"I wanna get the dvd, mom." That was the voice of a small child after the screening of LEGO Batman: The Movie - DC Superheroes Unite at the Paley Center in New York on Monday night.Jon Burton, the Director and Producer of the film said they actually started making this movie before making the video game, paused to make the game, then came back to the film.
Jeremy Pardon said there are some Easter Eggs to catch throughout the film, including Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Zatana. The end of the credit reel has a lot of "fun play throughout the credits," as well.
The music of Danny Elfman and John Williams used for Batman and Superman "lend authenticity to the film," said Burton.
"One of these days, this is what I'm going to do," said Troy Baker of watching Batman: The Animated Series at home after school growing up. He would tape the show and pause to read the names of the voice actors involved.
"And it all started with that music!" When he saw the screener of this movie and heard the music kick up, he said "the twelve year old in me wept! To be a part of something like this, especially as Batman, it calls back to your childhood."
"Since I was 4, I've been wearing a blanket around my neck and jumping off the bed," Travis WIllngham said of playing Superman. "He was one of my favorites growing up. I felt like there was this responsibility and this great importance to playing the character. But then it's LEGO so it has to be fun!"
"I felt like we had to take our shoes off when we walked in for the audition," said Baker, "we were walking into hallowed ground!"
Willingham wore a Superman t-shirt under his button down into the audition, and said he felt like he had to tear open the shirt to get the voice right. Working with Troy Baker was easy for Willingham, as the pair are best friends and next-door neighbors.
"They told me I had to be the ultimate boy scout and so helpful that it was annoying to Batman. It's really easy for me to be annoying to Troy!"
Baker, of course, has been in the world of Batman before, having played Two-Face (as well as others) in Batman: Arkham City.
Clancy Brown told the story of how he originally got the role of Lex Luthor. Andrea Romano and Bruce Timm, when getting ready to do Superman: The Animated Series were looking "outside the box a bit" for the series. Brown had done a few small roles on Batman: TAS and was called in.
"I was thrilled. Here, I though, if I'm always a villain on the big screen, maybe I can at least be a hero in animation!" Brown said of the call. "I went in, and I did the best audition for Superman that I think anyone has ever done! (laughs) But they wanted a TV star so they went out and got Tim Daly.The Cast & Crew on the
red carpet"They came back to me and asked if I would read for Lex. Like a fool, I made a big deal about it, 'Oh why does everyone always want me to audition for the bad guy!' and they said, 'okay, well you don't have to do that…' and I said, 'No, wait, I'll do it!' I was a little disappointed that I never got to be the good guy, ever in my life.
"It turns out that he's the greatest character to play, so much fun."
The panel and fan Q&A remained lively, with the panelists keeping the audience rolling with laughter throughout. Brown speaking of his character's goals in the movie was a show-stopper:
"It did give me the opportunity to spread Joker's gas. It's one of the greatest Lex plots of all time, to spread another bad guy's gas all over the city!"
Warner Animation PR Gary Miereanu quickly turned the panel over to the fans in attendance who ranged from ages 6 to about 60, showing the movie's wide-ranging appeal.
Burton spoke of the specifics of using the LEGO versions of popular characters, something he's well-versed in having done several LEGO games using all sorts of pop culture icons. "It's about making them larger than life," Burton told fans. "We know Batman's a bit grumpy, so we had to make him super grumpy! And making Superman the super boy scout. It's getting across the characters.
Pardon added that while approaching things from a younger and more comedic slant, "the thing about the characters is that they believe in who they are. It's not "LEGO Batman," he's just Batman."
Brown praised the work of TT Games, calling them "the real deal" and saying how much he loved working on this animation when asked what his favorite he's ever done was.
"You know, these LEGO games and movies have become a complete sub genre in and of themselves," Brown noted, while saying he loves having something he can share easily with his ten year-old son.
While Brown did admit that Kevin Conroy, voice of Batman in Batman: The Animated Series and many other projects is what he thinks is the most iconic take on the character, he said that Baker became his favorite to work with. Baker conceded that Conroy was the best, too, saying "are you kidding? He's the reason I got into this in the first place!"
Burton wouldn't (or couldn't) reveal whether or not TT would be involved in more LEGO full-length features, perhaps even one for a theater release, but noted his pride in getting this one made entirely using their video game engine.
"It was very high risk, very experimental. For sure in the future that would be brilliant!" he exclaimed, and noted that they love working with LEGO and all the properties that come with it, and are always looking forward to future projects.
Pardon's favorite part of the movie was Lex's big ship getting knocked off the building and seeing it deconstruct, all 11,971 LEGO bricks.
"If you were to build that it would be 2.13 meters long in real life!" "It was just fantastic fun smashing that thing up!"
To compare, he noted, the Millennium Falcon deluxe set is 5,000 bricks and 1 meter long.Clancy Brown Voicing Lex Joker's Robot in the film would be 1 meter tall and is made of 21,000 bricks.
"These LEGO models are real, they're really made in our engine. You could follow the blueprints in there to build them."
A very young fan asked further about the construction of all the models in the movie, a bit confused and thinking they were using stop-motion. Burton clarified, telling her that there are LEGO master builders on their staff that do actually build parts or all of the big models they use for their games and movies, then they reconstruct them in the computer to make them move.
Brown told the fan, "doesn't that sound like a great career?" and encouraged her to keep playing with LEGOs.
Baker wrapped up, saying "You know, I think every one of us up here once got in trouble for what we're now calling our profession. I'm getting paid now to do what got me into detention before."
Willingham chimed in, "Talking to yourself and making weird voices?"
After a laugh, Baker imitated his mother's voice saying "Stop doing that! What are you going to do with the rest of your life, make funny sounds, and voices?" Then made a big smirk and stuck out his tongue, showing the LEGO spirit stays with the actors long after their work is complete.
LEGO Batman: The Movie - DC Superheroes Unite hits DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Download on May 21, 2013.