There's a brand new LEGO Batman game coming out this fall and we had the chance to attend roundtable interviews with the game director and several of the voice actors. As pointed out right in the title ("Beyond Gotham"), this one aims to take players out of the Dark Knight's city and let them explore several iconic places across the massive DC universe. There's over 150 playable characters (that'll offer just a wee bit of replay value, right?) and we were lucky enough to talk with the group about the popular characters and why fans should consider checking out the new game. The interviews include Troy Baker (Batman), Travis Willingham (Superman), Laura Bailey (Wonder Woman), Josh Keaton (Green Lantern), Arthur Parsons (game director), Dee Bradley Baker (Brainiac), and Scott Porter (Aquaman).
On their characters
TROY BAKER: (deeper voice) I'm Batman! I'm Batman! B-A-T-M-A-N!
The Joker is dark, it's heavy, it's weighty. I walk away going "I just need to spend some time with puppies, some sunshine and some rainbows!" But with this, I really just get to just sit back because Travis Willingham, his Superman throws me every time. Josh Keaton's hilarious. Scott Porter -- forget about it! Dee Bradley... we've got a cast of people whose comedic timing is off the charts and all I have to do is kind of sit there and be the Dean Martin and everybody else is the Jerry Lewis! Everyone else is making all of the great jokes! It's actually kind of a welcome break for me because I'm use to doing such stark stuff and this is the one comedic stretch that we get to do.
TRAVIS WILLINGHAM: After you finish geeking out initially and playing the John Williams Superman score on the top volume and drive around, you then remember that it's a LEGO franchise. There's humor, there's great comedy and you just try to find the things that are good and loved about Superman and just accentuate that to the obnoxious and absurd level and that's where you end up!
You've got the sour and dour Batman so I think the great contrast is Superman being upbeat and super helpful and my "hair is amazing even though we're in zero gravity!" I think just sticking with that and going with what you know and it's so much fun.
SCOTT PORTER: I am a big huge fan of the games and the books and this is a way for me to play a superhero. I've come close doing it in movies a couple of times -- really dangerously close and heartbreakingly close, actually! When I got the call to come in and play Aquaman, I was ecstatic! He's a character I love. I feel like Geoff Johns' run kind of reestablished him. I love the core and the depth of character that Aquaman has. He's kind of like a King Arthur kind of character who's also a superhero. To come in and be able to play a silly version of him was just a blast for me. He's very regal, accidentally pompous, and the LEGO games are big. There's a tone to these games and they know what they are and I haven't had more fun working on a game yet.
LAURA BAILEY: I really love that Wonder Woman is such a strong female character and such a strong role model. There's so many characters in the comic book world that present a feminine hero but she's also incredibly sexual or something like that. Wonder Woman is just power and it shows that you can be that. You don't have to justify your strengths -- you can just be strong.
JOSH KEATON: The core of the character is the same, but this is LEGO. Everything is higher energy, everything is heightened. I know that the tone of Green Lantern: The Animated Series was a lot more serious and that really doesn't have a place in this world. This is much more fun, this is all-ages, so it's basically Hal Jordan but a lot more pumped up and a lot more fun.
DEE BRADLEY BAKER: Brainiac is an absolute blast. I don't think I've done something so over the top in a very long time and when you really get a chance to play a villain that is just this crazy, it's really very smart and genuinely kind of hip and funny.
On the game
ARTHUR PARSONS: We're going into space. We're going big with LEGO Batman characters -- over 150 characters. So,for the LEGO Batman franchise, that's not been done. We've never gone this far into the DC character roster as we have here. We're also going big in terms of extra content. Like the '60s stuff. We've never been able to do that before. Suit changes are gone, so we're now changing suits on the fly. So Batman's got 8 suits and they're all upgradable. Batman's got a space suit that lets him fly around. These things are all a big iteration. As well as that, LEGO Batman 2 had the Justice League coming in at the end of the story. This time around, right at the start, Justice League almost straight away. It's going a bigger scale.
I think just in terms of line count, we've got like, 4 times what we previously had. And a lot of that is kind of quirky humor stuff. So yeah, it's pretty cool!
TB: What I love about this is that the LEGO universe is -- no matter if it's Batman or if it's anything in DC or if it's Lord of the Rings -- it owns the fact that its a parody, so we have free rein to pull from '66, to pull from '89, to pull from the comic books, to pull from all these different things and payoff all these jokes. A little audience is going to get each thing and go, "Ah! I know what that's from!" That's pretty cool. We don't have to worry about "Well, he doesn't sound too much like..." We're like, dude, we're doing a parody. I can sound like Christian Bale, I can sound like Kevin Conroy, I can sound like Adam West or I can sound like Michael Keaton.
LB: It's great because the LEGO universe is so over the top and so funny. We get to play these characters that have been visited so many times before but play them in a totally different way. So we can still pay tribute to the people we loved in the roles before and put our own spice on it.
DBB: This game is one that everyone can play. It's smart and it's very funny. It has Adam West and it engages intelligence and creativity. And you've got superhero battles in it, as well. It kind of pushes a lot of really fantastic buttons that anybody of any age should really enjoy.
On favorite stories with their characters
TW: Death of Superman changed my entire world in the '90s along with the emergence of the 4 supermen afterwards. That was a big deal for me. I've been keeping track of how the characters are doing after The New 52 and the little that romance that blossomed between Wonder Woman and Superman. We try and keep tabs on those things.
JK: Most of what I learned about the whole mythos came from Geoff Johns. I have to say I really liked Secret Origin and Rebirth. I'd say those are my two favorite arcs because they kind of really wrap up Hal Jordan. If you really want to know what he's all about, just read that and you'll get a good idea of where he's coming from.
On who else they'd like to voice from the DC Universe
TB: Dude! I'm voicing Joker and Batman!
CV: (laughs) You're doing such a great job with both roles, but let's say the door is open and you could pick anyone you want!
TW: Man, that's tough. If the Eradicator ever comes out of the Superman world, I would love to play that. A dark version of the Kryptonian -- I would like to play that.
DBB: For me, my favorites on that would have to be Batman and the Joker. There's a wide range of really classic, top-tier voice actors -- Mark Hamill, John DiMaggio, Kevin Michael Richardson, and others -- who have voiced the Joker and it's just kind of this cherry classic thing that everybody would love to take a swing at. Maybe this will be as close as I ever get to that, but I'll take it because it's really fun! You'll see when you play it... it's just nutsy fun!
On the reveal of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's Wonder Woman costume
LB: Oh my gosh, she looks amazing! It looks gritty, I like that.
TW: Oh, man! Love the tiara, the breastplate, rockin' the sword.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham goes on sale this Fall.