Aquaman is finally getting his due and comes out swinging in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, the latest animated movie from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Matt Lanter, who provided the voice of Anakin Skywalker in Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars, stars as Arthur Curry, the angry reluctant hero who finds his destiny as the King of Atlantis. Aquaman has suffered a lot of scrutiny over the years in the public eye as that “superhero who talks to fishes,” but Throne of Atlantis promises to set DC icon on a new path as a force to be reckoned with.
Throne of Atlantis adapts a comic arc that pits the undersea nation of Atlantis against the surface world. Unlike the comic, the movie will focus on how young Arthur Curry discovers his aquatic heritage. Raised by his human father, when the movie begins he doesn’t know that he is the heir to the throne of the watery kingdom.
I had the opportunity to participate in a round table interview with the actor at New York Comic Con, who shared his thoughts on this new take on Aquaman, what drew him to the role and how he found inspiration in bringing the hero to life in the voice-over booth.
QUESTION: First question: Do you only wear Aquaman t-shirts now?
MATT LANTER: That’s all I have. Warner Bros. literally came and burned my wardrobe.
QUESTION: Can you swim?
MATT LANTER: I can swim. I used to swim when I was a kid on the swim team. I got 18th place in county at backstroke.
QUESTION: Out of 19?
MATT LANTER: Out of a lot. Yeah, really small county.
QUESTION: Hollering up on you, can you talk to fish?
MATT LANTER: Well I can but they don’t really talk back to me but we can all talk to fish.
QUESTION: When you were first approached about this role were you like, “Really? Aquaman?”
MATT LANTER: No. When I was first approached about the role, when someone comes to you and says “Do you want to play a superhero?” You just say “Yeah.” I know Aquaman seems to get a lot of heat for not being real cool but hopefully that’s one of the things that this film can do, kind of make him cool again. I think he’s cool. I think when you see the film you see him throwing dudes around it’s pretty cool.
QUESTION: How did you approach that as far as Arthur being as angry?
MATT LANTER: Well for me I just went off the script that we had, which is a very good script. I approach him less as a superhero more as a person. More as a person who’s just dealt with some tragedy and is dealing with tragedy. He’s got a lot of inner anger going on. So it was more about that for me. More about being Arthur Curry, the guy who’s down and out than it was being Aquaman.
QUESTION: How do you prefer animation compared to your live action?
MATT LANTER: I think I enjoy both for different reasons. That’s one of the reasons that I do enjoy on camera, because you get to act with other actors. You’re there in the clothes, you’re on set, you get to use props to put you in that world and of course you don’t have that luxury when you’re doing voice over. But there’s also a free feeling. When you’re doing voice over, I always say it’s like being a kid in a sandbox. All of us, at one point we were all probably 5-years-old playing with action figures and like making sounds with our mouth, you know. It’s like a total release of creativity and just being free. You can’t slobber all over the microphone but you pretend. That’s what it is.
QUESTION: Are you very animated in the booth?
MATT LANTER: Sometimes. I mean it depends on what scene it is. If there’s some time where I’m having throw a trident or swing a lightsaber or something, I might grab a pencil. But you also have to remember that logistically you can’t do too much because they’ll get your clothes on the mic.
QUESTION: What’s it like with your character’s recording interactions with the Justice League itself?
MATT LANTER: I mean really at this point this is origin story so we don’t see a whole lot of him interacting with the rest of the Justice League yet. Towards the end of the film you see a little bit of it. Kind of him dealing with being approached and becoming part of the Justice League. But really for the most part, more of the film deals with Arthur Curry being Arthur Curry and dealing with his demons and a little bit with Mera and Orm. And being challenged in a way by his brother. So it was less with the Justice League, more with the characters that are kind of in the Aquaman world.
QUESTION: Did this story surprise you in anyway with, with your preconceptions of Aquaman?
MATT LANTER: You know to be completely honest with you, I did not know much about Aquaman. I wasn’t a reader of the comics. Of course we all know, I feel like Aquaman has been a little bit less in the limelight, in the last whatever, however many decades. To tell you the truth I didn’t know much about him. Of course when I booked the gig, I did the Wiki and tried to kind of gather as much information as I could. I know there’s a couple of renditions as well but more or less I went off the script and less about who Aquaman was and what he’s done and more about who is Arthur Curry in this script. Really none of that matters at this point for this.
QUESTION: Were you a big fan of like the Justice League cartoons?
MATT LANTER: I was a huge fan of Batman: The Animated Series when I was young. I really can’t say that I watched a whole lot of the Justice League cartoon. I don’t know why. The Batman animated series was that for me when I was young. Turtles and X-Men were huge for me.
QUESTION: There’s not that many animated renditions of Aquaman. So where did you pull yours from?
MATT LANTER: Well they called me up and gave me the job. When I went in I said to Andrea, who by the way I wholeheartedly trust in directing me and guiding me into any sentence that she says because she’s the best. With her there as a huge safety net I didn’t have to worry about what kind of voice quality do I bring. But when I went in of course I asked her: “What are you guys looking for in this Aquaman? How do you want me to sound?” I think that’s one of the reasons why they cast me because they liked my voice quality. So really it was more about just be the character. Less about like how do I tweak my voice to be Arthur Curry. So I kind of had the luxury of not having to really deal with that. It was more or less just jump into character.
QUESTION: Dive in as it were.
MATT LANTER: Dive in (laughs). Exactly.
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis hits Blu-ray, DVD and VOD on January 27th and also stars Jason O’Mara (Batman), Jerry O’Connell (Superman), Shemar Moore (Cyborg), Christopher Gorham (Flash), Nathan Fillion (Green Lantern), Sean Astin (Shazam), Rosario Dawson (Wonder Woman), Sam Witwer (Orm) and Sumalee Montano (Mera).