JUSTICE SOCIETY: WORLD WAR II Interview: Co-Writer Jeremy Adams On Adding The Flash To The World Of The JSA
Justice Society: World War II co-writer Jeremy Adams (The Flash) talks to us about bringing the Scarlet Speedster into the world of the JSA, his hopes for a sequel, and the characters he couldn't include.
Justice Society: World War II arrives on streaming platforms on April 27th, 2021, and hits 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray on May 11th, 2021. This next entry in the DC Animated Universe sees The Flash thrust into the midst of an epic battle between Golden Age DC Super Heroes the Justice Society and Nazis for an adventure that definitely doesn't play out the way you might be expecting.
Picking up with Barry Allen in the present day, prior to the formation of the Justice League, the Scarlet Speedster discovers he can run even faster than he imagined, and that milestone results in his first encounter with the Speed Force. Arriving in WWII, he finds himself joining forces with a Golden Age team made up of Wonder Woman, Hourman, Black Canary, Hawkman, Steve Trevor, and Jay Garrick.
Jeremy Adams co-wrote the movie alongside Meghan Fitzmartin (who we'll hear from a little later this week). His credits include Supernatural, Batman: Soul of the Dragon, and Marvel Studios' WHIH News Front, but it's fair to say that this reimagining of the JSA is his most ambitious project yet. You can find more details about his work on the final season of the aforementioned CW series by clicking here.
In this interview, Jeremy - who is currently writing The Flash for DC Comics - talks to us about this fresh take on the team, reveals whether there were any other heroes he'd have liked to include, and even drops some hints about where a possible sequel could take this iconic team of superheroes.
Aside from his ability to tap into the Speed Force, what, for you, made Barry Allen the right character from the present to bring into the JSA’s timeline?
That’s a good question. I’m not sure if I can answer it [Laughs]. Well, first of all, Speed Force, time-travel, and all those sorts of things are part and parcel for The Flash. That is a great vehicle, and it also gives us, as a viewer, a chance to see this through modern eyes. It also leads into the twists we probably shouldn’t talk about. I’ve always felt with The Flash that he’s a little like Doctor Who as in he’s a bit timey-wimey, right? He’s a character who goes between time and universes, and I think that’s critical for the animation universe going forward. The Flash himself is an effective bridge in terms of his power set (which is obviously not so extreme that he’s Superman who can smash heads together, but is instead additive to the JSA) and exploring a little bit more of his mythology which we can hopefully explore in other movies to come.
The JSA is a team that’s been working together for a while when we meet them here; what did you enjoy most when it came to teasing the shared history between the group?
I’m a big fan of dropping hints about things like that, You’ve seen the movie Predator, right? There’s that famous moment where Arnold Schwarzenneger and Carl Weathers smash their arms together and there’s the ‘Dillon, you son of a bitch!’ line and we suddenly care about them more because we know they’ve been through the muck and mire together. You know, it's like, ‘Hey, they’re kind of like family, so I need to look at them like that.’ There doesn’t have to be an origin where they get to know each other because that’s then all the movie is going to be about. If we know they’re family and they’ve been through it together with that brotherhood and sisterhood, then we’re going to care more when they go through things together. I think the most obvious example is Black Canary and Hawkman. When Hawkman gets hurt, she feels deeply about it because they’ve been through these adventures together. As an audience, we become attuned to that very quickly, and it’s a shorthand to get us emotionally invested in their interpersonal relationships.
We don’t see the classic Hawkman/Hawkgirl pairing here, but I think a lot of fans will agree that his dynamic with Black Canary is even more interesting in some ways; what led to you exploring that?
Meghan is really good at that too, and I think it’s something she wanted to explore a little more. What’s most interesting is that as we wrote those characters together is that we probably pushed the brother/sister dynamic a little, but then this magic and alchemy happens between the written page, storyboards, and voice actors which brings out something a little more intense than even we were thinking. Now, when I watch it, I kind of ship Hawkman and Black Canary a little more [Laughs]. I also see the kind of mentorship that’s there too. Specifically with Hawkman, Wes Gleason, our voice director, really wanted to hit upon a different version of Hawkman. He’s more subdued in some ways, he’s not like ‘Hulk Smash!’ and ‘I will destroy everybody!’ To me, it resonated with somebody who would have lived multiple lives. He has an aristocratic wit to him in his portrayal which I thought was so good. I was blown away by what they did with the work we wrote.
You turn expectations on their head with quite a few characters, but were there any heroes or villains you wanted to use that you ultimately couldn’t find a place for in the story?
I will always use more and more people. I think with the JSA, there’s a couple of characters. Alan Scott comes to mind. I’d have loved to do Atom Smasher. At the end of the day, we only have so many resources and so much time for the story, so that’s kind of where we landed. In my mind, those characters still exist. It’s just that this team is on this front right now, and maybe there’s another team on a different front. Maybe if this is super successful, somebody will let us write the other front with those characters!
It feels like the door is definitely left open to more stories featuring this iteration of the JSA; I know it’s probably too soon to talk about a sequel, but where would you like to see the team’s story go next?
I would love to do something on the Pacific. I feel like there are more stories to tell. I’m writing The Flash comic book now, and I would love to follow the JSA and do something with the Spear of Destiny. I’d love to tell a story about that; it would be very cool, and very Raiders of the Lost Ark.
There’s a real bond between these characters, and while some characters have a history in the comics, others don’t. Was it fun for you to tap into that and come up with dynamics we haven’t seen before?
Yeah, anytime you’re talking about war, and I think one of the things that’s compelling about a war story or anyone who goes through a traumatic experience together, it’s that you’re not so concerned about politics or religion. You’re concerned about helping the people next to you. You’re concerned about the humanity of the people and the macro-level of evil vs. good. I think in a world where we’re more divisive than we need to be, to take a step back and remember when good was all on the same said [Laughs] against an evil that was literally trying to overthrow the world...it’s a breath of fresh air. Luckily, my co-writer Meghan, I adore her, and I’m so glad to have done this with her. Jim and I are good friends. It’s interesting to talk about the interplay between characters because that’s so much the fun of comic books too where you have a crossover and a shared history with heroes because they’ve known each other for so long. Just an example with DC Comics: the fact Superman gives Batman a Kryptonite ring or bullet is like, ‘I trust you enough to handle it.’ It speaks volumes. Being able to put in that stuff allows us as an audience to emotionally bond with them quicker and I love that stuff.
Between this movie, Stargirl, and Black Adam, it feels like the JSA are finally getting the attention they deserve. What is it about the team you think resonates with fans having spent so much time writing them?
I think it’s that greatest generation. There’s an earnestness to their fight against evil. Not to mention that the designs are so awesome [Laughs]. I hope that’s what it is. The idea is that the fight against evil was so much easier to understand back then, and there’s inherent wisdom in that. It’s like thinking about your grandparents like, ‘Man, what good people.’ At least for me!
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