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Actors Channeled Childhood Fantasies for 'Superman Unbound'

5 Apr, 2013 By: John Latchem

ANAHEIM, Calif. — For some actors, the allure of playing a superhero is too rich to pass up.

That was definitely the case for some members of the cast of Superman Unbound, the latest addition to the DC Universe line of direct-to-video animated movies.

Promoting the film March 29 at WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention Center, star Matt Bomer (“White Collar”), who voices Superman, said playing the hero was a lifelong fantasy.

“He’s someone who’s been iconic to me since I was 4 years old,” Bomer said. “The chance to get to play it in any medium was just a dream come true.”

On the other hand, Molly Quinn (“Castle”), who voices Supergirl, grew up idolizing a different DC Comics character.

“I was obsessed with Poison Ivy,” Quinn said. “I loved Supergirl, but she was never the one I pretended to be as a kid. I liked being bad. But I have to say it was such a treat discovering this new heroine because I had never thought of myself that way. I could completely relate to her and just how headstrong she was, and it was her sense of right and wrong that I connected with and that I really loved. I think Poison Ivy might have a run for her money.”

Based on the 2008 Superman: Brainiac comic book by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, Unbound focuses on Superman’s attempt to save Earth from a new menace, when Brainiac seeks to shrink Metropolis and add it to his collection of bottled cities before destroying the planet. Superman learns from Supergirl that Brainiac once visited Krypton, where he added the city of Kandor to his collection. So confronting Brainiac also gives him the opportunity to confront his own origins.

The cast also includes John Noble (“Fringe”) as Brainiac and Stana Katic (“Castle”) as Lois Lane. Supervising producer James Tucker (“Batman: The Brave and the Bold”) directed the film from a script by Bob Goodman (“Warehouse 13,” Batman: The Dark Knight Returns). Warner Home Video releases the film May 7 on Blu-ray ($24.98), DVD ($19.98), digital download and on-demand.

“I’m obviously following the lead of Geoff Johns’ story, which is a great story in the comics, but a small story, and I had to expand it and flesh it out to find the three acts and 75 minutes of movie in there,” Goodman said. “There are things that came where I had to sort of think more about the history of what’s been done before with this character.”

Goodman said his favorite part about writing the film was working with Lois Lane.

“It’s funny to say about a Superman movie, but she’s the strongest character in it,” Goodman said. “She’s the most confident, she knows what she wants and is the most self-realized individual in the movie. So it’s always a joy to write for Lois.”

Dialogue director Andrea Romano said those qualities made Katic a perfect choice for Lois.

“When you watch her in ‘Castle,’ the wonderful dynamic about that series is it’s a reversal of roles, in that she’s the police officer tough guy and Castle is a little bit more sensitive,” Romano said. “We knew Stana could carry that toughness, and yet she has a wonderful femininity about her.”

Bomer said the dynamic between Superman and Lois helped him identify how he wanted to play the character.

“In this particular version it’s a very mature Superman that we see,” Bomer said. “He’s very protective of Lois, and he’s worried that their relationship is going to endanger her. So I tried to keep some of the earlier stuff with Lois, and even some of the later stuff, kind of light and playful and charming and romantic and deal with the script as given.”

Those qualities are what made Bomer ideal for the role, according to Romano.

“We wanted a different sound for Superman, in that he’s slightly younger and there was a real vulnerability that we needed for this role,” Romano said. “Superman is a different kind of superhero in that he’s got all this ridiculous strength, but there’s also got to be a vulnerability to him. There’s got to be an emotional side that makes sense.”

Bomer said one of his biggest challenges was not the emotional context, but dealing with the constraints of the recording studio.

“You don’t have a cape and tights and you don’t get to fly on wires,” Bomer said. “The most fun I had was doing all the action sequences. I got really into it physically, and when Superman was punching Brainiac I would punch however he did, I was knocking the mics over, and I’d look at the sound booth and they’d all just be laughing at me.”

For Quinn, the challenge was defining a character that didn’t have the same kind of historic consistency as Superman.

“Everyone has such a definite idea of who Supergirl is,” Quinn said. “She’s Supergirl, and she can do anything she wants. But on top of that, she’s everything that’s good about a teenage girl and everything that’s great about a superhero. I think that’s really important for girls my age and younger to see.”

Quinn said she was particularly impressed with Summer Glau’s portrayal of the character in the 2010 DCU movie Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.

“Her interpretation of Supergirl was just phenomenal and extremely intimidating,” Quinn said. “So I really worked off that and compared my Supergirl to hers because she left such great building blocks.”

In casting Noble for Brainiac, Romano said the filmmakers were looking to put a unique spin on the character.

“Brainiac’s a tough character because he really isn’t emotional, so you really have to find some way to keep him interesting,” Romano said. “We had previously portrayed Brainiac in a somewhat robotic way, and we opted completely not to do that. And he never even considered any kind of robotic version, which was really a nice way to go.”

Romano said Noble brought just the right balance to the part.

“This role requires such a sensitive touch, and I knew he was a sensitive actor that way and there was a maturity in his voice that we needed,” Romano said.

The Blu-ray also includes an UltraViolet copy, featurettes about Kandor and Brainiac, four “Superman: The Animated Series” episodes, an excerpt from the Superman: Brainiac digital comic, and a 10-minute preview of the next DCU movie, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, which will have its world premiere at this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con International.

In addition, Tucker will be taking over supervision of the DCU films from Bruce Timm, who is taking a temporary leave of absence to work on other projects.

“I love the DC universe, and I just want to bring more of the whole world of DC and those characters, so it’s not just Superman, the Justice League and Batman,” Tucker said. “That’s what we’ve always tried to do as a group, and I think that’s what I’m going to continue to do. I’m just going at this job from the heart. I love DC comics, I always have, ever since I was a little kid, and I just want to bring them to you like you’re used to seeing them. If we can open up the range of characters so much the better.”

(L-R): Superman Unbound collaborators Matt Bomer (voice of Superman), Andrea Romano (dialogue director) and Molly Quinn (voice of Supergirl) share a moment of laughter during their 2013 WonderCon Anaheim panel to promote the film.


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