This is what came next…
Extreme applause opened the Top Secret Project Panel from Valiant at NYCC 2016.
Hunter Gorinson introduced the panel with Dinesh Shamdasani and Josh Johns. Aaron Schoenke and Sean Schoenke joined them to discuss their top secret collaboration with Bat in the Sun. Shamdasani introduced fans to Valiant’s history. Gorinson said they’d be introducing an “entirely new division of the company” called Valiant Digital today.
Johns explains that this division presents Valiant off the page alongside their publishing on the page. Bat in the Sun Productions got a second massive round of applause when introduced again. Asked why they want to work with Valiant, they commended the company for being “true to their characters” in a way that enables fans to relate. They intend to take Valiant characters and “take it to the next level” to make Valiant characters “shine”. Johns added that Bat in the Sun is a perfect partner because of their commitment to “story”.
The title card for Ninjak vs The Valiant Universe was revealed to the audience. Ninjak is going to battle all of the Valiant characters with “badass action fighting”.
Regarding the plot, Shamdasani said that Ninjak is forced to steal something from MI6 and MI6 is forced to release something called “Unity” to combat this, he said.
The panelists played out the lead up to the trailer and had the audience chanting “Ninjak” in order to see it. And as viewers can now see, it is a character and action-packed extravaganza. As each character was revealed, the audience reacted by cheering their favorites, and they were pretty much all favorites.
The cast of the digital series were brought on stage to even bigger applause. The cast present included Michael Rowe, Jason David Frank, Chantelle Barry, Derek Theler, Kevin Porter, and Sierra Foster.
Talking about Ninjak’s suit, Michael Rowe explained the layers of the costume needed, which started with a “70’s disco” silver under-suit. Bat in the Sun said it took 5 or 6 people to build the suit “but it took an awesome actor to make it cool”.
Jason David Frank said this was a “different kind of role” for him being “painted up”. It takes about 2 and a half hours to apply the makeup and about 45 minutes to take it off. Once he had to drive out of LA with makeup still under his eyes and was asked if he was alright, he said.
Asked what it was like being the only villain on set, Barry said that it was fun getting to be “mean and not feel guilty about it”. Chantelle Barry said seeing herself with the makeup and hair made her feel the villain had come alive.
Derek Theler is “stoked about the suit which is going to look just like the comic book” and can’t wait for fans to see the series.
Kevin Porter “worked hard on the drinking part” of becoming Armstrong. He was asked to be 275 pounds for the part and was coming in at 230, so had to go on a diet of pizza and donuts and “suffer for the arts”. These characters are “so iconic and so beautiful” that you just “kind of play them like an instrument”, he said.
Sierra Foster was the first person to go head to head with Ninjak for the series, and as a comic book fan, was elated to get the part. A former basketball player, she had to gain 8 pounds of muscle to play Livewire.
Regarding the music for the series, Sean Schoenke is creating the score for the series, but also individual themes for each of the characters. He has to find the aspect of music that make the character “that much cooler” and plants a memory in the viewer’s mind. Each character will have a specific theme which “enhances their awesomeness”. His influences include classical music from composers like Beethoven. His compositions are going to be “real music” rather than sound effects typical of superhero and action movies these days.
Johns said that a “major theme of this project” is trying to do things that have never been done before. Creating a score like this is an example of that. It helps to set the project apart as special.
Gorinson said that Bat in the Sun is known for fight choreography and asked how they went about creating these scenes. Aaron Schoenke said that each character has a different fighting style, and went over the differences with the actors. They did a “40 beat combo one take” at one point, which they found “super exciting”, including Ninjak vs. Bloodshot.
Rowe said that when you have Frank coming at you, there’s not much acting involved, just pure reaction, to laughter from the audience.
Rowe said he started staying up all night to prepare for the part, and asked his roommate to do “random attacks” on him that “got a little out of control”. Rowe introduced his parents in the audience, who were attending their first comic con. When Rowe was a child he convinced a family friend to make him ninja stars and would wear a balaclava to throw them in the back yard, which his parents were not wild about.
Jason David Frank has been open on social media about his preparation for the part of Bloodshot. He’s read every single one of the Bloodshot books, often to consternation of other plane passengers on international flights. He likes the way that Bloodshots “brain works” with a great deal of complexity. He bought a number zero Bloodshot comic that is one of 20 in the world, a misprint platinum version. It has never been taken out of plastic. He’s recently been following Jeff Lemire’s run on the character very closely. He branched out to read the books concerning the other characters extensively.
Theler and Barry have never been to a comic con before, and have never played superheroes. Theler said it’s a bucket list checked off to be announced as a hero at New York Comic Con. Barry said this is on her vision list, too, and took a picture of the audience, and all the cast members joined in taking audience videos, to applause.
Porter and Foster trained together for their parts, they said. When Porter first saw Foster, he knew she must be Livewire. Porter has played superheroes before, and he suggested a lot of ideas for the way Livewire’s powers worked visually. Foster thanked the “legit Valiant fans” in the audience for coming out to show their support at NYCC.
Theler promised that “not a single piece of the set is going to be left standing” after his character (X-O Manowar) finishes with it, to applause.
Bat in the Sun said their “ultimate ambition” for this project is to make it “super badass”, to cheers.
Frank’s weight gain needed for the role has led to several wardrobe malfunctions, including “blowing out the zipper” on a pair of pants at comic con. He laughed that his trousers are generally very tight, but he can’t do any more kicks right now.
When audience members where they should start reading Valiant comics if they are new to the universe, Frank suggested The Valiant, which is where he started, though any number one volume is also very accessible.
The digital series is coming out in 2017 in six episodes, Gorinson confirmed. When an audience member asked how long the episodes are and how long the wait will be between episodes, Shamdasani mentioned the 15 location scope of the series and commitment to quality, and said to stay tuned for answers to these questions.
Asked why Ninjak is the starting point for these digital episodes, John said that he’s “uniquely qualified” to be at the center of this story because of his web-like connections to other characters.
The panel closed off with a sneak peek of Bloodshot footage from the show, Bloodshot was kicking some serious ass. He was shown taking a bowie knife to the face and a bullet to the head before continuing his attack, with even more astonishing special effects on his regeneration abilities.
The trailer for the digital series is premiering now, exclusively on Bat in the Sun right now.
Special thanks to Hannah Means-Shannon for help with this coverage.
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