The Cast and Crew of Injustice Break Down the Superfriends Civil War

Comic News

The Justice League has defeated many powerful foes over the years, but what happens when they’re forced to fight one another? Injustice tells the story of a civil war that tears the superhero community apart, as Superman tries to end evil once and for all and Batman tries to rein his lost friend in. Based on the hit video game franchise and comic book series, Injustice is now an animated film that asks tough questions about the heroes who protect us.

“I was asked about my interest in Injustice a few years back,” shares director Rick Morales. “I was familiar with the video games, I owned them and I played them, but I wasn’t as familiar with the comic book. I read the first fifteen or sixteen issues on a plane and I got sucked into them.”

Screenwriter Ernie Altbacker had his eye on the project for years. “I was reading graphic novels and I found one I had never heard of,” he recalls. “There was this image of Superman punching through the Joker’s heart, which I thought he has deserved for years and years. I asked producer Jim Krieg, ‘Are we doing this?’ He said there was no plans, but two years later he called me up and asked me if I wanted to do it.”

For the film’s many voice actors, Injustice gave them a chance to play in their favorite sandbox.

“I’m a big nerd and I’m crazy for this stuff,” says voice acting veteran Yuri Lowenthal, who plays Mirror Master, the Flash, Shazam and a few other surprises. “Getting to play any one of these iconic characters I grew up with is a treat, but getting to play multiple ones inside the same project is a party.”

For Derek Phillips, voicing Nightwing brought his career full circle. “As a teenager, I was a big fan of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, and I would draw Carrie Kelley all over my notebook,” he says. “I wanted to be Robin so badly. When I was fourteen or fifteen years old, I actually auditioned for Robin in Batman Forever. Now almost thirty years later I finally got to play Dick Grayson.”

Phillips is also credited as Aquaman and he took extra care in finding the sea king’s motivation. “The word that kept popping up was regal,” he says. “Decisions that Nightwing makes affect Nightwing, but decisions that Aquaman makes affect Atlantis. This is a man who projects in a stately manner.”

“I was blessed to get this call,” enthuses Brian T. Delaney, who plays Green Lantern. “I was excited to be a part of this. I knew of the video game, however I did not know the plot, so when I read the first act of the script, it blew me away. Being a part of the Justice League was pretty rad. I not only got to voice Hal Jordan, but also little ancillary things. One of the most interesting and fun parts of my participation in this film was doing the scene where Superman arrives at the party. I got to do a pass of screams when Superman goes on the rampage in there.”

With multiple video games and numerous comic book storylines, Injustice has no shortage of source material. Translating the saga into a single animated movie was a tough mission, but one the team was prepared for.

“I haven’t played the game, but I did watch all the cutscenes and I read the foot and a half of graphic novels,” shares Altbacker. “We distilled it down and figured out what was the most important for a beginning, middle and end. Everybody had their favorites, and everyone had stuff they were making the case for. But we got it down to the Batman and Superman storyline being the most important.”

“There were certain key moments that had to be there,” recalls Morales. “Ernie did a great job of combing through five years of storytelling and distilling it down into one satisfying story. It was a challenge but I think he did a great job with it,” Morales recalled.

The Injustice saga can almost be seen as Superfriends meets Game of Thrones. All your favorite heroes are here, but anyone can die.

“I was not surprised that we got to play in that world, but I was surprised at how brutal it gets,” admits Lowenthal. “There’s Cyborg getting his mask ripped off, and you just see the blood on his mask—it’s pretty horrible. Superman just coring people’s skulls with his heat vision was pretty brutal.”

“I remember reading about Injustice and thinking this is not your mom’s DC,” Phillips adds. “It was exciting to me.”

Injustice, like the comics before it, features plenty of shocking deaths. It’s one of the things the book is known for, after all. Still, it’s still surprising seeing beloved, long-lived characters dying onscreen…often at the hands of their friends and former allies. One of the movie’s most shocking deaths is—SPOILER ALERT—when Robin accidentally kills Nightwing, leading to one of the biggest turning points in Batman’s war against Superman.

“The toughest for us was Nightwing’s death,” Morales reveals. “We wanted to make sure it played. It was heart-wrenching, and the idea of Batman falling to his knees and sobbing wasn’t something I was used to. But I thought it was a powerful moment.”

“Nightwing is the moral center,” Phillips muses. “He has the ability to go between these guys. He and Superman are still cool. He’s almost like Sweden. Maybe if he had survived, things wouldn’t have escalated.”

Of course, when it comes to the DC Universe, death isn’t always the end of the story. Nightwing’s journey continues into the afterlife as he becomes Deathwing and helps his brother Damian lower the temperature on the conflict.

“His love for Damian is why he came back,” says Phillips. “He returned strictly to help him. This is the thing he needs to do. He could do anything in the afterlife, but he chooses to help Damian. We’re not done training yet.”

The theme of loss echoes throughout the movie, and Altbacker notes that it sends each character on a unique path. “There is a parallel between Superman and Harley Quinn,” he shares. “Both of them lose the loves of their lives, and they react in the exact opposite way. One becomes a hero, and the other goes down a darker path.” Altbacker said.

Fans of the Injustice series should have an idea of what to expect with Harley. “I think Harley Quinn has a fun arc,” shares Morales. “Even when she’s trying to help, she still does the worst things ever. Her journey was pretty fun for me, especially her interactions with Green Arrow.”

But the most shocking story—both in the Injustice film and the game and comics that preceded it—is undoubtedly Superman’s. The DC Universe’s champion of truth, justice and faith in humankind descent into fascism is absolutely chilling and required care and nuance.

“Superman is a favorite character of mine, and I know what he ends up as in this universe, so I wanted to be very careful about how we got there,” shares Morales. “We had to make sure his motivations seemed plausible and in character for him. He still thinks he’s being true to himself. He’s still the good guy. He wants to make sure people are safe. He wants to save as many people as he can. He’s doing all these horrible things for the right reasons.”

So when exactly does Superman reach the point of no return in the animated Injustice? If you ask the movie’s cast and crew, you get a wide range of thoughts and opinions.

“When Diana voices that she thinks he’s doing the wrong thing,” says Lowenthal. “I think he felt she was his last comrade who was worth a damn, and for her to turn against him was the point of no return for him.”

“When he shows up at that club, at the point he was regulating speech,” opines Phillips. “We can almost side with him before, but once he slaughters those people, he definitely crossed a line.”

Delaney recalled his scene as Hal Jordan, where he tries to get through to Superman one last time. “It’s that last plea from Hal when he’s been de-ringed,” he says. “Superman is about to fly off and continue on his warpath, and Hal pleads with him not to do something he’ll regret for the rest of his life. That’s the line that encapsulates my arc as Green Lantern. But an argument can be made that the point of no return was the Joker murder. That moment led him down the path.”

“Killing the Joker Kids is the point of no return,” Morales states authoritatively. “But I think it’s debatable. Any other moment you pick as Superman’s point of no return is sort of valid. I just wanted to make sure throughout this journey with him that what he is doing makes sense. When he addresses the United Nations, there is a beat afterwards, but they’re not horrified—they applaud.”

Injustice is now available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray and Digital wherever movies are sold.

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