INJUSTICE Interview: Producer Rick Morales On Superman Breaking Bad And Adapting The Comics (Exclusive)

INJUSTICE Interview: Producer Rick Morales On Superman Breaking Bad And Adapting The Comics (Exclusive)

Injustice producer Rick Morales talks to us about taking Superman down a dark path, the importance of the comics to the film, that impressive voice cast, and why he doesn't relish killing superheroes.

Injustice will be available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital on October 19, and the movie kicks off with an unthinkable tragedy that propels Superman into a dangerous new mindset, ultimately pitting Justice League members against each other in what we can promise you is a brutal, bloody battle. 

Based on the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game, this animated adaptation from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment primarily pulls from Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato's critically acclaimed comic book prequels, telling an original story with a lot of iconic moments thrown in for good measure.

Earlier this week, we spoke to producer Rick Morales (Mortal Kombat Legacy) to discuss the work that went into creating this story and a darker take on Superman we know Warner Bros. has started moving away from on the big screen. He also addresses changes made to the voice cast, not taking pleasure in killing these iconic characters, and the possibility of sequels and spinoffs following this movie.

It was great to hear from Rick again, and we'll have much more to share with you on this one soon. 
 

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The Injustice concept originated in a game rather than a comic book, so did that mean working with NetherRealm as well as DC Comics? 

In a way. I will say that this film…it’s kinda funny because it started as a game and then made its way into comic books. In a lot of ways, this film is based more on what was done in the comics than in the games. It’s all related, but we were certainly looking much more at the comic books. NetherRealm had a little less involvement on this one than in the previous Mortal Kombat movies that we did. 

The film borrows a lot from the comics through "Year Zero" to "Year Five," but did you ever consider doing a straight-up adaptation of the game of one of those arcs, or was it always the plan to tell an original story using this concept? 

That was the plan. I had thought, in my head, when this was first mentioned to me as something we could possibly do, ‘Boy, it’s too sprawling. There’s a lot.’ As you said, there’s five seasons worth of comics and a lot of ideas packed into it. Ernie [Altbacker] came on as our writer and I was just amazed at how much he was able to maintain to still tell a full story that made sense, hitting all these moments from the comic books that played well. It worked out! 

What, for you, made Ernie Altbacker and Matt Peters the right creative team to tell this version of Injustice

I’ve worked with both going back a long time now. I’ve always liked working with Ernie. He’s just got such a good sense for these characters as a whole and I know he does his research. [Laughs] He went through all that stuff and had to re-read all those comics, look at the games, and watch all that. Then, he had to try and pare it all down into something that held together as its own feature. I worked with Matt on so many projects, so I trust him. With this film, it’s sort of like, ‘Oh yeah, Superman goes bad. It’s the movie about Superman being evil.’ I didn’t want to reduce it to that. Superman is probably my favourite comic book character, period, and I know Matt has a lot of respect and love for the character as well. I wanted him because of that and I knew he wasn’t just going to play Superman as this moustache-twirling villain. You feel why he makes this transition in the film. I wanted to be respectful and make sure he didn’t just go bad and strike out. He thinks he’s doing the right thing throughout the course of this movie until the end when he goes off the rails, but it was important that there were two sides to this in Batman and Superman. In a way, you can understand why people would be happy about what Superman has done by killing The Joker and giving them security. These are all things that I think there will be a large number of people saying, ‘Great, I’m glad he did that. Finally!’ 

On the theatrical side, I know Warners wanted to move away from that darker portrayal of Superman in Justice League, but did you have any caveats with what could be done with him or any other characters in this film? 

There was no discussion about us holding back at all [Laughs] with these characters. It was a little bit shocking to me, but at the same time, this does come from known material in the video games and we were trying to honour that. I think they just let us go. 
 

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It’s not often we get to see these iconic heroes and villains die on screen, so did you have any reservations about that or was it just fun to let loose and take down these big names?

[Laughs] I never take pleasure in that. I’m such a traditionalist and I do have a real affection for these characters, you know? Especially Nightwing and Robin. It has to serve the story. I don’t relish killing these characters [Laughs]. I think that’s the best way to put it. It does serve the story and it does bring our main characters into these situations we’ve possibly never seen this way before in a film. Batman totally breaks down. We see him sobbing. I think that’s a punch to the gut. Seeing him cut loose like that means things have really gone off the rails. It was a fun movie to make, but I think we always feel bad. It’s like Nightwing; when we kill him, we had to make it just heart-wrenching. Some of the deaths in the Mortal Kombat movies we’ve done can be played for fun or laughs, but that’s not the case at all in Injustice. Everything should hurt. 

The voice cast is amazing and there are a lot of actors here who are playing these characters for the first time - did you consider bringing some familiar voices back whether it be from the game or previous movies, or do you think using fresh voices each time is part of the fun of these movies?

I think it’s that, but also…I knew right away there may be some pushback from fans wanting to see their favourites. There always is, but especially as there are voice actors who played these characters in the video games that are associated with this property. In my mind, we’re doing an Elseworlds that’s based primarily on comic books. I wanted to have some fun bringing in new people that haven’t got a shot at this by starting a new world where at some point in the future, if you could revisit it, it would be great to bring all these people back. Anson [Mount]...I loved his Batman voice. I think he’s great as he’s got all that gravel. Justin [Hartley] made a great Superman and I really loved our cast all the way down and I hope people are into it too. 

Without spoiling anything, it feels a lot like we could return to this animated Injustice world for a possible sequel or an expansion - is that something you’d be interested in?

I would love to do that, absolutely. That would be a lot of fun and there are all kinds of places you can take it. That’s always a possibility. 

Were there any moments from the games or comics you’d have liked to include here but perhaps couldn’t because of time constraints or them not fitting into the movie?

There’s so much in the comic books. We have the whole thing with the magic heroes and that side of the universe that I thought would have been fun to play with, but we packed so much in. Bless Ernie [Laughs] for the work he did on this. I can’t speak highly enough about the work he did here, but to be able to distil five years worth of stories into a feature-length film I think works really well is a big task and he did a fantastic job with it. 
 

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