Young Justice — An Interview with the Producers

Young Justice
Young Justice

Young Justice is featured on Cartoon Network’s Saturday Morning DC Nation block. The series focus on Robin (Tim Drake), Superboy, Artemis, Kid Flash, Miss Martian and Aqualad as teenagers trying to prove themselves to their mentors. Going on their second season, the series has been getting rave reviews both online and on iTunes.

This season’s synopis is pretty interesting:

The Team has proven itself time and again as the Justice League’s secret weapon.  But now as Season Two moves beyond the mere terrestrial to become more galactic in scope, the League itself is split in half, and the Team is forced to step forward into the front lines to defend planet Earth from invasion.

I was given the opportunity to interview the producers of Young Justice, Brandon Vietti and Greg Wesiman, and ask them a few questions about the show.

GeekMom: When making the decisions on who to have as part of the team, what kind of things did you take into consideration?
Young Justice: Powers, diversity, personalities and who had the most secrets and lies. Dynamics BETWEEN characters were also essential. We wanted a good mix of all the above, but we also wanted the relationships to feel real. Plus, we both had some favorite characters that we just wanted to work with and see on screen.

GM: What do you think draws audiences into watching a show about young super-heroes?
YJ: Teenagers are relatable AND flawed. They’re a work in progress, still figuring out who they are and how they plan to present themselves to the world. We also incorporated classic adult super-heroes to showcase mentor/protege relationships, which gave our series a unique spin – and a lot of eye-candy.

GM: Are there any ideas that have hit the cutting room floor that you would like to see reconsidered for a future episode?
YJ: We had WAY more ideas than we had episodes to tell them in. Some of those have found/will find their way into the companion comic book. Others we’re saving in the hope for more seasons.

GM: Are you ever concerned about the show being too comical or serious?
YJ: We’re almost NEVER concerned about it being too comical. The more humor – at the right moments – the better. Beyond that, we simply tried to make the series as real as possible, given that we had folks running around with super-powers saving the world.

GM: What episode has been your favorite to work on so far?
YJ: They’re all our children. It’s too hard to pick favorites.

GM: When deciding to feature a particular character in an episode, what kinds of things do you take into consideration?
YJ: First season we tried to set a balance between our six leads and our two or three major recurring characters. But more often than not, first season and especially second season, STORY drove our choices. We look at each individual character and how each individual’s story will effect the rest of the Team as a whole. Often, a fully developed and realized characters will almost seem to tell us what they’re going to do next.

GM: What is the process for casting someone as a voice in an animated series?
YJ: We held auditions for our original six leads, and for a handful of new second season characters. But often, it’s about Greg, Brandon and Voice Director Jamie Thomason sitting in a room together and brainstorming casting options from either actors we’ve worked with before and/or performers we’ve admired in other projects, both animated and live action.

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Young Justice
Young Justice

GM: Do you consult with DC Comics or any other sources when planning an episode?
YJ: Yes. DC and Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Animation have all been great partners on the series. In particular, we received a lot of great feedback and suggestions from DC that helped drive the second season. We also have some real hardcore geeks – even relative to us – we go to for deep DC Universe research.

GM: How do you know when the time to introduce a new character is and how do you decide who it’s going to be?
YJ: We’ve tried to create a world that’s real to us. So often a character is introduced when he or she is ready to step forward, in concert with the needs of our over-arcing story. Sometimes a new character changes the dynamic of our Team, forcing the existing characters into new situations that help them grow or change.

We also have certain stories we want to tell within the DC Universe (or our version, “Earth-16”), and those stories necessitate the introduction of a specific DC character. Other times we have an “unnamed” character that we need for story purposes – even very minor story purposes – and we search for an existing DC character that might fit that slot and be useful to us down the road.

GM: Do the voice actors get to have any input in their character’s story-line or dialogue? Are they allowed to improvise on the script?
YJ: They’re definitely allowed to improvise. Sometimes they come up with great stuff, and we use it. Other times we stick with what’s on the page, because we have a better idea of what’s coming down the pike. We’ve talked with most of our regulars about their characters, and definitely value their input. Mostly, all of us involved just love these characters and do our best to do justice to them. Pun intended.

GM: How long does it take for an episode to go from idea to being aired on the network?
YJ: Like most babies, ours gestate for about nine months.

Young Justice
Young Justice

GM: I’ve seen some characters in a show and wondered “what were they thinking?”, only to see the character grow and become a likeable part of the show. Do you have a process for dealing with a character that is not perceived well by the audience?
YJ: Well, most of our stuff is so far along by the time the audience gets even its FIRST view of any character, it’s way too late for us to adjust – even if we wanted to. But the truth is, most of the time we have long term plans for all but the most minor of characters, and if the audience keeps a little faith, even some of our most seemingly bizarre choices tend to pay off.

Of course, unlikable characters are an important texture when trying to create a real world. So we’ve also designed some characters specifically to BE unlikable out of the gate, with the intention of letting them sneak up on you and become likable over the course of the series.

I’m looking forward to see what they have coming up this season. So far, the characters and storyline seem to be shaping up quite nicely.

DC Nation airs on Cartoon Network Saturday mornings. Check your local listings for time and availability.

Young Justice and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC Comics.

Dakster Sullivan is a network administrator by day and a cosplayer by night. She loves discovering new books to read, tech to play with, and ways to express her herself. She has anxiety and depression and strives to educate others about these invisible illnesses.