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Smallville: Geoff Johns talks to Jenna Busch for IGN - I worship at the television altar
tariel22
tariel22
Smallville: Geoff Johns talks to Jenna Busch for IGN
In one of my favorite interviews for Absolute Justice so far, Geoff Johns talked with Jenna Busch for IGN. What I love about GJ is his passion for the characters of the DC Universe, and for bringing them to the widest audience possible. He's a wonderful writer, and I'm so excited that the show brought him back to write Absolute Justice.

This quote intrigues me, because although I adore Chloe, I've been very confused by how she's been acting this season, especially with Clark:

"[Chloe]'s awesome, and I just think a terrific character. I actually get a little choked up at the end with her, because Allison did such a wonderful job when Martian Manhunter is talking to her about some stuff that happened in the episode, and that she has to reconsider and rethink, and there's a moment where your heart really kind of breaks for her, and you understand where she is, and how different she is from Season 1 through now. But she's such a strong character."

I was thrilled to read this quote, and to know it really is Geoff Johns' vision for this story that we'll be seeing tomorrow night, and that we'll hear his words just as he intended:

"[M]ost freelance writers, you can ask anybody in the business...they go in, they do their show and they break their episode and then they're shunted off and they're rewritten, and they see the episode when it comes on TV. Brian and Kelly brought me in with the whole staff, who are all a lot of fun, and broke the episode. I wrote the episode, they gave me notes and we worked together. I wrote every word in it. They're very respectful about that. They brought me in for all the production design, they showed me all the effects, the rough cuts, everything. Every step of the way, they included me. And that's why I came back. Because they're so much fun to work with. I get offers to do TV, I get offers to do all sorts of stuff, but I'm very particular because I love comic books so much and the DC Universe, and I want to work in that world. But when an opportunity like this comes across, that's why I do it. To work with these kinds of people and these kinds of characters."

And of course I loved what he had to say about Tom Welling directing his script:

"First off, it's an honor, because Tom has been the main driving force of the show forever. It was great. He's a really incredibly smart guy. An incredibly talented guy. I've said elsewhere, he embraced this stuff head on. A lot of people will turn away from the source material or turn away from the concept, because they get frightened of comic books. Because they don't know the world. Tom jumped right in and grabbed it and really went for it. And I couldn't be more grateful or pleased with it."

The entire interview follows:

Geoff Johns Talks Smallville: Absolute Justice
We talk to the writer about the big Justice Society of America TV movie.
by Jenna Busch

February 4, 2010 - The Smallville two-hour television movie is almost here. There has been endless speculation about who we would see and how the introduction of the Justice Society of America will change the path of the young Clark Kent/Superman. Comic book writer Geoff Johns, who wrote the wildly popular Season 8 episode "Legion" has returned to write "Absolute Justice," and I just got a chance to chat with him about the show. And boy did he give us some great info!

Johns tells us all about finally getting to write the Smallville version of Lois Lane, and how much he loved seeing Doctor Fate on screen. He also gives us some info on Chloe and her story arc (she has a one-on-one with Dr. Fate), his favorite Easter Eggs, and whether or not he'll be back if there is a Season 10. And Twitter fans, he tells us the status of that case of peanut butter Kit Kats he ordered. Dammit! Now I'm craving them!

IGN: Michael Shanks (Hawkman) mentioned that in the original script, there was a lot more about Hawkgirl. Is there anything you can tell us about that?

Geoff Johns:
Well, in one of the earlier drafts there was more...I guess, there was a scene where I went deeper into Hawkgirl's history, and how she was connected to Hawkman, and what their shared story was. And as things go, things get cut and I had to trim back on that scene. It's still in there, it's just not as detailed as I originally had it. It talked a lot about...I tied it to Ancient Egypt and to the comic book origins, but it's been trimmed back quite a bit.

IGN: I know you've said a couple of time that you really wanted to write for Smallville's version of Lois Lane (Erica Durance). What's that been like? What are the things you really like about her?

