WonderCon 2014: Son Of Batman Panel
Friday night, WonderCon hosted the world premiere of the latest DC Universe animated movie, Son of Batman. The second film to be set in their new "animated continuity," it also marks Jason O'Mara's second time voicing the Dark Knight. And in the Q & A afterward, a fan of Kevin Conroy's admitted, "Kevin who?"
It was a moment that could have triggered swagger in an actor, but O'Mara met it with humility, honoring Conroy's long iconic run as the voice of Batman, and indicating that he himself would be honored if he gets to stay in the role for a while.
That triggered Voice Director Andrea Romano reminiscing about the development of O'Mara's Batman voice, and both smiled as they recalled its evolution. Indeed, it is a lot more assured and consistent in Son of Batman than it was in Justice League: War.
But it took a while to get to in-depth discussion. First the audience just wanted to sit and absorb how well-done Son of Batman really was.
Executive Producer James Tucker entered first, followed by director Ethan Spaulding and character designer Phil Bourassa. Everybody loves Romano, for as many audience members noted, she directed the voices of their childhoods.
Though he ended up saying very little, character actor Xander Berkeley joined the panel, as he voices Kirk Langstrom in the film. Sean Maher, brand new to voice acting, sat next to Berkeley and also had little to offer, though since he gets to voice Nightwing, fans really wanted to hear his insights.
But that was all right, because even O'Mara had to take a back seat to Stuart Allen, the boy who got to debut the role of Damien Wayne. He talked about doing research with GameStop employees, who he figured knew the comics better than he did (smart kid), and Romano nodded.
"Whatever research you did, it worked." She laughed, "you came in for your audition as Damien."
Romano also promised that after Maher, she had one cast member from Firefly left to find a role for: Jewel Staite. Morena Baccarin voices Talia in Son of Batman, and Maher did pipe up with one anecdote, as everyone kept razzing deisgner Bourassa for a scene in which Talia's cleavage was rather prominent. "Hashtag Talia's Cleavage is trending on Twitter right now," joked Spaulding.
Maher related that Baccarin's decolletage had been sunburned badly during the filming of Serenity, and every time he saw Talia in the film, that's all he could think of.
Maher's turn as Nightwing led some to wonder why Tim Drake, prominent in Grant Morrison's original story, was missing here. Reluctantly, Tucker said, "for now, Dick Grayson was Robin and that's it. It's easier that way. Normal people have to be able to understand the story, too."
"Not that we're not normal!" he corrected himself. Then leaned back in to add, "but we're not normal."
But what is normal? We're at WonderCon. When the panel gets turned over to questions from the audience, the first person on the microphone is... Batman.
And interspersed throughout the line of questioners are various Robins, unclear on which era they've come from but all clear on liking Tim Drake.
Tucker shrugged a "what can you do?" shrug, constantly reiterating that he himself loves Tim as a character; he just doesn't quite fit in what they're doing with their animated universe.
Some audience members opined the focus on Batman in the animated movies, and asked about what else might be in the hopper.
Most of these questions were met with one word answers from Tucker, before Romano stepped in to remind people that most of their questions about the future couldn't be answered because the next projects have not been announced yet.
So will there be Tim Drake? Hard to say. Will there be more to the Damien saga? Tucker played cagy, but with the current plan of one Batman movie a year set in a loose continuity, it seems pretty likely. When asked which character he'd like to see brought to the screen, Tucker didn't hesitate. "The Spectre."
The last question of the evening was a request for "The Judas Contract," which had been one of the earliest promised films. Tucker leaned into the imicrophone carefully and said, "let's just say we're very interested in the Teen Titans right now."
We can hope. But the truth is and has been that one of the reasons Warner hits hard on Batman is simply that Batman outsells every other effort they've made. And though no one on the panel could confirm it, the title "The Killing Joke" got bandied around by audience members. The best Tucker could do was smile.
And well he should, because Son of Batman should allow him to be overseeing animated DCU movies for a long, long time.