Ricky Church chats to David Guintoli about Batman: Soul of the Dragon…
The first of Warner Bros. Animation’s DC films of 2021 will be released in just a couple weeks with Batman: Soul of the Dragon. Taking place in the 1970s, the film takes a look at Batman’s days training in the martial arts with his fellow students and how they must come together again to defeat a powerful threat to the world. Starring alongside Batman (David Giuntoli) are Richard Dragon (Mark Dacascos), Lady Shiva (Kelly Hu) and Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), some of the most skilled and deadly fighters in the DC Universe.
Soul of the Dragon is a throwback to the 1970s film genre of martial arts action adventure movies, taking inspiration from Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon and other such films in the genre. We spoke with actor David Giuntoli, who is best known for his leading role in the supernatural series Grimm and currently stars in A Million Little Things. Guintoli plays Batman in the film which has a strong focus on Bruce Wayne during his training to become the Dark Knight and the battle he wages within himself as he fights crime. We chatted about Batman’s character arc, the 1970s influence on the film and more. Check out our interview below…
Ricky Church: In Batman Soul of the Dragon you get to play the title character. You get to play Batman. What was that like for you?
David Giuntoli: It was horrendous, it was terrifying and it was thrilling. It was all three at once. I will say the script was so fun. It was clearly going to be a little tongue in cheek, a throwback to 1970s Kung Fu movies. It was extremely fun to find places where we could make the audience have fun and play with the genre. The other actors were phenomenal. I finally got to watch it and, boy, it was a joy to watch what they did with this kind of period piece!
One of the interesting things about this movie is it features a lot of Bruce Wayne over Batman. How did you approach playing Bruce, particularly in his youth when he’s just discovering himself?
Yeah, vocally I didn’t go as deep as I could possibly go. I’d save that for Batman. I think that Bruce Wayne wasn’t as dorky as I was in my youth. I played him somewhat serious, grounded and searching. He’s a guy with a deeply troubled past with a fire burning inside of him. I think Bruce Wayne, when young, he didn’t know how to furnace that full power inside of him. So we didn’t want to show that side much early on. It was inside of him, but he didn’t know how to get to it. So we kept him a little higher vocally, but still fairly deadly serious most of the time.
As you mentioned earlier, Soul of the Dragon is a nice throwback to like the 70s era of martial arts adventure films. Were you ever a fan of those? Did you take any inspiration from any of them into your performance?
I have to say I am the least cinematically educated person. So I tried to use this to my advantage. I just read the script. I knew what they were going for, I knew that we were going to do 70s Kung Fu. I saw some winks to the audience here and there. The writing was very playful and they were having fun with the genre and I think because we’re kind of commenting on the genre, we were able to do things you can’t really do in movies anymore. It kinda frees you up to behave in a different way. I think that’s why it’s so fun. But I wasn’t a big fan of any of that growing up. There was a big chasm in my knowledge and perhaps I’ll start watching a little more now.
We see a bit of Bruce’s darker side as he pushes people away from him and he gets warned about the path that he’s taking. How did you balance the heroic side to Batman with his darker side?
Wes Gleason, our voice director, was on the microphones with me. He and Sam Liu were directing me and producing me and all that stuff and they completely kept me in check and balance. When you’re doing voiceover stuff, you’re really doing it in a vacuum. You’re not seeing the sets. You’re not seeing the other actors. You’re not hearing out there how you’re performing. Finding the tone is really a trust fall. You have to trust your directors and that’s exactly what I did and they delivered it for me.
Now the movie is also an ensemble film. Batman’s in this group of some of the world’s best martial artists. Um, so what was it like to see him onscreen with these other DC heroes?
I am so happy it was an ensemble. It may be called Batman, but it is clearly a full on ensemble film. It couldn’t have worked out better. When I finally got to see the movie this week I was so impressed by the work of these other actors. It was becoming some of their journeys. Batman’s arc isn’t even necessarily the biggest character arc in this movie which was fun. And thank God there were so many other actors in it. You get a sense of the depth of emotion and comedy and I think it really balanced out the darkness of Batman.
Would you ever want to see another team up between Batman and Richard Dragon?
Of course. There are elements, I think there are various levels of brotherly relationships and brother/sister relationships. Richard Dragon and Bruce Wayne/Batman was so rich and you could really see their relationship, how it formed and it was special.
Thank you to David Giuntoli for speaking with us!
Batman: Soul of the Dragon will be released on Digital January 12th and on 4k and Blu-ray January 26th.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.