Son of Batman, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, out on Blu-ray on May 6th, is the landmark 20th entry in the ongoing series of DC Universe animated original movies. In the film, Batman (voiced by Jason O’Mara) learns that he has a son, Damian (Stuart Allen), whose mother is Talia al Ghul (Morena Baccarin), the daughter of one of Batman’s most dreaded enemies, Ra’s al Ghul (Giancarlo Esposito). Together, the two form an uneasy alliance to try to stop the criminal enterprise of Deathstroke (Thomas Gibson). Also included in the voice cast are Sean Maher, David McCallum, Xander Berkeley and Fred Tatasciore.
While at WonderCon to promote the film, actor Jason O’Mara spoke at a roundtable interview about getting to explore the father-son dynamic, being a father while being a superhero, not wanting to mess up his performance, that they’ve hinted to him that more films could be possible, why he enjoys meeting the fan base, the dynamic with Nightwing, and what his first exposure was to Batman. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
JASON O’MARA: Oh, thanks very much. It was a lot of fun. Those actors are amazing. They really raise your game.
In this story, we finally get to see Batman interacting with a character that’s actually his son. How did you like getting to explore that aspect of Bruce Wayne and Batman, now that he has an actual son who could be going down the wrong path?
O’MARA: Well, obviously, it’s a bit of a shock, at first. At least at the beginning of this movie, he’s the kind of Batman who likes to work alone. And Dick Grayson has already flown the coop, as it were. So, he’s got to get his head around how Damian Wayne came about, in the first place. And then, he has to try to figure out how to become a father and be a superhero, at the same time. He’s trying to guide him, but also protect him, which any parent will tell you is easier said than done, especially this guy. Not only is Damian wild, but he has ninja skills. He’s an extremely dangerous kid who, like Batman, has been trained by the League of Assassins. So, he’s actually a worthy adversary, as well as being his own flesh and blood. It’s a really interesting story. I think it’s refreshing to have a character-driven Batman story that isn’t just about action and getting out of scrapes. This actually compromises Batman’s character, and we have to see how he’s going to react to this kind of situation. And it’s funny, too.
After 75 years of Batman tradition, what did you want to do with your performance to make it your own?
O’MARA: I just didn’t want to mess it up, to be honest with you. It’s celebrating 75 years of Batman. We’ve had so many great actors play it so well, over the years, in film, on television, and through voice work, that I just didn’t want to completely humiliate myself. So, when I talked to Andrea Romano about how to find this Batman voice, it was really about finding something that was authentic, but also was unique to me. I didn’t want to cover ground that had already been covered, so it took awhile. It’s like writing a song. You do one version and go, “Oh, that sounds like someone else, or something else.” And then, you do another version and go, “No, I’m forcing that. I’m pushing that.” And so, you try to come across something where you can go, “Yeah, that could work.” It also has to be a voice that you’re able to produce and reproduce with your voice, fairly easily and in a healthy way that you’re not going to push. So, it’s been a really interesting process. From Justice League: War to Son of Batman, I feel like I’m starting to enjoy myself and am almost in danger of having a good time. I felt such responsibility for such an iconic character, and now I feel like, “Okay, I am he. Now, it’s time to have a little fun with it.”
When you signed on for Justice League: War, was there an expectation to continue with movies like this?
O’MARA: There was no like Marvel style sign-up for seven years of your life. It was like, “Yeah, okay, we’re going to do Justice League: War.” I expected to be replaced, honestly. Then, they were like, “Oh, we’ve got this other one, Son of Batman. We’ll send you the script.” I was like, “Oh, my god, this is better than Justice League: War.” From Batman’s point of view, there’s really, really juicy character stuff. And they’ve hinted that there might be some more coming down the pipe.
O’MARA: I can’t really talk about it. I tried to be nice and say they hinted.
Did you watch any of the previous animated Batman incarnations to get a sense of how you wanted to do this?
O’MARA: Yeah, I have. We watched several different versions. I think Kevin Conroy played him the most. We liked the live-action movies, as well. Even the so-called bad ones, we liked. We’re just Batman fans. So, we watched quite a few, and they’re all excellent, but I was trying to find something that I could call my own.
As an actor, what’s it like getting to see the fan base and get to meet them?
O’MARA: Oh, I love it. It’s really exhilarating and exciting to be able to meet your fan base and see them in person, and see the lengths that they’re willing to go to. It’s not easy to get into these screenings. You have to get in line for a long time, so you really have to mean it. You really have to want to see it, and you really have to want to hang around for the panel afterwards. So, I’m just filled with gratitude. I feel blessed that these people are actually there for us, and that I find myself in this position. It’s terrific.
Was there a difference in how you approached Batman for Son of Batman, compared to what you did for Justice League: War?
O’MARA: Yeah. Those same leadership qualities, as a father, emerge. You’re trying to help people make the right decision and encourage them to do the next right thing. So, I think his leadership qualities in Justice League come into play again, just by trying to be a father to Damian Wayne. It’s always most interesting when Batman starts out as that lone Dark Knight, and then is forced to have to interact with someone else, whether it’s Dick Grayson or Damian Wayne or anybody else, and deal with their pesky personalities.
O’MARA: Well, it’s more about having an opportunity to maybe make better decisions for this kid. In many ways, his being Batman is what has led to Damian Wayne being in existence. He has to face the part he’s had to play with it, as well. He’s put himself in harm’s way and into a situation, however manipulated by Talia [al Ghul], and he needs to own the fact that he is responsible, regardless of whether he was manipulated or not. Regardless of the situation, has to show up for this kid. And I just think that’s a cool story.
How different is the dynamic with Nightwing, who was like a son?
O’MARA: Dick Grayson is gone. He’s flown the coop. You have to assume that whatever happened there, Batman is okay with. You can still see a bit of tension there, with that. It’s not all happy days are here again when Nightwing comes back. I thought that was quite well played in the movie. He’s helpful to Damian, but there’s a little bit of, “Hey, what are you going to be, the next Robin? What’s going on here?”
What was your first exposure to Batman?
O’MARA: My first exposure was when I had Measles. I was probably about eight years old and I had the Measles, and I was in my grandparents’ house in Manchester, England. I’d get up, in between fevers, and I’d watch a little TV. They were playing the original Adam West movie, and I just thought it was cool. I thought it was the funniest, coolest thing, ever. It really stayed with me. And that must have been in ‘78 or ‘79. It was one of those things where I was like, “Why didn’t I know that this existed before now? Why did no one tell me about this? This is amazing!” So, that was where my love affair first began.
Son of Batman is available on Blu-ray on May 6th.