SDCC 09 - Hal, Kal & Bruce Headline DC ANIMATION Panel


It’s not often Green Lantern gets to push Batman and Superman off the main stage, but it happened Friday night at the DC Universe Animated panel at Comic-Con.

That’s because the buzz surrounding the division’s latest release, Green Lantern: First Flight,” continues to build.

Debuting in stores on DVD/Blu-ray next Tuesday, it’s a 77-minute galaxy-spanning road trip that shows how Hal Jordan became a member of the GL Corps and how he wound up as Sinestro’s sworn enemy. The film was screened Thursday night at SDCC, and demand was so great, two thousand fans had to be turned away.

Director Lauren Montgomery, casting director Andrea Romano, Juliet Landau (who voices ‘Labella’) as well as producers Alan Burnett and Bruce Timm made up the panel. Several clips from First Flight were shown during the presentation.

Burnett said he fashioned the film’s storyline after one of his favorite cop dramas, Training Day.

“This movie is as much about Sinestro as it is about Hal Jordan,” Burnett said.

Timm pointed out that the best villains are the ones who don’t see themselves as villains. In First Flight, Sinestro is frustrated by the Guardians’ approach and takes matters into his own hands.

Montgomery praised Garber for nailing Sinestro’s sense of entitlement and superiority. Romano praised the work of the two lead voices.

“You would have thought Christopher Meloni (Hal Jordan) and Victor Garber had been working together for years,” Romano said. “They were so good together.”

Garber, BTW, was not the first choice to voice Sinestro. Deadwood star Ian McShane was, according to Timm.

If you’ve seen any scenes from First Flight, you know Sinestro is a bit more … buff than he appears in the comics or in the old Challenge of the Super Friends show. Montgomery says it was by design, because she wanted Sinestro to be able to stand toe-to-toe with Hal Jordan.

After a brief video preview of the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game, it was time to talk about the next DCU title, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. Based on Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness’ comic series, it debuts on Blu-ray/DVD September 29th.

Director Sam Liu, writer Stan Berkowitz, supervising producer Michael Goguen, Romano and Timm were onstage, along with the voice of Lex Luthor, Clancy Brown and the Dark Knight himself, Kevin Conroy.

Considering the film drops in two months, the panel was surprisingly light on footage. But at least what they showed had an impact. The audience cheered loudly during a 60-second trailer of the movie, which had about two dozen familiar DCU characters, as well as two separate scenes from the film.

The first showed Superman and Batman, battered and bruised in the sewers. They’re struggling to get back to the Batcave so they can lick their wounds and regroup.

The second showed Bats & Supes back-to-back against a swarm of villains. And if you never thought you’d see the day when Superman would hit a woman, well…

Goguen and Timm talked about the unique challenge of animating McGuinness’ distinctive artwork, especially in regards to musculature.

The large number of characters in the film forced the producers to scour the Internet to make sure they got everyone’s costumes and powers right. “You don’t want non-superpowered people show up in the film flying,” Goguen said.

 With Public Enemies Berkowitz faced the same problem he had when adapting New Frontier, another multi-layered storyline with hordes of heroes. But he said this story was actually easier to translate.

Conroy says part of the reason the DC ‘toons are so good is that Romano insists the voice actors lay their tracks down together. He says interaction between the actors ultimately translates to the animated final work.

One last bit of DC animation news: The DC Shorts program is officially a “Go.”

Confirming what’s been rumored for some time, it was confirmed that a series of shorts will be created to be included with DCU’s Direct-to-DVD films. The first DC Short will be based on Jonah Hex.

No release date for the Hex short has been set.

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