Sunday's Ultimate Avengers Voice Actor panel at Wizard World LA began a bit late, but once inside things ran pretty smoothly. One of the largest panels (dwarfed only by the "Sam Loeb and the 26" panel from the day before), the actors' names and parts were displayed prominently in front of them. The panel consisted of:
- Dave Boat – Thor
- Andre Ware – Nick Fury
- Nolan North – Giant Man
- Grey DeLisle – The Wasp
- Fred Tatasciore – Hulk
- Mark Worden – Iron Man
- Jeffrey Sams – Black Panther (new for "Ultimate Avengers 2")
- Craig Kyle from Marvel
The panel was asked some general questions about what it was like working on "Ultimate Avengers," then the audience was treated to a short preview from the upcoming "Ultimate Avengers 2," and finally the floor was opened for a brief Q&A.
When asked what was different about working on this project, many of the panelists remarked that it was their first animated feature film. Dave Boat (Thor) noted, "it was completely enjoyable the entire time, which, I guess makes it different."
There were a few longtime comic fans on the panel. Andre (Nick Fury) said, "Growing up a comic book fan, especially, Marvel, it was a blast." For him, it was also more interesting than the video game voice-over work he normally does; it allowed him to really sink his teeth into and digest the character.
Grey DeLisle (Wasp), was "so honored," and "all her comic geek friends were excited." She also noted that it was interesting to use her normal voice for the character after doing so many characters in cartoons.
Fred (The Hulk) was also excited at "using me own voice." Once the laughter calmed down, he added, "it was great being a superhero that I've been into since I was a kid, and it was neat to work with a big group like this."
Marc (Iron Man) really enjoyed the opportunity "to play two different characters," referring to the differences in personality between Tony Stark in and out of the Iron Man suit.
Jeffrey Sams will be "appearing" in "Ultimate Avengers 2" as Black Panther. It was his first time ever doing voice-over work, and according to him, "an honor and a privilege." "I was a Marvel geek, I grew up reading superhero comics and watching superhero shows, the chance to do this is crazy. I have a son that's 6, and every day he's asking 'when's the movie coming out?'"
At this point, Craig Kyle pointed out the writer for "Ultimate Avengers," Greg Johnson, in the audience with his daughter, which brought a round of applause. He also noted that Marvel "wanted to do something closer to the book. It was very exciting to get this kind of talent on a project that was so important to us."
Asked about some of the difficulties of animation vs. live action projects, Jeff explained that it's all about the action you do with your voice. For Black Panther, he also "did a bit of a fictional dialect," and "trying to keep a consistent fictional accent was difficult."
"I just miss putting on my makeup." Nolan joked, "But actually, I did wear make up for Giant Man. Not for Hank Pym, that would be weird, but for Giant Man, it was something to make me feel pretty."
Andre was asked what some of the stuff he collected growing up was, "I was a huge Iron Man fan and my brother was a Thor fan." They always admired the "camaraderie" those two characters had in "The Avengers." Also a big Silver Surfer fan, he and hid friends would play, "running around the fields. I was Iron Man, shooting my repulsors at everybody (which were rocks)."
Asked if Hulk was the character he was born to play, Fred laughed, "I was into that character, I never thought about playing it or that it was a possibility."
Grey DeLisle explained that in a lot of sessions, her co-workers, specifically Tom Kenny (voice of Spongebob Squarepants) and Phil LaMarr, are "huge comic geeks." They'll do their dialogue, then go back to reading until their next part. She also "loved sci-fi" as a girl, and wanted to be Darth Vader when she and her friends played Star Wars. She was always stuck playing Leia.
Dave was really into the original "Avengers" animated series, and now playing Thor, "I'm a god to my nephew and his friends."
Marc really "didn't have a lot of knowledge of the character (Tony Stark)," but his brother-in-law, is a big character artist and "sent me a bunch of comics and filled in the history of who this guy is."
The next question was: What did you guys each enjoy most about your character?
Nolan ran home when he found out and said to his wife, "I'm Giant Man!" His wife replied, "you wish." But in all honesty, he was thrilled "to be part of something that has so much history." When he was young, he wanted to be Spider Man and broke his arm. He moved on to Superman and broke his ankle. "To be a superhero in the first Marvel movie and not break anything was an experience."
"The six pack, which I never had." said Dave, "and hair, my god, I never had hair like that, at least not purchased."
Grey took a moment to recognize the original choice to play Nick Fury. "The really sad part about all this, and I don't know if I should say this, but the original guy who played Nick Fury was so into this, more than anyone, but only lasted a few hours. He got tongue-tied."
Some asked Grey her favorite part of playing the Wasp, and Nolan quickly replied, "Giant man!"
"She's so tiny it's torture!" But after the laughter, she did go into her deeper motivation, "I love playing tortured roles," she described her take on the Wasp's very complicated relationship with Hank Pym. "I had to play her really strong, and couldn't lapse into a 'weak girl' character." She had to keep the compassion of the character while staying strong.
Is there anything not cool about playing the Hulk? "No," replied Fred, "This is psychotic rage and this guy who's been transformed, as he's going one guy to the other turning into this thing. Exploring the other side of the Hulk even as a monster. There's a sensitive side, even when he's killing people. He's like a child."
Craig Kyle cut him off here to preview a scene from "Ultimate Avengers 2." The Avengers are in Black Panther's homeland of Wakanda, looking for information on the Chitauri (the Skrulls in the Ultimate Universe). Captain America holds a grudge against Kleiser, their leader, for killing one of his men in World War 2, and Black Panther's father was murdered by the same man/alien. It becomes quickly apparent that the Avengers are not welcome, and a battle breaks out with the native Wakandans, who rip the Avengers a new one. Meanwhile, Thor consults his father about a vision he's had, and then defies his wishes to go help the Avengers.
The animation was "not final," but it still looked pretty darn spiffy.
Craig then opened the floor to questions.
The combined credits of the panelists ranged widely, but nearly all had worked in video games voice-over at some point. Many of them have done on-camera work in either commercials, TV or movies.
Dave Boat is going to play a character on the Nickelodeon animated "Danny Phantom" soon. Nolan has done voice work for "Call of Duty 2" and "God of War," and also does a lot of ADR work for various well-known actors, especially Christopher Walken. Grey does a lot of work on cartoons, Padme in "Clone Wars" and has several recurring roles on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon shows. Fred's also done a lot of cartoons, "Family Guy," "American Dad," and "Invader Zim," among them.
Jeffrey's background is musical theater and on-camera work. He was in the Tony-nominated "Five Guys Named Moe" on Broadway, and "Fly By Night," which won a trophy award at Sundance. He's also had roles on "CSI," "Law & Order," and many unaired pilot episodes. But, for him, this was his most exciting work. "Comics were how I learned to read."
All agreed that watching their voices translate to the finished work is awesome. "It's like magic," according to Fred.
The last question for the panel was about how many voices they each had? Grey had some great advice for aspiring voice actors: make sure you show off your talents, use several different voices, and play against type. "It's a money thing for them," she said, because "they get three voices for one price" from an actor, and if you show you're flexible, you have a better chance of landing a part.
Nolan has a unique way of figuring out what voice to use. "You usually get pictures of who you're playing" so, "I run it by my 6 year old and we play with it."
CBR's coverage of Wizard World Los Angeles is Sponsored by Comics Unlimited.