Producers Greg Weisman & Brandon Vietti Talk YOUNG JUSTICE: OUTSIDERS

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

July 31, 2019


Did you hear the news coming out of this month's San Diego Comic-Con? ‘Young Justice’ has been renewed for a 4th season, and fandom is feeling pretty darn whelmed! At the convention, we had a chance to chat with showrunners Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti, who gave us the scoop on the series' triumphant return and some behind-the-scenes insights on DC Universe's critically acclaimed 'Young Justice: Outsiders'. Here’s what they had to say!



On The Themes of the Series...


Weisman: I think one of the biggest themes for the entire series is coming of age. And growing up encompasses rebellion and it encompasses having to assert one's independence, hoping that your parents or your mentors have given you both roots and wings. We are going to always be exploring as we keep bringing in young characters. As our characters continue to grow up and get older, we continue to bring in young characters, so that it's still always 'Young Justice,' [and] revolution and rebellion is always going to be an aspect of the series.


On Embracing Diversity and Using Milestone Comics Characters...




Vietti: We're building a DC Universe show, but we also wanted to reflect the world around us and we wanted to be as diverse as possible. ]Milestone] comics creator Dwayne [McDuffie]'s work is influential on us, on the show.


Weisman: We were a huge Milestone fans.


Vietti: It's important to us to start bringing these characters in. We sit down, we look at lists of characters every season, and we're trying to weed out which ones we like and which ones fit. I think the Milestone characters fit very well in our universe and help round out the world a little bit more, and in ways that other characters in the DC Universe might not. So they've been fun for us to drop in and see how they fit into the world and then grow in our own unique way. I think all of the characters might take some steps outside of the norms that you might see in the comics while still respecting what you see in the comics. That's always been a goal, change while respecting the source material. So it's been a pleasure to work with Milestone characters to accomplish that.


On The Possibility of a Young Justice Movie...


Weisman: We'd consider a Young Justice puppet show to continue the story.


Vietti: Any medium works for us.


Weisman: Those decisions are way above our pay grade and they're not up to us but we love this universe, this Earth-16 version of the DC Universe, we love these characters, we love the people we work with on the show, and we will take any and every opportunity to keep telling stories in this setting with these characters. Keeping in mind that that's not a decision we get to make.


On Reinventing Halo...




Weisman: It starts with what was in the comics. What [writer] Mike Barr and [artist] Jim Aparo did with Halo was really interesting and then the first step for us was to say 'Okay, but how does that fit into our universe and how do we make it cohesive?' So for example, in the comics the alien entity that invades the young dead girl's body is an Aurakle. it sort of reads like Oracle, only we have a character named Oracle so we're not calling it that. And that was fine, there's nothing wrong with it. But that becomes just this added element whereas using a Mother Box was organic to our show and seemed to really fit. As we were developing Season 3, you think back three and a half years and Syrian refugees in in Europe were a huge issue, and it was something that we wanted to deal with. Obviously we were dealing with metahuman trafficking, which is a very unsubtle metaphor for human trafficking. So the notion of this young Quraci girl seemed to fit, and the dangers of metahuman trafficking and the vulnerability of a refugee like that seemed to really fit what we wanted to do with Halo and you throw Mother Box in on top of it and that became our starting point.


On Halo’s Struggle to Find Her Identity...


