The World’s Finest continues its series of presenting studio-conducted interviews, provided by Warner Home Video, for the upcoming Superman/Batman: Public Enemies direct-to-video animated feature. Continue reading below for the latest installment featuring actor LeVar Burton.LeVar Burton is electric as Black Lightning in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
Star Trek: The Next Generation star adds sci-fi cache to all-star cast of
sixth DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movie
As the voice of Black Lightning, LeVar Burton adds another level of fanboy cache to a cast thick with legends of the super hero genre in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
, the next entry in the popular series of DC Universe animated original PG-13 movies.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies boasts a cast headed by the definitive voices of its three central characters Kevin Conroy (Batman), Tim Daly (Superman) and Clancy Brown (Lex Luthor), the original voices from the landmark Superman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series.
Burton is forever beloved by the sci-fi crowd for his memorable performance as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation and its feature film versions. However, Burton has done far more than go where no man has gone before.
In a career that essentially launched with his breakthrough performance in the landmark miniseries Roots, Burton has garnered seven Emmy Awards, three Image Awards, a Peabody as well as a Grammy, and in 1990 was permanently enshrined as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Along the way, Burton has been a virtual fixture on television screens from his 176 episodes of Next Gen and 150 episodes of Reading Rainbow, to another 41 episodes of The $10,000 Pyramid and 58 episodes as Kwame in Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Along the way, he has also directed several episodes of the last four Star Trek series (The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise), appeared in feature films (most notably as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ali), and even spent some time in the recording booth for Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles and Family Guy.
Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation are set to release the all-new Superman/Batman: Public Enemies on September 29, 2009 in a Blu-Ray Hi-Def edition, a special edition 2-disc DVD, and a single disc DVD. Warner Home Video will distribute the action-packed movie, which will also be available OnDemand and Pay-Per-View as well as available for download that same day.
Burtons turn as Black Lightning brought him back to the recording booth and while he was there, he took the time to discuss the joys of playing a super hero, his childhood comic book memories on a military base in Germany, the importance of reading, and the use of sci-fi as an inspiration for our future. Heres LeVar
Was it difficult to settle on a voice for Black Lightning?
I think everybody has a super hero that lives inside of them, so I just went to that place, that deep kind of super hero voice.
What were your comic book habits as a kid?
I grew up, part time, in Germany. My father was in the military, so we used to trade comic books for entertainment. On Saturdays, you took your box with all your comic books and you went around from apartment building to apartment building, trading comic books with the other American kids living on the base. Television was in German (language), so we didnt watch TV we read comics. But this was before black super heroes came around they didnt start appearing until the ’70s. So it’s mildly exciting for me to actually have a chance to play a black super hero today.
Choose one: Batman or Superman?
When I was a kid, it was always Batman over Superman. Batman had all the cool stuff, and he just had a vibe. Superman was the All-American guy but, with Batman, theres a little something going on. Batmans history was a little edgier, and there was just something really attractive to me about the cowl. Superman is all out there, even though he does the Clark Kent thing, but Batman keeps his identity hidden. He has this double life thats very sexy, very attractive for a kid. Not that I didnt like Superman the whole kryptonite thing is all well and good but Batman was my guy.
What makes comic books great literature?
People ask me all the time, because I did Reading Rainbow on PBS for 25 years, How do I get my kids to read? And I say, Find something that theyre passionate about. If its comic books that they want to read, then buy them comic books, for goodness sakes. Comic books are good literature and, like science fiction, they have a tendency to
really draw us toward that part of ourselves that imagines that which we create.
I’m one of those people that believes that there was some kid back in the 1960s watching Star Trek, and he kept seeing Captain Kirk pull out this communicator and flip it open and that kid grew up and became an engineer, a designer of products, and we now have a device that is more common than the toaster. How many flip phones do you see on a daily basis? That which we imagine is what we tend to manifest in third dimension thats what human beings do, we are manifesting machines. The metaphor of a man who has an external electronic device, something man made that serves him and somehow serves humanity, and that he becomes so aligned with that device, with the power of that device, that at one point he can discard it I think thats a real metaphor for the human journey. One day we wont need a transporter device to get from one place to another. And it begins with the wheel and then migrates through airplanes to some future technology that we cant produce yet but we can imagine. Imagination is really the key part of the human journey, its the key to the process of manifesting what our heart’s desire is.
