Exclusive Debut Clip of Sinestro!
First, we talked about Green Lantern's deep mythology with showrunner Giancarlo Volpe. Then we went into his past to see how his previous work on Avatar: The Last Airbender and Star Wars: The Clone Wars helped prepare him for Green Lantern: The Animated Series.
Today, we look at the romance of the series, talk about how the Red Lanterns have developed, get some teases at the future beyond "Prisoner of Sinestro," and even get to show you an exclusive clip from that episode, revealing Sinestro in a full scene for the first time.
Newsarama: Giancarlo, it sounds like even though the original choice of the Red Lanterns as the main villains was based off usage in other media, stuff like that, since then you've really embraced them. Once it was decided that they'd be the featured ones, was it difficult to figure out how to use them?
Giancarlo Volpe: I think again when Sinestro was off-limits, the Red Lanterns became the obvious choice. Indigo - especially at the time in the comics - the Indigo Tribe was much more mysterious, so we didn't really know how to play them. And Larfleeze, the Orange Lantern, is just a one man band.
Nrama: A one man band that we all desperately want to see on the show!
Volpe: Yeah, I know, and I think it's already been leaked that he'll be on the show [Newsarama note: Geoff Johns leaked that back at Comic-Con International: San Diego in July 2012]. But we didn't know that the Orange Lantern Corps would be enough to carry the season. So Red Lanterns seemed like the obvious choice once we knew it wouldn't be Sinestro.
We did have to make the conscious choice early on to make them a bit more calm, and able to hold conversation, than they are in the comics. I remember there was a lot of back-and-forth on Razer. We knew we wanted Razer to join the team, and we talked about how that would work: would he be a raving lunatic for a few episodes and they'd have to calm him down, and the more we talked about it, it was just a lot of steps to cover. So it was simpler to make them just a little more calm and collected, and focus on them being vengeance driven.
I know that a lot of fans had a lot of problems with how the Red Lanterns differ from those in the comics during those first few episode, but it seems like that's gone away! (laughs)
Nrama: What about Aya, she seems like she's had maybe the most character growth of any of the main characters. What was the origin behind her?
Volpe: Well originally when I was being hired for the job, there was this promo poster that Bruce Timm had drawn. Razer looked a lot older, and Aya was just referred to as "the robot," and they, at my job interview, mentioned "maybe Razer will have a thing for the Robot."
(laughs) And I loved that! You know I mentioned before that I like having romance in there. I had mentioned that one of my favorite couples at Marvel was Scarlet Witch and the Vision, and it was okay that a human fell in love with a robot, it wasn't really questioned that much. So we thought that wasn't a bad avenue to explore.
So once we committed to having this girl robot on the show that would eventually fall for Razer, it became "how will we roll out her character?"
It was Jim's idea that she be the navcom for the ship. So then we thought we'd really take our time with it, and she didn't even need a body at first. So we didn't introduce her body until the fourth episode. I remember too she didn't even leave the ship until episode five when she sneaks out. And you don't see her fight until episode 9, I think. So it was really fun to step out her progress.
That's one of the things you can do with original characters more than you can get away with established ones. If you were watching Hal really struggle to use his ring, the fans might get frustrated that he seems so behind the curve versus how he is in the comics. But if you see Aya not sure how to use her abilities, it's somehow endearing. That's the difference between original characters and established ones.
Nrama: And that answers another question of why you'd start Hal kind of in the middle of his journey, and that makes sense.
Volpe: Yeah, obviously, we could've gone that route and started all the way over with an origin again. Bruce was actually the one who fought that right away. It had already been covered not only in the movie version with Ryan Reynolds but also in the DTV Green Lantern: First Flight. It didn't seem like the audience needed an origin again.
I think it was a good call, because it allowed us to just hit the ground running a lot sooner, seeing him off on adventures instead of finding himself.
Nrama: Let's talk a little about the team you've assembled here. Obviously, part of your role as Producer, as Showrunner is to bring a team together. It seems like everyone on this show from writers to directors to voice talent have resumés about two miles long!
Volpe: (laughs) Oh, yeah!
Nrama: What can you tell me about the process of bringing them all together, and maybe who you started with first. Was there anyone that was your all-star, your first pick on the playground?
Volpe: You'd be surprised how that works. When we started staffing, I had my wish list, but unfortunately, everyone is usually working on something already. Like I would have loved to have Joaquin Dos Santos work on it, but he was already working on Korra and I couldn't even ask him to do it.
I remember when we first started staffing, I was a little worried about "how are we gonna do this?" But fortunately, how things are run here at Warner Brothers by our VP Bobbie Page, she's really good at putting talent where it's needed. She looks at every artist as part of this big talent pool, and whenever a new show starts, she'll throw the right bodies at it to get it going.
So I was very lucky that as the show was starting up, a couple of DTVs were just wrapping up, and Batman the Brave and the Bold was finishing, I got to get a couple guys off of that, I basically had all these really tried and tested veterans that were assigned to the show. You'd be surprised how few of them I knew prior to working at Warner Brothers.
But it's been great. I really think that some of the best storyboard artists in the business are at this studio. When you do nothing but action for years, you get really good. I was really fortunate to get guys like Sam Liu, Rick Morales, etcetera etcetera!
Nrama: How much do you interact directly with the voice cast?
Volpe: Oh, very much! I'm in every record session, every ADR session. I've come to become friends with those guys. It's a blast! They obviously bring yet another facet to the characters that's very important.
