Legion of Super-Heroes Star Harry Shum Jr. on What Draws him to Franchises Like DC and Grey's Anatomy

Somewhere in between appearing in the Oscar-nominated Everything Everywhere All At Once and landing a gig on primetime staple Grey's Anatomy, actor Harry Shum, Jr. found time to provide the voice of Brainiac 5 in Legion of Super-Heroes,  a DC Universe animated feature film that hits Digital, Blu-ray, and DVD today. In the movie, Supergirl is feeling traumatized by the loss of her homeworld and profoundly out of place in a world of superheroes where she is operating on a steep learning curve. Superman suggests she heads to the future, where she can train with the Legion to control her powers, and maybe find some semblance of family along the way.

One of the first people she encounters is Brainiac 5, whom she immediately does not trust, because of his family's legacy of evil. Much of the movie's conflict centers around whether she can trust him when a mysterious army of masked villains tries to loot a powerful weapon from the Legion's vault. Shum, who previously appeared in Shadowhunters and Glee, is no stranger to taking on roles with a passionate audience who have high expectations.

"It's a balancing act to honor what people loved about the show or the novel or something you're adapting, or these characters that they've lived with longer than you have," Shum told ComicBook.com. "I think I always approach it, at the core, by trying to figure out what has defined them, and then also strip that away so that I can see the core humanity of those characters, and then strip that away. I think that's what's going to stay strong and go beyond, whether you're going with a 400-year-old warlock, or an intern that has been battling to try to get into the program at a well-established hospital, to Brainiac 5, who has all of his ancestors wanting to wreak havoc on the universe, while he's trying to something differently. Here, he's meeting with someone who has been beloved, but also at the same time, always falling in the shadow of her relative. So I think when you look at the humanity of it all, there's more clarity behind it."

Shum said that his love of comics, and Brainiac 5's sense of isolation, both contributed to his wanting to tackle the job. This means he has provided animated voices for big, spacebound franchises set in the future twice recently, since he also popped up in Star Trek: Lower Decks.

"I think there is a loner aspect of him, which I thought was really interesting, especially when you're talking about family as a theme," Shum said. "There's this connection that you always want to have between people, and to pass down to the generation after, but I think there's this loneliness, and reading the script, I saw Brainiac 5, and I identified with that in a lot of ways. Growing up as a kid, I was a very lonely kid. I was very much rolling solo, and comic books were the safe haven where I was allowed to explore taking on the things that you were so afraid of taking on before. I think with Brainiac 5, watching him work through these things at a high level, and being able to see these things in a different way than anybody else would...that puts you in a lonely place, because you're the only one who can see it that way, so you can't really connect with anybody. I think being able to take a step back and seeing Brainiac 5 explore his emotions and his vulnerability was really nice to see, with someone who is not only as powerful as Supergirl, but as powerful as her as well."

You can check out the official synopsis for Legion of Super-Heroes below.

Welcome to the 31st century and the Legion Academy, where a new generation hones their powers with hopes of joining the Legion of Super-Heroes. Devastated by tragedy, Supergirl struggles to adjust to her new life on Earth. Taking her cousin Superman's advice, Supergirl leaves their space-time to attend the Academy. There, she quickly makes new friends, as well as a new enemy with old ties: Brainiac 5. But a nefarious plot lurks in the shadows – the mysterious group known as the Dark Circle seeks a powerful weapon held in the Academy's vault. Find out if the budding heroes can rise to the challenge in this all-new DC Universe Movie!