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Director Talks JLA Adventure: Trapped in Time


JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time is an animated feature that was kept so under wraps that very few fans knew of its existence. The release of the DVD will be exclusively at Target retail stores on January 21, 2014 and some DC fans asked why is it only available at Target? Voices from Krypton received an exclusive interview with the director, Giancarlo Volpe who addressed how the feature was made and where the story was inspired.

 

My boss, Sam Register, approached me about doing this straight to video. It was kind of a partnership with Target and they had a toyline, which a lot of these things start with, that they wanted to promote. They just wanted to do a movie that accompanied the toyline about their characters. The main thing about it was tone. If you look at something like Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox or the upcoming WAR, or, frankly, a lot of the stuff we do at WB, they’re grittier films. There are curse words and violence, so Sam said, 'We need something that’s a little more kid friendly.' My initial reaction was reluctance, because I was worried he was asking me to do a pre-school version of the Justice League. We talked about it and he said, 'That thing you do on Green Lantern, we just want that but with the Justice League.' When I finally understood it in those terms – 'I can do my storytelling sensibilities with Superman and Batman and all of them' – I was, like, 'Okay, let’s do it.'"

 

Most of the DC animated features nowadays involve darker elements of violence where the storytelling is more for an older audience. JLA Adventure is the exact opposite where adults and children will enjoy the feature. Mike Ryan (writer) and Volpe began writing the feature in late 2012, and started the animation in early 2013. Ryan looked to the 1970's animated TV show, Super Friends, as inspiration for JLA Adventures. Please be advised the quote below contains SPOILERS.

 

There was an initial concept piece that was drawn for this project before I (Volpe) was even a part of it. Two of the characters were Karate Kid and Dawnstar. If you know those characters, they’re actually not from our era. They’re Legion of Superheroes characters, which are 1,000 years in the future. So instantly we thought, 'We need some sort of reason they’d come to our timeline.' I didn’t want that to be some sort of convenient rip in the sky and they fall out of it and suddenly we go on some other adventure. I wanted the whole thing to be about time travel. So when Mike heard that, he told me about that Super Friends episode, so we borrowed from that a lot. Originally, we were also going to have Lex futz with multiple characters, but in the interest in keeping within the allotted time, we had to focus just on Superman. In our continuity, Superman was the first hero ever. If he never formed, there would be no Batman and there would be no Wonder Woman and so on. Lex kind of knows this and if he can get rid of Superman, there would never be a Justice League.

 

If there are any Super Friends fans out there, you will see subtle appearances by Wendy, Marvin, and Wonderdog. Even though the 70's show was used as inspiration, Volpe made sure to provide a certain level of sophisicated storytelling that is not watered-down. Originally, Volpe and Ryan were supposed to worked on a Justice League project that would have had a 13 episode story. When Sam Register presented JLA Adventures, the two tailored the story into a 44 minute feature filled with comedic moments and high stakes for the Justice League.

 

There are wacky moments in this movie, but then around act three the stakes get real and it seems like the world could collapse unless our heroes rally and defeat the villains. I like that kind of contrast in tone, because my opinion is if you have really funny themes that will contrast against the really sad, sentimental ones; if you have really heartfelt scenes, that will contrast against the super action violent ones. I hope this runs that gamut in that short amount of time we have to deal with.

 

The best way to describe this feature is a modernized version of Super Friends. The story is not only entertaining, but exciting to keep the audience intriqued as to how the Justice Leaguers will stop Legion of Doom. So if you enjoyed Batman: Brave and the Bold and Green Lantern: The Animated Series, then you will enjoy JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time

 

Posted by Kristina Collins

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