The second Justice League: Doom Q&A session of the week (read our report from Monday in New York City) at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles on Thursday featured vocal and behind-the-scenes talent, plus talk of the feature's screenwriter, the late Dwayne McDuffie.
McDuffie, who passed away a year ago this month, was praised by prolific voice director Andrea Romano for his skill at translating interior monologues and narration in comic books into effective on-screen dialogue.
"Dwayne had that remarkable ability of taking source material and making it actable," Romano said during the post-screening panel discussion.
Later, Romano further discussed adapting graphic novels to animation, saying "why bother" producing a literal scene-for-scene recreation, as the Warner team would rather make a story their own.
To that effect, a notable audience member — Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins — asked Romano what goes into the thought process of selecting different voice actors for the same role in different features; i.e., what makes long-time Superman Tim Daly right for Justice League: Doom, but James Denton the choice for All-Star Superman.
Romano answered that it depends on the project, and often Warner Animation will want a distinct look for a character and a different voice to go along with it, and stated that she would have cast Daly in the Justice League animated series had the actor not relocated to Rhode Island at the time.
Daly, who first voiced Superman in the character's solo animated series that ran from 1996 to 2000, said that when he originally played the role, he "didn't really realize how important Superman was to humanity," calling the superhero icon "bigger than comics."
"Superman is such a straight arrow," Daly told panel moderator Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times' "Hero Complex" blog. It's an aspect of the character Daly originally struggled with, but now embraces. "He is just good, and that's OK."
Phil Morris spoke of the differences between the Vandal Savage he plays in Justice League: Doom and the one he portrayed in the Justice League animated series, saying that the one in the new feature is a less nuanced, more focused take on the ageless villain.
"I don't find it any easier or harder than playing the hero," said Morris, who played the live-action Martian Manhunter in Smallville, of voicing the villain of the piece. "It's not easy to play the straight arrow," he said, echoing Daly's earlier words.
Justice League: Doom, out on DVD and Blu-ray on Feb. 28 and based on the Mark Waid-written JLA story "Tower of Babel," also features the return of Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman. Eisenberg told the Paley crowd that voice acting is more active of a job that one might suspect.
"You're actually moving, you're standing up, and you're physically acting it out," Eisenberg said.
Olivia d'Abo — you might know her as Kevin's sister on The Wonder Years — is also back in a familiar role in Justice League: Doom, playing Star Sapphire. d'Abo said she didn't realize that Carol Ferris (whom she voiced in 2009's Green Lantern: First Flight) was a Star Sapphire until reading the Doom script.
"It's always nice when you discover something in a character," d'Abo said.
The biggest reaction of the audience-fueled portion of the Q&A came when a fan asked the panel how it felt to make a better Green Lantern movie than the live-action one released last summer.
"They give us a really low bar to jump over," said Justice League: Doom director Lauren Montgomery.
The panel ended with Romano teasing the upcoming DC Animated adaptation of the seminal Batman story The Dark Knight Returns, and while she's not yet able to reveal who's voicing the aged version of the Caped Crusader in the production, her excitement was clear.