Saturday, March 10, 2012
Geoff Johns & Mike Carlin on Martian Manhunter in Justice League: Doom (2012)
In an unusual move, the Blu-Ray exclusive commentary track for the animated film Justice League: Doom features DC Comics bigwigs Geoff Johns and Mike Carlin instead of members of the cartoon creative team. It comes as little surprise that Cyborg's inclusion in a movie adaptation that leaves out major characters from the source material like Plastic Man and Aquaman was motivated by DC's long term internal plans to elevate Victor Stone. On the other hand, Johns and Carlin have a fair amount more to say about our own J'Onn J'Onzz, including thoughts on past and future solo series. Here are some transcribed excerpts...
Geoff Johns: "Martian Manhunter gets really messed up in this whole movie, doesn't he?"
Mike Carlin: "Yep, they're really kind of mean to him... But he can take it. What I like about him in this movie is they actually make him really cool, uh, and very different than Superman. In the comics a lot he's kind of like Superman but he can be invisible. Uh, so he's got one more power than Superman. But here he's..."
Geoff Johns: "He's very alien, and one of the great things, I think, about this animated feature compared to some of the others of the Justice League is that we get a really great glimpse at their personal lives... And even Martian Manhunter's, who you don't really... see often..."
Mike Carlin: "You don't know a lot about him."
Geoff Johns: "We were actually talking to Dwayne (McDuffie) about writing a Martian Manhunter comic book before he passed away."
Mike Carlin: "Oh, that would've been cool."
Geoff Johns: "Yeah."
Mike Carlin: "I did not know that... You can always learn something on these commentaries."
On Ma'alefa'ak and the new Legion of Doom:
Geoff Johns: "I thought this was an interesting group..."
Mike Carlin: "...Not the usual Legion of Doom... It's got a lot of the newer takes on characters, which is great."
Geoff Johns: "...This character right here (Malefic)"
Mike Carlin: "First time in a cartoon."
Geoff Johns: "Created by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake for the Martian Manhunter series, I believe."
Geoff Johns: "Mallah-fah-ack!"
Mike Carlin: "I like they figured out the pronunciation of that for us."
They continue in a scene where Ma'alefa'ak poisons John Jones in a bar while in the form of an attractive blond woman...
Geoff Johns: "I think it shows the... psychological profile of this villain here... this is how they decide to get at John... So there's obviously some kind of hatred and love... battling there."
Mike Carlin: "The last two survivors of the Martian community."
On John Jones:
Mike Carlin: "Oh, this is really interesting."
Geoff Johns: "We had talked about, uh, Martian Manhunter. Detective, uh... John Jones... and uh, the really cool... seeing a scene with him."
Mike Carlin: "Yeah, you don't see the private life of Martian Manhunter... at all in Justice League comics."
Geoff Johns: "And it's very different from Clark Kent or anyone else because..."
Mike Carlin: "Yeah, he's not the rich guy."
Geoff Johns: "Well he's just... he's alien. You can see it..."
Mike Carlin: "He doesn't know how to act with people."
Geoff Johns: "Yeah, it's just a brilliant take. Like... I'm not sure that the books have ever really captured on that, because even in the short lived little series he had in the nineties..."
Mike Carlin: "Ostrander had a cool take on the Manhunter, but it also kept him from becoming completely human like Superman has. Uh, Superman has really integrated himself as a human in human society. And Martian Manhunter had not just one secret identity but thousands all around the world. Which is a cool idea, but you don't get settled in that way. And you certainly don't learn how to, uh, interact."
Geoff Johns: "One thing I love about this scene is that it shows that, you know, obviously the League's been together for quite a while here. But, he's still not acclimated to our world... and I think that definitely does separate him from Clark Kent and Superman, who grew up here. But it also does make him unique... because you know he does have similar powers to Superman and..."
Mike Carlin: "...He gives a different flavor to this, uh, mix... which is great."
On the JLA:
Geoff Johns: "Now, he was a member of the Justice League a lot when you were overseeing editorial, right?"
Mike Carlin: "Yeah, there was a point where Martian Manhunter was the only member of every incarnation of the Justice League. I don't know if that's true anymore."
Geoff Johns: "Not anymore."
Mike Carlin: "...It took him long enough. He got his own comic. Then he doesn't have to be in the Justice League anymore.
Geoff Johns: "He'll be back, though."
On the Vile Menagerie:
Mike Carlin: "Yeah, cause Martian Manhunter had very few if any villains of his own. He was always just a Justice League guy.
Geoff Johns: "Well, when you don't have your own series... How many villains does Aquaman have?"
Johns later notes that people clamor for the Martian Manhunter to be in the League because he is more clearly alien than anyone else, including Superman, making him unique. Carlin likes the cool gross creepiness of his shapeshifting powers. Johns also enjoys the shapeshifting battle between Manhunter and Malefic, especially the Starro cameo.