2001 TV News Archives

Animated Justice League

August 4, 2001: Animated Injustice Gang Information

Comics2Film reporter Xum Yukinori continued his extensive coverage of the Justice League presentation from the recent Comic-Con in San Diego, with some information on the Injustice Gang.

Much of the slide show presentation was devoted to an upcoming episode that will feature the Injustice Gang, which is formed by Lex Luthor. "Once you start doing the show with the JLA," Producer Bruce Timm began, "there are just certain givens that you have to do." The Injustice Gang is obviously one of them.

Timm described the concept of the Injustice Gang as "cool but kinda uncool."

"They are kinda corny," Timm explained, "and we tried not to lighten the corniness of it. This is the one show where literally all of the super-villains team up and fight all of the super-guys. It's a really fun episode, and the story is actually a really good story."

Members of the Injustice Gang include:

The Cheetah: Not much was said about this charcter, but her design reflects the current comic book feral, were-cat appearance.

Ultra Humanite: Timm stated that producer James Tucker specifically requested to have the Ultra Humanite in this episode. Tucker, a self-confessed "DC geek" who traded X-Men #99 for an issue of Superman Family, commented, "I really love DC and any chance I get to use a really weird looking villain, I'm gonna fight for it."

Ultra Humanite has a long history that goes back to the Golden Age of Superman comics. "He's a mad genius who just sticks his brain anywhere he wants to," Tucker explained. "He was a woman, he stuck his head in an ape. You gotta love it. And I really love drawing big goofy apes with giant brains." Tucker cited that Timm actually enlarged the head in the Ultra Humanite design. "Chicks dig big brain." Timm added.

The Ultra Humanite is voiced by Ian Buchanan (Dr. Cuvier in the Batman Beyond episode "Splicers"). Personality-wise, Tucker describes the Ultra Humanite as "Kelsey Grammer in a gorilla suit." Timm added that the Humanite is essentially a "suave, quiet villain with this big gorilla body."

"He's very urbane," Tucker agreed.

Copperhead: Said Timm: "He's one of those weird secondary DC villains who James Tucker just loves."

Tucker chimes in, "I lo-o-o-o-o-ve Copperhead."

Timm quips back, "And that's pretty much it. (audience laughs) Next?"

The Shade: Like in the comics, the Shade controls darkness, which is emitted from his walking cane. Timm stated that The Shade will be portrayed as a "creepy character." Tucker mentioned how easily the character could be imagined as a Goth, which inspired the Shade's animated design.

Star Sapphire: "One of the interesting things about (the Injustice Gang) episode is that, although we have eight super-villains, it's really Luthor's story more than anything else," Timm said. "We really don't have time to go into the origin stories as much as we would normally do. So we don't really explain anything about Star Sapphire. (In the episode) she's just this gal who has this special power."

Timm did mention that there is a developed backstory to this character, which reflects her history in the Green Lantern comics. "She's actually Carol Ferris, who was Hal Jordan's boss, and she has this psychotic breakdown and (develops) a secondary personality." Producer Rich Fogel added that Ferris is the epitome of "the woman scorned."

Olivia D'Abo will portray Sapphire. "We just love her English accent and she's never had a chance to use it," Timm said, referring to the time when she was the voice of Ten in Batman Beyond. "So (Sapphire's) secondary personality will have an English accent. It just sounds nice."

Solomon Grundy: Timm mentioned that the producers wanted to use this character on the Superman show, but they just never got around to it. "I love Grundy," Timm said with glee. Like Sapphire and the other villains, "we don't really explain what he is, he's just this big hulking... critter. We all know his backstory but we don't really get into it."

Grundy is actually played by Mark Hammil. Timm explained that Hamill, who is playing the Joker in the same episode, was asked to try a voice for Grundy, "and he sounded great."

The Joker: "He's still alive, despite what we did to him in the Return of the Joker," Timm exclaimed. "So this (episode) obviously pre-dates that." Timm affirmed that we can expect the Joker to act the same as in the previous Batman series. "He's the Joker. Say no more."

Lex Luthor: Timm stated that Luthor will be portrayed differently than he was in the Superman series. "We thought we've done enough stories with Luthor being the corporate tycoon, and that was fine in the 90's," Timm said. "We (used the concept) again in Batman Beyond with Derek Powers, so we needed to have a new take on Luthor."

This "new take" reflected Tucker's notion of being true to the wild DC Comics roots. "You either love it or you don't," Timm said. "We kinda love it." So the show will bring Luthor back to the basic "mad scientist/super-villain Luthor" he was in the Silver Age of DC Comics. "In fact, he wears the 'Super Powers'-era power suit, slightly modified," Timm said, adding that there is a reason in the story as to why he has to wear the suit.

Another slide revealed that Luthor will also appear in a modified version of his classic purple-and-green outfit (which actually induced a lot of applause from the audience). And the Luthor fashion ensemble doesn't stop there. "There's even a part in the story where he's in prison and will be wearing the old Curt Swan prison garb," Timm exclaimed.

Despite the "new" character concept, Luthor will still be voiced by Clancy Brown.

Although the producers have a love for some of the classic Justice League villains from the 60s, they admitted that a lot of them were just a little bit too silly for a modern audience. "Every villain had an 'O' at the end of their names," Timm explained. "Amazo, Eclipso, Despero, Starro, Kanjar Ro..."

However, the producers managed to find a plausible way to use such classic-yet-silly villains in the new show. "Whenever we have a story where the main Justice League villain needs a hench-villain -- the odd-job type -- we will try to pick out another character of the DC Universe, especially from the JLA comics, to fill in that part so we can integrate him into the show."

The first of these villains will be Kanjar Ro, who appears as a henchman in the Green Lantern/Manhunters episode. "We kinda liked (Kanjar Ro), but he was this goofy bug-faced guy," Timm said, "and he's not really an incredible threat to these gods (referring to the League). So we gave him this interesting secondary villain role."

Read the complete reports by Xum Yukinori at the Comics2Film website.

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