Justin Hartley discusses voicing a Superman "driven by emotion" in DC's new animated movie.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Animation.

The road to DC FanDome begins here! In the days leading up to the second annual free virtual fan event — which returns Saturday, Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT — EW will be debuting exclusive new looks at DC Entertainment's forthcoming projects. Today, Justin Hartley takes us inside his super role in Injustice.

Justin Hartley is voicing a different kind of Superman in Injustice.

EW is debuting an exclusive clip from DC's new animated movie, which you can watch above. Inspired by both the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game and the comic Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One (written by Tom Taylor, with art from Jheremy Raapack and Mike S. Miller), the movie takes place in an alternate world where the Joker (Kevin Pollak) kidnaps Lois Lane (Laura Bailey), the love of Superman's life, and tricks him into killing her. That horrific act sends the Man of Steel flying straight into madness, and he decides to take control of Earth. This leaves Batman (Anson Mount) with no other option but to form a team of freedom fighters to stop him.

A DC universe veteran who played Green Arrow on Smallville and Aquaman in an unaired pilot, Hartley jumped at the opportunity to play this twisted version of Superman because he felt as though there was more room to play.

"Everybody always says it's tough a play a character [like Superman] that is considered perfect. He's got no flaws, and there's nothing wrong with him. I was lucky to have been blessed with a script where it's actually the opposite," says Hartley, who currently stars on NBC's This Is Us. "You see him a completely different way where he obviously is not perfect and making rash, draconian decisions about things that are going on. I think it was very interesting where they put him and how he got himself into and how he got himself out of it."

Justin Hartley attends The Creative Coalition's Seventh Annual Television Humanitarian Awards on September 18, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Justin Hartley
| Credit: Vivien Killilea/Getty

While Hartley wasn't familiar with the popular video game, the idea of a Superman who breaks bad wasn't foreign to him. "When I was on Smallville, we did that a few times, but it was never this drastic," says the actor.

Simply voicing Superman instead of playing him in live-action actually reminded Hartley of how he felt when he suited up as both Green Arrow and Aquaman for the first time. "There's a lot of insecurity when you're doing something that you're not that familiar with, and it brought up a lot of familiar feelings that have been gone for a while," he says. "I remember when I was doing Aquaman before I even did Smallville, and when I was doing Smallville at the very beginning, I was very intimidated and second-guessing myself and wasn't sure if I was right and didn't know what I was doing. You just have to sort of put all that aside and trust the fact that the people who hired you know what they're doing."

Hartley enjoyed how the movie's story allows him to play multiple sides of Superman. "I thought it was a cool idea to [not] sound like a deep baritone guy because he's doing things are a little bit out of control, and everything that he's doing is driven by emotion. So I thought, well if we humanize him in that way, there can be a lot of emotion in his voice, and he can sound a little confused," Hartley says. "Then, there are times where I would choose to make him sound a little more sinister. At the very beginning of the movie, you want him to be sort of giddy and in love. I got a lot to play with. But I just thought it would be cool to have him sound less like your classic deep voice Superman."

That being said, he's particularly in awe of his fellow actors. "Kevin Pollak is a genius. Anson Mount, that voice on him is ridiculous," he says. "Anson Mount, that is Batman! Who sounds like that? It's amazing. I feel like he should just get on Fox News, CNN and just tell everybody a bedtime story and calm everybody down, and everybody would be fine."

Directed by Matt Peters (Justice League Dark: Apokolips War) and written by Ernie Altbacker (Batman: Hush), Injustice will be released on Blu-ray and digital on Oct. 19. Catch a sneak peek at Injustice with Hartley and Injustice: Gods Among Us creative director Ed Boon at DC FanDome, Saturday at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET at DCFanDome.com.

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