SPOILER WARNING: The following contains spoiler's for this week's episode of "Smallville" entitled "The Bride."
Geoff Johns loves him some Legion.
DC’s superstar writer has been showcasing Clark Kent’s boyhood pals in his ongoing titles “Justice Society of America” and “Action Comics,” and is currently penning the fan favorite “Final Crisis” tie-in, “Legion of 3 Worlds” with art by the incomparable George Perez.
So who better to introduce the Legion of Super-Heroes into the “Smallville” mythos than Johns?
The writer’s highly-anticipated Legion of Super-Heroes episode of the popular CW series, first announced at Comic-Con International in July, premieres January 15, 2009 and will spin out directly from this week’s cliffhanger ending of the latest episode of “Smallville” – entitled “Bride” – in which we see Doomsday crash Chloe and Jimmy’s wedding. The last seconds show Lex Luthor hardwired to a computer and a TV monitor in an undisclosed location, watching Doomsday wreak havoc and capture Chloe.
“For those watching the season, I think it’s safe to say this is already one of the best,” Geoff Johns told CBR News. “The work they’re doing is fantastic, the ratings are going up and freaking Doomsday. Have you seen Doomsday? He’s on this week’s episode then the next one is mine.”
|Scene from "The Bride"|
Johns said the three young actors playing Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy absolutely “nailed it.” Canadian actor and singer Alexz Johnson landed the role of Saturn Girl, Calum Worthy (“Dr. Dolittle 3) lights up the screen as Lightning Lad, and Ryan Kennedy (“Blade: The Series”) completes the time traveling trio as Cosmic Boy.
“The Legionnaires did a wonderful job. They embraced the material and along with Glen embraced the lore,” said Johns. “They’re a great amalgam between ‘Smallville’ and the comic mythology. They are done in a ‘Smallville’ way but they are extremely loyal and true to core center to what the Legion is all about. And I was really blown away and ecstatic that the actors they cast could play Legionnaires so perfectly. I think they are phenomenal.
“Ryan brought the perfect amount of intensity to Cosmic Boy, similar to the intensity he current has in ‘Legion of 3 Worlds’. He really brought a humanity to Rokk too, that goes beyond the page. Ryan embodied the leader of the Legion to a tee.
“Alexz is Saturn Girl. You see her and you see Saturn Girl. Her demeanor, and the thoughtfulness that reads on her face at all times is exactly who Imra is.
|Scene from "The Bride"|
“And last but not least is Calum, who is freaking hilarious. He was probably the one closest like his character – Lightning Lad, who captured the portrayal of Lightning Lad’s early years in my head. He’s fun, energetic, exciting – literally lightning in a bottle waiting to be unleashed.”
While Johns guards the story of the episode closer than Clark Kent’s secret identity, he did offer that it would feature the “Smallville” version of young Superman’s first meeting with the Legion.
As to whether or not we can expect more Legion in the future, Johns said, “I can tell you the door is left open pretty wide for them and other Legionnaires. If there’s a Season 9, I would love to write another episode.”
Johns came to the project after coming up with a “dandy little idea” on how to introduce the Legion to “Smallville.” “I thought they would be great characters. ‘Smallville’ had been featuring Green Arrow for some time, and Black Canary and Cyborg and Bart Allen had made appearances, and since the Legion is such a big part of the Superman mythology from when he was younger, I had an idea to introduce them into the ‘Smallville’ world too,” said Johns. “I was casually talking to [former ‘Smallville’ producer] Jeph Loeb one day, who obviously knows the showrunners – Darren, Todd, Kelly and Brian – and he mentioned it to them that I had an idea for an episode.
|Ryan Kennedy plays Cosmic Boy|
“They called me up and were pretty excited to hear it. So I pitched them the idea of the Legion and how it affected Clark and what it would mean to the characters in the series. And they loved it. I spent a couple weeks in the writers’ room with them breaking the story and working on the script and then flew up for the shoot. So that’s how it all came together. It was really pretty amazing. I’ve been in Writers Rooms before, but this one was far above the most friendly and exciting to be in. Their entire staff has a lot of talent and I think that’s evident in the reaction to this season.”
Johns visited the set of “Smallville” in Vancouver for ten days during the shooting of his Legion episode. “I was working on set with the producers and the director, Glen Winter, and the actors, overseeing the script, checking in and brainstorming with executive producer Darren Swimmer, altering the script when we needed to alter it,” he explained. “We were really just trying to make it the best we could possibly make it. I watched the rough cut and I’m very, very happy.
Johns is thrilled with what he’s seen so far of the Legion episode, but can’t wait to see what the special effects team do with the Legionnaires. “The special effects and everything won’t be done for a little while since the show doesn’t air until January.”
|Calum Worthy plays Lightning Lad|
Directing the Legion episode is Glen Winter. He’s responsible for numerous episodes of the CW series, and is admired greatly by Geoff Johns, who used to work as an assistant to filmmaker Richard Donner. “[Winter is] an amazing guy. I really was impressed by him and in awe of his natural instincts and imagination,” the writer said. “I felt extremely lucky to work at his side. I told Glen it had always been a dream of mine to work with a director much the same way I watched [screenwriter] Brian Helgeland work with Richard Donner during ‘Conspiracy Theory’ and that’s what it felt like.
“One of my favorite things to do as a writer in the film and television world is like my ideal working relationship in the comic world, which is not sitting in the room alone but working with somebody,” he continued. “And whether it be Gary Frank on ‘Action Comics’ or Ivan Reis on ‘Green Lantern’ or Ethan Van Sciver on ‘The Flash,’ the idea is that I am the writer but the artists are essentially the directors. So working with a director on set like that, and seeing him bring the Legion to life. Being there to help support that vision and work on the story and the script and the dialogue and everything, is a culmination of everything I like doing. Glen made this his own. With such respect and integrity, I’d love to see Glen take on other DC characters in the television and film world.”
Johns said now that he’s played in the world of onscreen DCU, he’s eager to return. The writers confirmed he’s working on other TV and film projects, saying, “Yes, I do and getting a taste of bringing the DCU to the world of live action, I’d like to do it again.”
|Alexz Johnson plays Saturn Girl|
Legendary moviemaker Richard Donner thinks his former assistant deserves a Hollywood crack at DC’s icons too, and told the Los Angeles Times last month that he thinks Johns should write Warner Bros.’ planned Superman requel.
“Obviously, I am really flattered that Donner said that. Going from his protégé to being someone he would trust with the next Superman film means a lot to me,” said Johns. “It was really nice to hear and I was really grateful but yeah, I’d love a crack at a Superman movie. And I have ideas. I have very specific ideas for a lot of DCU heroes’ films.”
Asked point blank if his next project outside of comics was a DC property, Johns said only, “I don’t really talk about my projects until they are announced.”