They each have such strong personalities and such different sensibilities that it’s great to see that comedy play off one another. It feels like a collection of really cool friends that I think everyone can relate to. Everyone has their troop or posse or whatever that they hang out with, and seeing them spend time with one another and see the quirks and affection they have for their teammates…that, to me, was probably the most rewarding part.
In terms of the Teen Titans, they’re a very eclectic, funny group of characters, so how much fun was it to get to play around with the meta-commentary and in-jokes they’re so well-known for?
It’s always fun. We’re all working in animation, so we’re constantly self-aware of what we’re actually doing. When you’re lucky enough to work on a number of projects, you start seeing the things fans react to and just what we’re thinking about while we’re doing it. It’s great to take a group like the Teen Titans and do that meta-commentary and play with it a little. It’s almost like a peek into the commentary we have while working on it.
There are always fan expectations with these movies, but when you have two beloved franchises like these, did that pressure differ at all when you’re looking to make two lots of fans of the shows happy rather than just us picky comic book readers?
I think one of the things we try to do…we’re all fans of this stuff ourselves, so the best way to satisfy fans is to let the movie play out the way it would naturally. As a Superman fan myself, I get very sensitive about how he is portrayed, how he comes off, and his ideals. In an odd way, I feel like I’m a custodian to making sure his personality comes off in a proper way. That bleeds through to the entire crew because we’re all fans of comics and animation. If it’s not one, it’s the other, and there will usually be someone on the team who is a fan of something even if another person isn’t. We’re constantly aware of that and by being fans ourselves, I think we end up making something that satisfies the fans as well. We don’t have to think too much about engineering satisfaction as it comes naturally.
When the DC Super Hero Girls and Teen Titans do finally cross paths, what would you say was the most enjoyable thing about combining these characters and having them interact?
As directors, we’re always looking to see where we can exploit or have fun with something. The idea of how angry Robin can be and his desire to be considered bigger than himself…the characters end up lampooning themselves! As directors and storytellers, we’re just happy to find those little glimpses to poke fun at the characters. Ultimately, Jase Ricci’s script was so clever and funny. Reading it was a blast so a lot of the credit goes to him because he gave us something fun to read. We were then able to take that ball and run with it.
As a fan, I really appreciated how many characters were in the film. Were there any cameos you pushed to include, even if they were just in the background? Someone you’re a fan of perhaps?
Not really! It was more like having fun with character combinations that I’ve always liked. I’ve always enjoyed that Green Lantern and The Flash are buddies and chums. It makes sense historically as they’re both at the start of the Silver Age for comic books, but it works thematically both in comics and animation. Even the colour of their uniforms is complimentary. I don’t know it is, but there’s something fun about having those two guys come together. That was a fun thing for me to play with.
I thought Cythonna was a really interesting choice of villain, especially as she’s pretty obscure in the grand scheme of the DC Universe; what led you to her for this particular story?
That was pretty cool and a deep dive into Kryptonian history. I love that stuff. The comics are always there offering us a whole variety of different characters to explore and when you can find one who makes you feel like you have to check the DC Wikipedia page to find out who the character is, it’s fun. It’s almost like a new character, and for those who know them, you can exploit those things, but for new fans, it’s like a whole new person you didn’t know existed.
The Multiverse concept is a very popular one right now, but if you could mash up any other animated franchises, whether it be in the DC Universe or beyond, what would they be?
I think Scooby-Doo. Scooby-Doo and the Justice League. If they could bring the Super Friends back, I’d love to see a Super Friends and Scooby-Doo combination, but I’m probably just ageing myself right now [Laughs].
Talking of the Super Friends, how tricky was that cameo? Was it always the plan or a fight to get it into the film?
Again, it was something that Jase came up with when he put it together. It was right there in the script and the minute I read it, I practically confronted Katie and said I was going to board that part myself [Laughs]. I felt like I knew the DNA of that show and I wanted to get the shots right and the camera moves right. I went and found all the models I could and tried to make it as close as possible in the boards so our animation team would have very little leeway in terms of getting it wrong if that’s possible [Laughs]. The minute I saw Jase had put it in, I just cracked up and was happy.
It feels like there's real sequel potential here; are you hopeful about returning to this world or do you view it as a one and done?
I had so much fun working on this movie. I had a blast working with Katie and the crew and I think we’ve both said that this was probably one of the most fun projects we’ve ever had and it felt like it went off effortlessly. Anytime I get the chance, I’d love to.
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Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse is available on Digital, Blu-ray & DVD on May 24. The movie event also premieres on Cartoon Network on May 28 and starts streaming on HBO Max beginning June 28!