JUSTICE LEAGUE ANIMATED PART 3: Behind the Scenes
One of the biggest criticisms in season one of Justice League was the fact that it seemed as though Superman was always being immobilized, and fairly effortlessly so. The Justice League would go into action, some alien contraption or another would be fired, and there would go the Man of Steel slipping into unconsciousness. From the fans’ point of view, this was a major bone of contention.
Justice League/Justice League Unlimited remain among the most popular entries in the DC Tooniverse, This is the third installment in our ongoing series taking an in depth behind the scenes look at the making of Justice League.
“Superman got beat up and knocked on his ass all the time on his own show,” James Tucker points out. “The difference was that the camera stayed on Superman because it was his show. There was no one else to come in and pick up the slack or change the focus to. Because the focus was on Superman, you waited until he got up and came back. Well on Justice League, Superman takes a licking, goes off screen and we don’t necessarily follow him. We stay at that point and Green Lantern or Wonder Woman comes in. The main mistake we made with that was having him get hit all the time and not showing him recovering and coming right back. We erred on the side of caution, because Superman theoretically should be able to handle all of these problems by himself. I don’t think we made him weaker, we just didn’t cover our bases as far as showing him be Superman.”
Rich Fogel notes that a lot of thought went into the approach to the Man of Steel. “One was that we needed to get situations where the other heroes had an opportunity to show what they could do, because they hadn’t been in series before,” he says. “We had to devise ways to knock Superman out of the picture so the other guys could do things. The other thing – and I don’t know how to put this delicately – is that there was a certain inattentiveness to the storyboarding in the first season. There were certain bits of business that had been successful in the past with Superman in his own series that tended to get repeated a lot. These were not written in the scripts, it was in fleshing out the action that this happened. It wasn’t until we got the footage back that we saw Superman was getting kicked around a lot. In the second season we tried to pay better attention to it so that we were not letting things like that slip through the cracks.”
Adds Tucker, “There’s no way to easily change directions mid-stream. It’s like a ship leaving a dock: you can’t turn around right away. You just have to make the best of what you’ve got and if you get a pick up or another season, address them then. That’s what we did with ‘Twilight.’”
“Twilight” was the season two premiere which pit the Justice League against Brainiac and, more importantly, Darkseid. As to changes in approach to Superman, at one point the Man of Steel warns the ruler of Apokalips, “I’m not stopping until you’re a grease smear on my fist.”
Smiles Bruce Timm, “We felt we needed to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘This is our mission statement for season two, which is, ‘Goodbye Superwimp.’ We may have overcompensated in that episode; some of his dialogue is a little out there. Still, I think it’s definitely in context of him dealing with Darkseid. He’d never say it to Luthor, but he could to Darkseid. In any case, it represented a major change from season one.”
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