Based on the Geoff Johns/Gary Frank 2008 DC Comics release “Superman: Brainiac,” Superman: Unbound is the latest DC universe animated original movie from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The story is about a destructive force that is devastating planets across the galaxy, with Earth next in its sights, and even Superman may not be capable of halting the destruction alone. The film features the voices of Matt Bomer (White Collar) as Superman, John Noble (Fringe) as Brainiac, Molly Quinn (Castle) as Supergirl, and Stana Katic (Castle) as Lois Lane. For more on the movie, here’s Dave’s review and our WonderCon panel recap.
While at WonderCon, actor Matt Bomer, who is quite obviously a longtime Superman fan, spoke at a roundtable interview about the first time he imagined himself as a superhero, what he wanted to bring to the iconic role, who he thinks this film will appeal to, why Superman is still relevant after all these years, and how he’d also love the chance to play Nightwing. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
MATT BOMER: I think I was five or six. My mom made me a homemade cape for Halloween, one year. First, I was a Superboy to my brother’s Superman ‘cause whatever superhero he was, I was either the lesser version of it or the sidekick. So, when he was Batman, I was Robin. When he was Superman, I was Superboy. But, like any four-year-old, it played very heavily into my psychology. And I think that’s what makes the character resonate for so long, with so many people. He’s who we hope we could be, in the most dire of circumstances. But, my mom made me a homemade cape, and I wore that thing out for two years. I didn’t even care. I had no shame about it. I would strap it on. It had a snap. I’d get on my bike and just let it trail behind me. People would laugh. I didn’t give a damn. I was Superman! Now, I’m the voice of Superman.
How did you wrap your head around this role? What did you want to carry over from other interpretations, and how did you want to make it your own thing?
BOMER: That’s a good question. The character is so iconic to everyone, and not just guys. I think every guy and girl would love to get to play Superman, at some point in their life. Am I right, girls? You can’t help but have all those incarnations, especially if you’re a fan of the character, in the back of your head. But, you can become so busy with that, that it distracts you from the story at hand. All you really have to work with is the script that you’re given, and you don’t want to get too sidetracked on, “Oh, but in 1937, he was more like this.” You just have that story. So, I tried to keep up some of the consistencies of the characters that are maintained throughout every incarnation of the story, and then just deal with the script that we were given. In this particular story, it’s a very mature Superman that we’re seeing. He’s always dealing with weighty issues, but he’s very paternal towards Supergirl, he’s very protective of Lois and he’s also having to deal with Braniac, who is a very intense adversary. So, I tried to balance the heavier, more mature version of him with a lighter, fun, more charming sense of playfulness with Lois, in our scenes.
If you had to talk to your fans of your on-camera work, who have never seen an animated feature, what would you say to them to convince them to give this a shot?
BOMER: Well, I think anybody who likes Superman will love the story. The creative team behind it is fantastic. I think it’s a great, new take, in some ways, on the character and the story, and I think it will appeal to a lot of different audiences. So, there’s no reason not to give it a shot, really. If you don’t like Superman, something’s wrong with you!
BOMER: Yeah. First, it was the comic. I remember, distinctly, a puzzle that I had, that my mom had gotten me, where he was battling a gorilla, that I still have. Nerd! And then, the first film version, obviously, was the first Christopher Reeve film. And then, I followed it through that whole franchise.
Visually, there’s always the glasses for Clark Kent to differentiate him from Superman. But here, all you have is your voice.
BOMER: All you have is your voice. It’s pretty naked and cold in there, baby.
Did you have that moment where you were like, “I’ve got to change my pitch a little bit”?
BOMER: Yeah, totally. Yes, is the short answer to that, and the truthful answer. The good part of it is that you get to show up to work in your pajamas, if you want, and a lot of this more external aspects of filmmaking, you get to toss by the wayside. But, the more challenging part is that all you have to convey character and emotion is your voice. We recorded it first, and then they animated it. And then, we went back and changed lines and fine-tuned things. So, it was interesting to see. You record something ahead of time, and then it ends up that that was actually a close-up, so screaming it wasn’t so great, so we’d have to change it. But, (dialogue director) Andrea [Romano] is such a legend. She was such an integral part of my childhood. If you IMDB her, you’ll know what I’m saying. So, it was very challenging in terms of that, and I wanted to take it very seriously because I knew that this was a character that people had so many preconceived notions about. I relied pretty heavily on her to shepherd me through it. And I got really into it, in the fight scenes. I didn’t realize that you didn’t really have to throw punches and kicks, so they laughed at me. They got a couple good laughs at me, in the sound booth, but I wanted to bring my best to it.
Did you find that being physical helped affect your voice?
BOMER: In some ways, yeah, especially in the fight scenes. But, what I realized is that you still really have to use every part of yourself, and be even more expressive with your voice. There were times when I had to give more than usual, and there were times where I had to give less. I was cutting my teeth on something new, so I was just learning on the fly.
BOMER: Well, he’s the first superhero. He represents what we all hope we could be, in the most difficult circumstances. He represents our best self and the best version of us. Outside of, as a kid, just wanting to be able to fly and run faster than a speeding locomotive and being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, we’d like to hope that, when push comes to shove, we can do the right thing. I think as long as there is that hope in our society and in the zeitgeist of superheroes, Superman will be relevant.
So now that you finally gotten to play Superman, is there any other character that you would like to play? I think you’d make an excellent Nightwing.
BOMER: That’s what I was going to say! You took the words right out of my mouth. I’m just putting it out there. You heard it here first.
Do you keep up with all the comic books now?
BOMER: I try. My life’s pretty busy these days. I’m more of a graphic novel guy, but I try when I can.
Superman: Unbound will be released on Blu-ray, DVD, OnDemand and for download on May 7th.