Vietti: The whole idea of the spirit of a Mother Box sort of reviving a dead body is obviously an incredible science-fiction idea; and we really started to break down, as we were writing her, "What is a Mother Box, what is a Father Box?" -- and how does this work when a spirit from a Mother Box comes out, goes into a dead body, and comes alive and is now informed by a biology and hormones that the technology of the Mother Box never supplied it before? It's gotta create a lot of confusion and identity issues. As we started to write it out beat by beat, it became clear Mother Box doesn't necessarily mean female. This is an alien piece of technology that we have dubbed a Mother Box. It implies female, but these are rough translations of a foreign alien device. It doesn't necessarily mean that a Mother Box is female. In going through Halo's story, these things must be occurring to her, with her new organics, with her new biology, with the hormones that are going through her. It became to me a very clear question -- is she actually female? I think this is a question that she would ask herself. And this is one that we decided to just play out in the show. Halo to me is sort of like this perfect science-fiction teenager if you will, in that she is an alien spirit waking up in a body and coming to know this body for the first time and getting echoes of what the body was like. She’s having to deal with issues, relationships, sexuality, and religion. So many of these issues are coming at her, and she is learning how to deal with them on the fly. Honestly, it's a mess. This is something I think any teenager teenager can relate to. I think adults can relate to this kind of a messy character. We wanted to embrace that, and we wanted to explore that, and we wanted to play it out over several episodes to see how she reacts to these various inputs that are coming along, and it takes a while. The season is not over yet, but I think we will progress her to a certain point that hopefully our fans will be happy with.


On Relating to the Villains...




Weisman: What we try to do is give all our characters the good, the bad, and everything in between. We give them agency. We may say this happens, how is everybody going to react to that. Vandal gathered a group of like-minded individuals. There have been changes in the lineup of the Light for various reasons. Ra's al Ghul has decided he doesn't want to be part of it anymore. But Lex and Queen Bee -- these are some of the stalwarts... Lex is a lot of fun to write. G Gordon Godfrey is a ton of fun to write.


Vietti: It is very difficult to write the villains, to have them always ahead of the heroes. We get asked sometimes what characters [we] relate to, and I tend to say it's always the villains, because I think we spend most of our time plotting ways to destroy our heroes. Hopefully we fleshed out our characters enough that they will sort of inform us how to counter the villains. Early on we wanted to make sure that the villains weren't stereotypical cartoon villains that were tripping over each other in their own greed and stuff like that. We needed them to work together and be deadly smart, like deadly cooperative, and make sure that they worked together very well. Each of their specialties complemented the other so that they could one up each other.


Weisman: There are tropes in villain teams where all the heroes really need to do a stall, because the villains will end up fighting with each other and they'll wind up destroying their own plan because they can't get along, and one of the very first things we both agreed on is that's not going to be our our villain team. They are going to get along very well. They're going to cooperate with each other. It's going to be very rare when they're at odds, and when that does happen it's going to be clear and understandable. When Sportsmaster decides he's no longer going to be the enforcer for the Light, you know exactly why it's taking place and what restitution he feels he needs. But we weren't going to just have them sort of clash against each other for no good reason.


On Using Social Media as a Form of Covert Ops...




Vietti: We're setting up Beast Boy and a social media war through his team the Outsiders against Lex specifically and Gretchen as well. It's a different kind of story for us, but it still dovetails with the covert ops stories we've done in the past. As we always try to do, it is reflective of the times.


On the Relationship the Show Has with Its Fans...


Vietti: I definitely enjoy seeing the interaction that we have with our audience as artists, as filmmakers, and as storytellers. I like what we put on screen. Obviously we don't tell every aspect of everything or we run out of screen time. This is an interesting case where the fans have sort of helped sculpt the story, you know, and until we say one way or the other which way it goes, it really is sort of an exchange with the fans that they get to put into some of the gaps we don't fill up. They put something into it.


On Reflecting the Real World...


Vietti: We've always tried to look at what's going on in the world around us and reflect what's going on in the world around us and sometimes it's a very direct way and sometimes there's a science fiction twist on it. We've always had the goal of making the show feel as realistic as possible. I mean, we try not to think that we're making a cartoon. We kind of write it and conceive it like it's a live action show and we want it. We want fans to feel that it reflects the world around them, the news stories that are going on around them, the society around them, and the people around them. We wanted to have as much diversity that reflects the world around them as possible so that people buy into the stories and the stakes involved as well.



What are your 'Young Justice' theories? Let us know in our Community!