Superman: Red Son continues the Elseworlds tradition of recent DC Animated films, such as Gotham By Gaslight. This time, the story is based on Mark Millar’s epic comic book series of the same name, which places Clark Kent in the Soviet Union instead of a Smallville, Kansas and follows the ripple effects of that one shift. The changes start off small, but the story soon morphs into a battle for world dominance with unthinkable scenarios such as Lois Lane becoming Lois Luthor.
The voice cast of the film attended a premiere screening, where they explained to DCTV Podcasts just how differently they viewed their iconic characters in this new setting. Many times, however, the core characteristics of the hero in question shines through even in the strangest of circumstances.
We posed the question of how each actor would compare their character’s Superman: Red Son personality to the one comic book readers and DC watchers know and love. Here are their responses:
Jason Isaacs (Superman): Superman in this film is committed to the truth; he’s committed to making the world a better place. He’s honest, and he’s passionate. The other versions of Superman have just never engaged in a wider plan to try and make the world a better place so that people live well. But in this, he has a lot of political power in his hands, and he can use his powers and his smarts to try and make sure that the world runs well, and that people are mostly satisfied. It’s a challenging thing to do.
We think we have a poor choice of people to run the world the moment the president, but even when you have an ideal person like Superman, whose morals and ethics are beyond reproach, it’s still not easy to work out how to do it best.
Amy Acker (Lois Lane): Her core is the same. She’s still pressing for the truth, it’s just that she’s kind of doing it in a different direction and with different people. It’s hard not to think that if she’s married to Lex Luthor, that’s affecting her core qualities, but in this it all seems to make sense.
I feel like the first and only superhero movie I saw for a very long time in my childhood was Superman, so I always wanted to be Lois Lane even though I didn’t want to be an actress. I just wanted to actually be Lois Lane. I admire her strength, her tenacity. She’s not afraid to ask the hard questions and force people to give her answers. She just seems like a pretty cool girl.
Vanessa Marshall (Wonder Woman): You’ll have to watch and find out. But I love that she fights for peace, love and justice, no matter who’s perpetrating the crime. I feel like that’s such a noble thing, and that we all should have the same values. I try to embody those values myself. I’m also a martial artist, so I love a good fight.
Phil Morris (Jimmy Olsen): Well, this Jimmy Olsen is a military officer when we first meet him. He’s quite close to Lex Luthor; he’s an aide to camp to Lex Luthor. He then becomes something else that I don’t want to give away. But the underpinnings that we see in Jimmy Olsen – which are that he’s altruistic, eager, willing to please, a loyalist – are the same. It’s just with Lex Luthor that I’m loyal, and it’s just his journey that I’m honoring and respecting.
Again, it’s not different than the Jimmy we know in the internal workings. It’s just the external world that is different.
Roger Craig Smith (Batman): Every character that you’re seeing in this, they are such a different version – save maybe Wonder Woman – from what we’ve seen before. Arguably, that’s why it was such a blast to be able to voice Batman for this particular project. What a cool, dark, creepy version; but also not campy and not done in a way that was like, “That doesn’t make sense. Why did they plug them in here?” It all made perfectly good sense.
That’s where the compelling argument of people feeling like they’re doing what’s right for the greater good comes in. Superman and Batman in this feels that that’s what are doing. Batman feels like that’s what he’s doing. “I gotta stop you; you are drunk with power.” I imagine that if I were to think about Batman in the way we’ve come to know that character, that element of “I’m gonna stick up for the little guy” is definitely still there. That, to me, was his motivation in this.
Sasha Roiz (Green Lantern): I mean, he’s still very much determined to protect the people he loves in the country he loves, so that doesn’t change. But in many ways, it’s a different side of him because the threat is just something they’ve never had to deal with before. It definitely brings out different components of his personality and demands more of him in some ways.
Travis Willingham is in a unique position as Superior Man, because he was created specifically for the Red Son world in order to bring down the Soviet Superman. But he still had insight into how different it is to watch Kal-El in this new situation.
Travis Willingham (Superior Man): I mean, for me, Superman is so grounded and represents American virtues. He has that persona that we know and love, so when you get to see when you get to see that change… You’re like, “Tell me more. How does it shape him? Does he change?”
And for me, in this movie, the first second that I heard Jason Isaacs with that deep rumbling voice and that Soviet Union accent, I knew we were in for a new story. Doesn’t help that Lex Luthor and Lois are paired up and all these different things. Things are starting to shift and change. I think it’s just anything that we identify with and we’ve grown up, when it’s turned on its head like that, you’re just instantly intrigued by it.
Superman: Red Son is currently available to watch digitally, and the Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD releases are coming on March 17th.