Stana Katic on Bringing Wonder Woman to World War II with the Justice Society

Tomorrow, the DC Universe animated films will visit yesterday. This week marks the release of Justice Society: World War II, the first animated feature film to center on the Justice Society of America and the introduction of Barry Allen's version of The Flash in the current animated continuity, which was rebooted following the events of last year's Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. Played here by Matthew Bomer, The Flash finds himself thrown back in time, where he teams up with the Justice Society of the 1940s, which includes Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Hawkman, and the Jay Garrick version of The Flash -- who in the comics Barry grew up reading about in comic books, before realizing that there was such a thing as a multiverse.

As for Wonder Woman, she is voiced by Castle and Superman: Unbound star Stana Katic (ironcially, Bomer played Superman to Katic's Lois Lane in Unbound). As with many of the character's recent other-media appearances, the Amazonian aspects of her backstory, as well as her relationship with mortal man Steve Trevor, are key elements of her character.

Katic joined ComicBook to discuss the film, which will be available digitally tomorrow and on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K discs in two weeks.

Obviously with the movies, it's established for most people that Wonder Woman is immortal. So were you surprised by the World War II setting?

Actually, I was very surprised. I love the idea of it, because it felt like this was an opportunity for us, and for me, to pay homage to some of the origin elements of the character.

Because Diana doesn't age, did you at all approach this with the idea that you might meet Barry again, years down the line?

As an actor, you never want to play in advance, you definitely want to play the moment. I think the characters have a fun chemistry -- at first it's friend or foe, and then Matt's character is very much the fish out of water -- and for Wonder Woman I think that he's an added responsibility until he proves himself and helps the group. So I think for me it was just a matter of focusing on what that particular story needed and not playing ahead of it.

Wonder Woman isn't of the era, but we know what Hollywood actors sounded like in the Forties. Was there any temptation to imbue the performance with some of that energy?

I was asking the guys, "what do you guys want to do with this character's voice?" And they really wanted to pay homage to her mythology, by having her have an accent. So they were focused on having that sort of 1940s sort of banter sound, and that was already embedded in the actual dialogue. That's just in the dialogue, but as far as like the rhythm of the character and the rhythm of the voice, the guys really wanted to focus on developing an accent that would pay homage to her mythology.

So, I had the task of imagining what a Scythian Illyrian Thracian-like warrior woman might sound like today. And that was a hoot, because I've read about that history about the origins of the Amazon mythology and really enjoyed digging into it. At the time we were recording this movie, I was working near the Black Sea, which is believed to be the location where the original Themyscira was based. And so there you go that's kind of like the origins of finding this character, this version of the character.

Obviously, with Castle, you had this perona where you played a character who was really likable, but tough, and you leaned on dry humor. How important do you think it is to keep a sense of humor in these projects where there are life and death stakes?

I didn't know that would be my brand, but I think that a sense of humor is critical in everything. And I think, especially when you're saving the world from Nazis, you just need a break from the high stakes of it all. We were able to imbue the story with a bit of that. And like I said, I don't know if I can take any credit for it. Definitely I think there's some lines that are just so fun, and play to that element, that are in the script.

It does kind of seem like demigods fighting Nazis is about as big as you get in terms of scope.

Yeah. Right, it's very kind of Grecian, isn't it?

I think characters are grounded in their relationships with one another. The relationships are imperfect, the characters make mistakes, and so that's where they're relatable. They're very admirable in the way in which they fight evil but I think that your audience members can put themselves in our characters spaces when it comes down to the relationships. And in this story in particular Wonder Woman is absolutely crazy about Steve Trevor, but you know she's not able to find a balance between saving the world and living life, living her own life. And so that's a part of her arc and this story, and I think that that work-life balance is very relatable. And I think even now in this pandemic, people are struggling to find ways in which they can make it through the day and still enjoy the day.

So I think that that's very relatable, even in the present moment. What else is interesting to me, is the idea that these characters are superhuman, but there's a tremendous amount of integrity in them. I feel like, as a viewer, it was a moment of respite for me because I'm looking at, in Wonder Woman's case, a leader who is an non-predatory leader, and who has a tremendous amount of integrity, who's accountable for her mistakes and is accountable to her team. And I feel like, in today's atmosphere, we're looking for that, we're looking for examples of leadership that have those qualities.

Aside from Steve, is there a dynamic within the team which, when the movie was done, surprised you with how effective it was?

There's a number of dynamics. I really loved their performances, I thought that the cast delivered so much....They added a tremendous amount of color and chemistry to the characters. And so I think that a lot of the relationships plan screen due to the talent that these guys assembled.

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For instance, I really enjoyed Omid Abtahi's rendition of Hawkman. We were all kind of laughing in one of these interviews, because we're like, "How do you play a many-thousand year old character?" But listening to him, I believe it. I'm like, "Yeah, this dude has reincarnated many times over." And then Elysia Rotaru as well, I thought, "what a powerhouse," and Black Canary, you get the sense that she could be boss lady any day of this group as well. That's solely because of her read and her work with Jeff [Wamester] and Butch [Lukic].

Beyond that, of course, you know my character has this beautiful sort of play with Steve Trevor, and I feel like a lot of the chemistry in that relationship is on Chris Diamantopoulos, who delivered this wonderful, sort of roguishly-cheeky rendition of Steve, and played up on that side between the two characters. So I hope it plays for audiences. I hope they enjoy the dynamic between the characters, and I certainly enjoyed delivering it.