When I was a kid, it was comic books that pointed me in that direction and from comic books I went to science fiction literature, which is still one of my most favorite genres of literature to read. Dont underestimate the power of comics and what they represent for us and how they inform us on the journey of being human because its powerful. Its very powerful. They give us permission to contemplate whats possible. And in this world, in this universe, there’s nothing that is not possible. If you can dream it, you can do it.
Can you appreciate the passion of the sci-fi fan?
Oh yeah. Because I am one. When I was a kid, I read a lot of science fiction books and it was rare for me to see heroes of color in the pages of those novels. Gene Roddenberry had a vision of the future, and Star Trek was one that said to me, as a kid growing up in Sacramento, California, When the future comes, theres a place for you. Ive said this many times, and Whoopi (Goldberg) feels the same way seeing Nichelle Nichols on the bridge of the Enterprise meant that we are a part of the future. So I was a huge fan of the original series and to have grown up and become of that mythos, a part of that family, and to represent people dealing with physical challenges, much like what Nichelle Nichols represented for people like Whoopi and myself, I cant even begin to share with you what that means to me. It was just beyond the beyond. So I get Star Trek fans, I get science fiction fans because, again, science fiction literature is that body of literature that causes us to ask what I feel are two of the most of the most powerful words in sequence, in language what if? And thats an open door, thats an open door to use your imagination to dream and to dream the big dream. As an actor, I dress up for a living and I get paid for it so, to see a guy come to a convention in his costume that hes made its a good thing, you know. This guy isnt out there beating his wife or kicking his dog, hes engaging in a healthy fantasy role-play. I think too many grown ups forget how important that part of our lives are, the ability to imagine and to dream. So its all good.
Youre Black Lightning for this film. If you could play any super hero role, do you have a role you covet?
Well, Ill start with Black Lightning. That aint a bad place to start. I mean, come on, if youre going to play a super hero, why not play the first real black super hero in the pantheon? I’m good with that.
Does voiceover work have any special appeal for you?
I love voiceovers because, and Im sure you hear this from actors all the time, but its kind of pure acting. For many years on Next Gen, I wore this visor over my eyes and one of the things that I discovered was that its really difficult to communicate, or its harder to communicate, when you cant see someones eyes. As a result of playing Geordi, I really do recognize how important the voice is and what a facile tool for communication the voice can be. When I was kid, we listened to radio a lot for entertainment and I remember how vivid that was for me. To this day, I listen to NPR and I love doing audio books because its like its pure storytelling. Its sitting around the fire and sharing stories, really engaging your imagination. So, as an actor, sitting in front of a microphone and creating is just so much fun because it really does break it down to its most pure and elemental level. Its just you and the voice and the character telling a story.
Does it ever feel odd to be acting all alone?
Well, during the physical parts of the voiceover, when youre doing all the action scenes, I think if you were an alien and dropped into a recording studio and were observing a session, you would really wonder about the sanity of the beings that you are observing. But its fun and it feels a little silly, but thats what gets it done. When theyre in that mode, I think actors are just big kids and we like playing in the sandbox.
For more information, images and updates, please visit the films official website at www.SupermanBatmanDVD.com.
Suggested captions for attached images:
LeVar Burton, the voice of Black Lightning, poses with casting/dialogue director Andrea Romano and executive producer Bruce Timm following a recording session for Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. The DCU Universe animated original movie is set for distribution September 29, 2009 by Warner Home Video.
Black Lightning unleashes his electric power on Batman as super heroes battle super heroes in the next DC Universe animated original movie, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, which is set for distribution September 29, 2009 by Warner Home Video. LeVar Burton provides the voice of Black Lightning.
Black Lightning and Power Girl square for battle during a key scene in the next DC Universe animated original movie, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, which is set for distribution September 29, 2009 by Warner Home Video. LeVar Burton provides the voice of Black Lightning, and Allison Mack voices Power Girl.
A conversation in the Batcave between two super heroes, Superman and the ever-analytical Batman, during the early stages of the next DC Universe animated original movie, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, which is set for distribution September 29, 2009 by Warner Home Video.
Trademark information for the images:
SUPERMAN Warner Bros. Ent Inc. BATMAN Warner Bros. Ent Inc. “SUPERMAN” and BATMAN and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and DC Comics. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
A co-production of Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation, the direct-to-video Superman/Batman: Public Enemies animated feature will debut Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 on DVD and Blu-ray disc. Stay tuned for further Superman/Batman: Public Enemies updates.
Stay tuned for further Superman/Batman: Public Enemies updates coming soon!
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