Johns:
I just love the character of Lois Lane. I love writing her. She was actually my favorite character to write in Superman: Secret Origin, and I just think Erica embodies her so perfectly. Last season when I did "Legion," I didn't get a chance to write Smallville's Lois Lane. So I was very anxious and excited to have a chance to do it this year. And she killed it. She always does.

IGN: So you've got all these superheroes, and then you've got Lois. Everyone is wondering how much interaction she has with them...

Johns:
Well, she has one-on-one time with Doctor Fate (Brent Stait), so she's right in there.

IGN: Oh, that's great!

Johns:
Yeah! And Doctor Fate sees her fate, so...

IGN: Twitter explodes when you mention "Absolute Justice" and everyone wanted to know which characters come in contact with Doctor Fate. Whose fate do we see?

Johns:
Well, he has a conversation with Lois Lane, with Clark (Tom Welling), with Martian Manhunter (Phil Morris) and with Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack). So just about everybody! [laughs]

IGN: Everyone loved the way she was written in "Legion"...

Johns:
Good, they'll like the way she's written here, I think. She's awesome, and I just think a terrific character. I actually get a little choked up at the end with her, because Allison did such a wonderful job when Martian Manhunter is talking to her about some stuff that happened in the episode, and that she has to reconsider and rethink, and there's a moment where your heart really kind of breaks for her, and you understand where she is, and how different she is from Season 1 through now. But she's such a strong character.

I've said it in other interviews, but she's a fantastic addition to the mythology of Superman. I mean, that comes down to the writers who wrote and created the character, and to Allison who delivers a fantastic performance, a great performance every time. But I hope people like what she does. She's definitely key in this episode.

IGN: Is Chloe a character that you'd like to tackle somewhere else in your work?

Johns:
In the comic books?

IGN: Yeah.

Johns:
Well, I'm not really on Superman anymore. I'm writing a Secret Origin series, but after that I'm not going to be on the character, but at some point, absolutely.

IGN: Everyone is describing this as sort of a standalone storyline. But is this really the beginning of the Clark/Superman that we all know?

Johns:
Yeah, I mean, he's continuing to grow into that and this is a massive step in that direction. I think seeing a group like this, and seeing costumes and seeing the good they did, and seeing the good they want to do again continue to push him in the right direction. He's ready. All he has to do is make the choice. And the choice is hard. Clark has to make the choice, in my eyes, to go public. And to become that inspirational figure and to lead by example. And the moment he does that, it will change everything. But that requires sacrifice, and he has so many personal connections. Those will have to be forfeit somewhat. It's a struggle for him, but he's certainly capable. He's certainly smart enough and strong enough and experienced enough to do it.

IGN: How did you make the decision about who we were going to see from the JSA, and who we were going to get hints about? Michael Shanks indicated that almost everyone's story will be hinted at.

Johns:
It was pretty interesting. We sat down and we talked about the JSA, and as soon as Hawkman came up, he was definitely someone that Brian (Kelly) had wanted to explore in Smallville. He always liked the visual of the character. This warrior with wings. 'Conan with Wings' he calls him. And then I really wanted Stargirl (Britt Irvin) in it, and I love Hawkman, so that was pretty easy.

Then there was some discussion about who would be that third character, because there was going to be three. We knew we wanted three of them. Who would be that third character? And there was...Wildcat came up. There were a lot of other characters we talked about. Who could fit that role? But ultimately we landed on Dr. Fate, who I really like, and I had an idea for him that I thought it would be fun to explore, and a take on him that was slightly different from the comic books. But that gold helmet that he wears is so visually iconic and so, I think, menacing and interesting that it became a bit of a focus for the episode as well. I guess it just kind of grew organically talking about the various characters. But that's not to say you don't see others. Sandman makes an appearance, as does the original Star-Spangled Kid.

IGN: How was it seeing Stargirl come to life, and were you involved in the casting at all?

