'Robot Chicken' creators get grilled on their 'DC Comics Special II'
(CBR) At six seasons and counting, "Robot Chicken" has become a cultural force almost as strong as the iconic characters and properties that it makes fun of on a weekly basis. In fact, the Adult Swim series has become a sort of singular destination for roasts of beloved movies, TV shows, comic books and pop culture mythologies, producing spinoffs like its massively-popular "Star Wars" parodies and, most recently, the second installment of their foray into one particular comic book universe with the "Robot Chicken DC Comics Special II: Villains in Paradise."
The special premiered over the weekend, and will undoubtedly play again on the show's home channel, Cartoon Network. Creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, along with series executive producer and DC's Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns recently spoke with CBR News recently about the process of mounting an episode dedicated to one particular nerd universe. In addition to discussing the fun of creating a story that combines the mundane and the super heroic, the trio talked about distinguishing "Robot Chicken's" interpretation of the characters from those in other forms of media, and hinted at the possibility of future stories focused exclusively on the oddball ensemble of DC characters they deconstruct here.
CBR News: How much of a difference is there in the production of one of these specials than a regular episode of "Robot Chicken?"
Seth Green: it's in the prep of it. We don't write a single episode of "Robot" at a time; we'll write four or five at a time, and so that's just a very different process than this.
Matthew Senreich: In a sense, this is a little more streamlined, because it focuses the writers on one specific type of content, whereas you're all over the map when you're doing the regular season of "Robot Chicken." Green: Anybody can go anywhere.
Senreich: Yeah, and I think it actually helps the writers. And we actually write it here in [the DC] office, which looking around there's stuff everywhere to draw upon.
Green: There's tons of inspiration.
Senreich: If you hit a roadblock, you just walk around and you're going to see something that triggers an idea. Green: Plus, around noon those food trucks come out.
How do you start the creative process with one of these specials?
Green: No. In the first one, it evolved into being Aquaman's story.
Geoff Johns: It wasn't for the first two weeks, but we finally said "enough Aqua in sketches," because everyone kept writing them. And then it was like, let's embrace it.
Senreich: And then for the second one, we saw how well the villains played in our first special, especially Alfred Molina as Lex Luthor. That character just elevated upon seeing it, so we liked the idea of focusing on them for the second special -- what would that be like? So we went in with a mandate of, hey, let's do some kind of villain storyline. We don't know what it is, but it was in the writer's consciousness. And then we found out Lex Luthor had a daughter, and we came up with that kind of star-crossed lover storyline. Green: As soon as Geoff said she could be a teenager, we were off to the races.
Geoff, as the resident expert on the DC Universe, are there parts of its mythology that you especially do or don't want them to explore or include?
Johns: No, I just think it's open to whatever makes the best content for "Robot Chicken." It's not like we have to live in the New 52 or the new whatever; Superboy's from the mid-1990s, and he's better for that. He looks cool -- it's like, what's the funniest look for Superboy?
Senreich: And again, to Geoff's credit, he's building the "Robot Chicken DC Universe."
Johns: Let it be whatever it's going to be for the best story.
Senreich: It's creating a new version of DC, which I think works great for us.
Johns: Every medium has to be its own thing. "Arrow" has to be its own thing, and the movies have to be their own thing, and comics are their own thing.
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