It's hard to imagine this now, but back in the days before we had voice cast the characters, it was a little harder to figure out how the characters would say things or how they would react to given situations. But once you get the character designed and you can hear their voices, it becomes so much clearer what they would do.
We kind of wanted a "Ben Grimm" effect for Kilowog, and Kevin Michael Richardson did that so well. We just fell in love with that character instantly. That's one example of many!
Nrama: Yeah, you didn't manage to get any other voice acting heavyweights at all, like Grey DeLisle, Jennifer Hale. Even Josh Keaton who's sort of an up-and-comer, if you can still call him that when he's voiced two of the most major comic book characters of all time.
Volpe: Yeah, good for him, too! I would imagine back then if you would've said "hey the voice of Spider-Man will be Hal Jordan," people might have gotten upset at that. In my mind, anyway, Peter Parker and Hal Jordan are polar opposites. But that's just a credit to how versatile Josh is.
They're just so good. A lot of the casting on the show were names that Bruce Timm brought up because of his experience. He's done a lot more voice directing than I have. So he'd just say "oh, bring this guy in and he'll knock it out of the park." It was just really cool to see how competent, capable, and versatile those people are. I really think we got some of the best in the business on this show, and I see why their résumés are so long and why they get hired for everything: they're just that good!
Nrama: Do you ever get to do group recording sessions like they do for Clone Wars? Or is it more isolated?
Volpe: Yeah, we record everything as an ensemble when possible. There are a couple of exceptions where scheduling-wise something doesn't work out and we have to bring them in separately.
To me it's always better to record together. If you hear one guy, if they can react to the other one - I think one of the acting mottos is that acting is reacting - it's hard to react if you don't hear the other person, how they're delivering the line.
There'll be a couple of retakes on some episodes where the characters weren't in the room at the same time and one guy is shouting and the other responds very calm - it didn't match! That's the problem with recording separately, so it's always nice to do it together.
Nrama: When you were approaching the series, how much of your focus was on making a show for Green Lantern fans, and how much of it was on making a show to introduce people to Green Lantern?
Volpe: It's - I was going to say 50/50, but it's almost more important to introduce than to honor the fans. I know that's a tricky thing for me to say, but you have to go into these things assuming the viewer doesn't know much - especially with our target demographic.
There are a lot of guys who are probably college age or college graduates that grew up on Justice League [the Timmverse series], and there are guys my age that grew up on Superfriends. But the average six year old may not know much about Green Lantern at all outside of maybe the movie. So we couldn't assume that anyone knew anything. I remember being a particular stickler about that.
I never wanted Sinestro to walk in the room and have everyone go "Ooo the dreaded Sinestro!" They wouldn't know, if he hasn't become a bad guy yet! So we do this thing in our show where Hal really loves Sinestro. He's just like, "that dude rocks!" [As you can see in our exclusive clip directly above this answer! - Lucas] He really admires him! So, the hardcore fans who've been reading this stuff will get the trouble, the potential danger of Hal Jordan idolizing Sinestro. But the young fans will hopefully think "well if Hal Jordan likes Sinestro, then I do too!" And potentially, if one day things go awry with Sinestro, the new fans will go "I didn't see that coming!" and the hardcore fans will go "Yup, knew that was going to happen!"
It seems like if you introduce or tell the stories from that angle of let me introduce the characters for the first time, it tends to satiate both causes.
Nrama: So, beyond "Prisoner of Sinestro" that we know a little bit about now, what can you tease for us about the rest of the season?
Volpe: That's a good question, I'm trying to think about what's safe to say. Larfleeze has been confirmed. We'll see the return of a lot of characters. Carol will be back... as a Star Sapphire!
Anti-Monitor is running amok. There's been a lot of talk, I've seen people say "are we trying to do Crisis on Infinite Earths" but no, we're not trying to do that. That would probably be too huge for our budget to be honest, even if we wanted to do that. But the fact that Anti-Monitor has the ability to wipe out entire universes; we tried to make that apparent in the "Steam Lantern" episode. Our universe is very much in danger right now because of that, so don't take anything lightly, there's a lot at stake this season.
Nrama: Well I'm sure people are very excited that that's coming and that new episodes are back. But I bet people will miss your special "twitter episodes" you've been posting in the break! Will you ever do something like that again?
Volpe: You know, I think I should hold off right now because I don't want to steal thunder from the actual show. (laughs) The main thing I was trying to do was keep momentum going during the break. I wanted people to feel like they could have something they could check in on while waiting for new episodes to air.
it was fun for me, too, because I wanted to write more about those characters. And the central thing for me was "this isn't canon." So I could do sillier things I could never do on the show, and the more I did that the better. Now that the show is on the air, I tried live-tweeting the "Steam Lantern" one, that was kind of fun. But I don't want people paying attention to twitter when they're supposed to be watching the show!
I think I'm more excited now that people are actually watching the stuff we spent months on instead of something I whipped up in a few minutes just to make the fans laugh.
Nrama: So we shouldn't hold our breath for those to become future episodes, or radio plays?
Volpe: (laughs) Probably not! But I do love it when the fans record the fake episodes and post them online. That's just hilarious. There've even been some crew participation as well. It was really fun.
Nrama: Very cool! If there's one upcoming moment or character that you just can't wait for fans to see, what would it be?
Volpe: Hmm... Zilius Zox in his underwear. (laughs). I'll just leave it at that!