Johns:
Yeah, I was involved in the casting, but really that was Brian (Peterson) and Kelly (Souders) leading the way. They'd bring me in and show me who they were thinking of and what was it like...they were really terrific about including me on every decision from production design to the production meetings. It was...they don't have to do that. Brian and Kelly care so much because, most freelance writers, you can ask anybody in the business...they go in, they do their show and they break their episode and then they're shunted off and they're rewritten, and they see the episode when it comes on TV. Brian and Kelly brought me in with the whole staff, who are all a lot of fun, and broke the episode. I wrote the episode, they gave me notes and we worked together. I wrote every word in it. They're very respectful about that. They brought me in for all the production design, they showed me all the effects, the rough cuts, everything. Every step of the way, they included me. And that's why I came back. Because they're so much fun to work with. I get offers to do TV, I get offers to do all sorts of stuff, but I'm very particular because I love comic books so much and the DC Universe, and I want to work in that world. But when an opportunity like this comes across, that's why I do it. To work with these kinds of people and these kinds of characters.

IGN: I was curious, if there is a Season 10, and I think fans will riot if there isn't, are you interested in coming back and writing another episode?

Johns:
All they have to do is ask. I'll be there in two seconds. The cast and the crew and everybody in Vancouver and the writing staff and writing team down here are so fantastic, there's no choice but to say yes. I'd be an idiot not to jump onto that as soon as possible. Plus, it's fun to bring another...like, what other character, what other team can I bring to live action? Do we try to do...can we have guest stars? For me, that's what the fun is. Working on a show I like and then finding a character that nobody knows, or a team that nobody knows and then introducing them to a new audience.

IGN: Would you write an episode with Jeph Loeb?

Johns:
[laughs] With Jeph Loeb?

IGN: Yeah!

Johns:
Ha! I don't know. I love Jeph. He's a great friend of mine. It would all depend on what that episode was.

IGN: Lots of fans would have heart attacks if they heard that was happening!

Johns:
Yeah, I never even considered it, but he's a very close friend of mine...I don't know what episode we'd do. It would be expensive. [laughs]

IGN: For hardcore fans... we could tell from the trailers that there would be plenty of Easter Eggs. I'm wondering if there are particular favorites of yours and little things that fans should keep their eyes out for...when they're watching this a second time on their DVRs.

Johns:
They have to watch it again. There's no way you'll catch everything. I put everything in there, and I didn't even catch it the first time I saw it. There is so much stuff in there. And the cool thing is, it's not gratuitous. It's not just a nod to have a nod. It actually helps flesh out the world and the universe and give a sense of history and add an elegance to the Justice Society of America. And a sense of loss, what they were and what they are now. It's really...every nod is very character-driven and story-driven. It's not just there to shove in more. It's not a comic collection thrown on screen. What it is, is that universe realized. So when you have that universe realized, the details matter.

IGN: Is there a particular favorite that you have?

Johns:
Jay Garrick's helmet looks pretty damn cool in that museum. But that museum is probably the best...for Easter Eggs it's probably the best Easter Egg there is. I love the sound behind Doctor Fate because in the comic books I've always...when I wrote Dr. Fate in JSA, I always envisioned that gold helmet as something magical and not just another...you don't just put it on...there's magical properties to it and it would whisper. It has this magical entity within it that would whisper to the person who was wearing it. It's kind of disturbing to stand around Dr. Fate. Doctor Fate would be a character that you're not really comfortable around. But in the comics that's really hard to get across. So doing it live action, and having the sound team kick ass together and whip it into shape and give Dr. Fate this presence, and the effects on top of that, that was just outstanding. Doctor Fate himself just visually becomes my favorite character to see realized. He's a giant Easter Egg for me. Plus everything he sees. He sees peoples' futures, so there's cool things in there. He becomes kind of a catch all for the Easter Eggs.

IGN: You talk about bringing some characters that the general public might not know about and getting them interested in comics. Hardcore comic fans know all the different story lines and incarnations, but it can be confusing for newcomers. For the new fans who see this and say, 'I want to know more about Doctor Fate and Hawkman,' where would you recommend they start?

