Justice League Dark: Apokolips War – Jason O'Mara Talks Batman
Jason O'Mara is no stranger to embracing superhero roles. On season four of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., he played Jeffrey Mace, the agent who obtained his superhuman abilities through a bottle and adopted the alias, The Patriot. At the same time, he became the voice of one of DC's most recognizable heroes in Batman for their Justice League animated films for Warner Bros. The versatile actor first took the role in 2014's Justice League: War. Six years and 11 films later, his journey as the Caped Crusader came full circle in the latest animated feature Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, the last of the DC Animated Movie Universe. I spoke to O'Mara about how he perfected his role.
"Initially, it was really tough, because there are so many different versions of Batman," O'Mara said. "It's hard not to be intimidated. Your favorite Batman is always going to be the one you hear inside your head. [Coming in], I was concerned that I was going to do an impression [of an existing actor's take]. I had to come up with my own take. I think being a father myself helps because it was a way in. It also helps how I approach the role." The more he played the role, the easier it got. "The last few movies were a lot easier than the first few. With Batman: Hush as a standalone movie, I was able to solidify what I was doing with the character. It got a little easier with [Apokolips War]. There's a massive twist that came with this one that I can't reveal. This movie came with its own vocal challenges."
One common thread in O'Mara's Batman roles is examining his role as Bruce Wayne, the father to Damien Wayne, a relationship previously never explored outside the comic realm until the recent films. "I try to keep my Batman as consistent as I can," he said. "Even though in Justice League Dark, you don't have much of a reference as to say Batman is the father to Damien. I still try to bring that with me. The audience knows that this Batman is a father. That's what's great about doing a story that has continuity, a build-in every movie. Everything that happens stays with the character. It's a combination of the consistency and continuity of my own performance that creates each individual unique story. Sometimes the story is standalone, like 'case of the week.' Sometimes the story will continue an emotional arc for all of the characters, not least Bruce's relationship with Damien is the heart, which for me is the heart and soul of these movies."
The Justice League, Teen Titans, and Batman films draw from DC's New 52-era comics. One of O'Mara's favorites to adapt to the screen was Hush (2019). He credits voice directors Andrea Romano and Wes Gleeson for helping his performances over the years. When he started recording as Batman, he shared the booth with co-star Stuart Allan, who played Damien/Robin to establish chemistry. O'Mara said he occasionally watches the live-action DC films but consciously veers away from emulating the performance of another Batman actor. O'Mara feels as natural in front of a microphone as he is on screen performing in voiceovers since 1997. He hasn't been as affected as other actors from the live-action production work stoppage. "What's different now is every actor has jumped onboard the voice wagon," he said. "There are no physical live-action productions going on. Every actor's like, 'I think I'll give voiceover work a shot.' So it suddenly got a lot more competitive." O'Mara will be in the upcoming Netflix animated series, Gods & Heroes, as Zeus. Justice League Dark: Apokolips War also stars Rosario Dawson, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson, Shemar Moore, Taissa Farmiga, Jerry O'Connell, John DiMaggio, Christopher Gorham, Tony Todd, and Matt Ryan. Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is available now on digital download and DVD, Blu-Ray™, Blu-Ray™ Steelbook, & Blu-Ray™ Minifig from May 18. See the trailer below.