Ricky Church chats with Legion of Super-Heroes star Yuri Lowenthal…
DC’s latest animated film Legion of Super-Heroes has now been released, taking viewers along a ride to the 31st Century with Supergirl as she learns to hone her powers. Training alongside new Legion recruits as well as the egotistical Brainiac 5, a descendent of Superman’s enemy, Supergirl and her new friends discover a threat that could destroy the universe and must work together in order to prevent it.
We spoke with voice actor Yuri Lowenthal who plays Legion recruit and Superman fan Mon-El. In a funny full circle moment, the film actually marks a return for Lowenthal to the Legion as he starred in the 2006 Legion of Super-Heroes animated series as a young Superman who travels to the 31st Century and meets the Legion, learning of the future destined for him and helping the Legion fight galactic threats. We spoke with Lowenthal about returning to the Legion as Mon-El, the team’s appeal and his other superhero roles like Spider-Man in the latest PlayStation Spider-Man series. Check out our interview below…
Ricky Church: In this movie you play Mon-El and he is quite a super fan of the Legion and of Superman and Supergirl in particular. That aspect probably wasn’t much of a stretch to play for you, now was it?
Yuri Lowenthal: No, it was not. And it was the key to unlocking this particular version of Mon-El, the fact that he is this huge Superman Family fanboy and immediately crushes on Supergirl.
Nice. What’s funny too is you star in this movie, but you also starred in the Legion of Superheroes TV show like 15 years ago or so. In that, you actually voiced Superman. What’s it like for you to come back to the Legion for their first feature-length animated movie and instead of playing Superman, you’re playing a Superman and Supergirl fanboy?
Right, right, we’re a club! (Laughs) Yeah, it was an interesting one to come back to a world that I fell in love with back then because when I first did that show, which I’m still in love with and wish we could bring back, that was where I fell in love with the Legion of Super-Heroes. I was not as familiar with the Legion comic growing up. So getting to come back to the Legion universe is super exciting because one of the things that I’ve always loved about Legion of Super-Heroes is unlike the Justice League, they’re all sort of set in their ways, they’re all the best at what they do, they’re super confident. In Legion of Super-Heroes all these kids, they’re teenagers, like superheroes in training. They’re dealing with teenager stuff.
It’s exciting to see that in a different way and you can really feel for these kids who are figuring themselves out as they also try to save the universe. But also there are so many different Legionnaires that each time you come to a Legion story, the cool thing about it is who are they going to have in the lineup? It could be such a wildly different mix every time. Which cool, weird powers are they going to have because Arms Fall Off Boy is sort of the perfect example of what makes the Legion the Legion and not just another Justice League or whatever. I was really excited to come back and see where they were going to go with it.
Cool. Like you said, the Legion are not as popular as the Justice League or other superhero groups, but they still have quite a dedicated fan base among those who read the Legion comics and like the DC Universe. What is it that makes them so popular?
I think it’s those two things or at least that’s what it is for me. I think the fact that they’re unformed, they’re still going through a lot of growing up and lessons and figuring out the world, themselves and relationships while they’re trying to deal with powers and assaults from super villains. It adds something to that story that we see a lot that’s really engaging for me. And then again, there’s so many different members and so many different powers and ways you can mix them up and tell a story. It’s always exciting and it’s always refreshing for me, but that’s what I love about the Legion.
For sure. Now even though the Legion is the focus of this movie, Supergirl is the central character and she’s been very popular in recent years with the Supergirl TV series and comics she’s headlined. Why do you think she is such a beloved character on her own and what sets her apart from Superman?
Well, I think a lot of people, and I hear that on the recent live-action show they actually had Mon-El. I just found that out and I’m going to have to go back and watch the show. I think, you know, Superman inherently is always told from a very specific perspective that you can only get when you’re telling a Superman story. And with Supergirl, there’s Superman stories where he’s young as well so I would say it’s less about Supergirl being young although she’s more often portrayed in that way. You don’t see a lot of Superwoman stories, unfortunately, but she’s always Supergirl.
But there’s inherently a different angle on that story that you’re going get when that character is a woman. I think it’s refreshing because we’ve seen so many Superman stories and to get just a different take and to open up the Superman myth by having a basically female version of Superman with a slightly different history and background and then of course populating them in the same world. It’s not like one or the other. You get both and you get that kind of interaction in comparison as well. I know at least for me it always opens my eyes into a new element of Superman and the Superman mythology when I’m seeing a Supergirl story. That’s what I love about it. Can’t necessarily say what everybody loves about it, but that’s what’s always been fun for me. Any chance to see into the lives of women is always good for me.
Yeah, for sure. We’ve kind of touched on this a little bit, but one of the things I found interesting in the movie is that it’s like a coming of age story with Supergirl and the other Legion recruits. Like you said, they’re at the Academy, they’re learning how to use their powers, they’re trying to be on this team. How did that inspire your performance as Mon-El, to be this youngster among other youngsters finding their place in the world?
It was super fun because it helped layer Mon-El because on one hand he sees himself as kind of a big man on campus. Supergirl gets there and he’s “Oh, here, I’ll show you around. I know all the stuff. Let me take the lead here.” And yet you also see in that same moment when you meet him that he’s just this ridiculous fanboy who is probably just as green in many ways as Supergirl and all the rest of the Legionnaires at the Academy. It was fun to play those two off each other because he’s got the Superman powers, basically. He comes with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. Even if he doesn’t wave it around it’s sort of impossible to miss.
Apart from Legion of Super-Heroes, you’ve also voiced in several other comic book series and movies, whether it’s Mon-El, Superman or the recent Spider-Man video games. What do you enjoy the most when playing these characters and being part of their worlds? Why do you keep coming back to these types of superhero roles?
I can’t overstate what a dream come true it is. I grew up reading comics and I still read comics and I love movies and genre stuff, action and superheroes and horror and science fiction. I got into this business so that I could be playing in those worlds as much as possible. I love the stories that are told there. I love getting inspiration from those heroes. I love watching them find their way. I love seeing them fall and get themselves back up again, love seeing the human elements in the heroes. I will never get tired of living in this world and playing in this world and hopefully I’ll be allowed to keep doing it.
Thank you to Yuri Lowenthal for speaking with us!
Legion of Super-Heroes is now available on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD. Read our review here.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.