Johns:
Well if you want to know more about Hawkman, any Hawkman trade paperback on Amazon.com or in a bookstore, Justice Society of America, The Next Age is the first volume that myself and Dale Eaglesham did when we relaunched JSA, and that's a really good starting place for the team itself. For Stargirl, there's Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. trades that are...Volumes 1 & 2 that collect her entire series that she had. That was the first thing I ever wrote in comics. And Dr. Fate...there's a Steve Gerber trade out. Steve Gerber was a very famous comic book writer...a great Doctor Fate trade that he did that reintroduces the character for the modern age. It's the descendent of the original Dr. Fate, Kent Nelson who reclaims the mantle of Fate, that's out there too. So all these characters have their own individual adventures and they're all in the JSA.

IGN: Is there a DC property that hasn't been done yet that you'd like to see on film?

Johns:
As a major film? Well they're doing Green Lantern now, which is at the top of my list...but Flash is my favorite character, period. So I'd love to see The Flash finally make the leap. And I'd love to see a Wonder Woman movie. That would be amazing. She's the most popular female superhero, and people know her. Everybody knows who Wonder Woman is. I'd love to see it as a feature film. I'd love to see Wonder Woman on the screen again.

IGN: What was it like having Tom Welling direct?

Johns:
First off, it's an honor, because Tom has been the main driving force of the show forever. It was great. He's a really incredibly smart guy. An incredibly talented guy. I've said elsewhere, he embraced this stuff head on. A lot of people will turn away from the source material or turn away from the concept, because they get frightened of comic books. Because they don't know the world. Tom jumped right in and grabbed it and really went for it. And I couldn't be more grateful or pleased with it.

IGN: Finally, you mentioned that you ordered a case of peanut butter Kit Kats on Twitter...what's the status on that?

Johns:
[laughs] They are en route. I'm kind of a candy junkie and I like the stuff you can't find anywhere. I don't know. Kit Kats are my favorite. Good writing food for those late 2 am nights.

Smallville: "Absolute Justice" airs Friday, February 5th at 8/7c on the CW.


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12 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
jeannev From: jeannev Date: February 4th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was my favorite Johns interview so far.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: February 4th, 2010 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mine, too! Of course I love what he said about Tom, but what I really like about him is the way he loves every character, and appreciates every actor. He's just happy to be a part of it all.

He has said more than once that he prefers to write for the lesser-known characters over Superman and Batman, but whatever character he's writing, I think he gives it his all. I love the way he writes Superman in the comic books, and the way he wrote Clark in Legion. I can't wait to see what he gives us in Absolute Justice!
kissme_myfool From: kissme_myfool Date: February 4th, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love how he talks about the cast. He is a stand up guy.

Can't wait for Welling's part of AJ.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: February 4th, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
He has so much enthusiasm for the show and everyone involved in it. I think that's very cool.

I love that they gave Tom such a big episode to direct. It sounds like the second half will have both action sequences and intensely emotional scenes. I can't wait to see what Tom does with it all!
tjw_jaypat From: tjw_jaypat Date: February 4th, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks again! :)

At last a nice word about Tom. So far he´s been all JH and AM... :/
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: February 4th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
He does love Justin and Allison! :)

What he said about Tom is truly touching. Obviously he respects him as a man, and as a director. It's amazing that GJ did a commentary with Richard Donner for Smallville, but I want a commentary on this episode with him and Tom.
carolandtom From: carolandtom Date: February 5th, 2010 12:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Interesting interview. I'm glad they asked him about Tom and he said something nice. Thanks a lot!

tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: February 12th, 2010 01:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad he had nice things to say about Tom, too. And Tom certainly did credit to GJ's material, both as an actor and a director.
whimsywinx From: whimsywinx Date: February 5th, 2010 02:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you're spending your day off productively. Must remember to set the VCR tomorrow.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: February 12th, 2010 01:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I still worry that I was entirely too spammy with these interviews, but I'm glad I did it. I've already referred back to several of them for information, so it's nice to have them right at my fingertips.
whimsywinx From: whimsywinx Date: February 12th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I cannot believe how many you did, either. But I referred someone to you to look for back story on the JSA because I thought I'd seen it somewhere in here.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: February 12th, 2010 03:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Really? That's so cool, I hope they found what they were looking for. I've been going back today and re-reading all the interviews; what they say takes on a whole new meaning now that I know exactly what they're talking about.
12 comments or Leave a comment