Superheroes, monsters and teenage angst. It’s a fun combination, resulting in an exciting—and very different—all-new superhero adventure. In DC’s newest animated film, the world of Rooster Teeth’s popular RWBY has joined forces with the greatest heroes of the DC Universe for a thrilling fantasy that combines the best of both worlds. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One has something for everyone, whether they’re a fan of RWBY, the Justice League or both.
If you’re not familiar with RWBY, the franchise follows a group of young monster hunters known as Huntsmen (a gender-neutral title) on the world of Remnant, a realm of fantasy and adventure. The story follows Ruby Rose and her friends as they tap into a mystical power source known as Dust to defend their home. RWBY began as an animated web series by Rooster Teeth in 2013 and has since gone on to spawn comic book spin-offs, video games and more.
If any of this confuses you, then don’t worry. The team behind Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One made sure the movie was accessible to everyone.
“We wanted to do justice to everybody,” director Kerry Shawcross says. “If you’re a RWBY fan, we want you to watch this movie and go, ‘Wow, this is a really fun RWBY story!’ If you’re a DC fan, we want you to go, ‘Wow, this is a fun DC Universe story!’”
This meant trying to find the perfect balance between the two worlds, which are very different on the surface and came with no shortage of unique challenges.
“There are fourteen characters in this movie, which was its own sort of journey and struggle,” admits screenwriter Meghan Fitzmartin. “I sat down with it, and I looked at it. Whenever there are large groups like this, you almost want to send people off in groups and that ended up giving me a lot of space to play.”
“Having Meghan, who is very familiar with the DC Universe, come in and write it was essential,” recalls Shawcross. “It made sure that we could be true to both franchises. So many members of our (RWBY) staff are also DC fans.”
The film begins with the Justice League finding themselves in Remnant, but there’s a twist—all of the DC heroes have been de-aged to teenagers. The 2021 crossover comic book series RWBY/Justice League, which served as the inspiration for this film, also featured younger versions of the heroes. However, the movie integrates the de-aging into the plot.
“Part of the reason we start with everybody as teenagers is to help us ease into that middle ground,” Fitzmartin explains. “One of my favorite episodes of Justice League Unlimited has the Justice League turned into eight-year-olds, so I was pulling a lot from that to put into this. It gives it more of an equal playing field and an equal tone.”
Transforming the League into teenagers also gave the actors a chance to have some fun.
“I definitely got to tap into my quirk,” shares David Erigo Jr., who voices the Flash. “I’m a little bit of a fast talker anyway, so I tried to lean into that where I could in the script. He’s processing at a rate that is so beyond us. Sometimes he still lets his mouth run away from him.”
Natalie Alyn Lind enjoyed getting to explore a teenage version of Wonder Woman.
“In this you see a more vulnerable side to her, which shows in her powers as well,” she explains. “There is awkwardness throughout the character in this one.”
Some DC fans might remember Lind from her role as Silver St. Cloud in the television series Gotham. Although she’s no stranger to acting, Justice League x RWBY was Lind’s first voice role.
“It is scary taking on a character like Wonder Woman, who was pretty much the first recognizable female superhero back in 1941,” she acknowledges. “Having that character be so iconic and played by some of the most badass actresses I’ve ever seen, it was really cool.”
In contrast, Jeannie Tirado was not familiar with Jessica Cruz before voicing her.
“I thought I knew Green Lantern, but it was just the Ryan Reynolds movie,” she admits. “I’ve heard all day that we don’t count that. I didn’t know much about Green Lantern or Jessica. It was really great recording it and finding out that she’s a superhero, but she isn’t like any of the others. I love it.”
As she read more about Jessica’s backstory, Tirado found herself more drawn to the character.
“Her anxiety goes through the roof in this movie,” she says. “I enjoyed voicing the vulnerable aspects of her and the raw aspects of her. It’s almost very anti-hero. There is a lot of stuttering and a lot of uncertainty in the voice.”
As for the RWBY cast, they couldn’t have been more excited about playing in the DC sandbox.
“I would have never in my entire life thought that I'd be doing something with such iconic characters,” Arryn Zech (who plays Blake in the RWBY franchise) shares. “Wonder Woman was my first Halloween costume. I used to watch it with my mom. It's just been a kind of crazy incredible experience to be in this just at all."
Lindsay Jones, who’s played team-leader Ruby since the beginning of the RWBY franchise, has some interesting thoughts about why the two universes work so well together.
“I think with the RWBYverse, so much of the appeal to the show is this diversity of characters and their backgrounds and their future, their journey that they're on,” she muses. “So, it's just amplifying that with the DC characters. Now you have these characters that we're familiar with, we've known them for a very long time, but they're in a completely new setting. It's the same, yet different. It's all the things that you love and are familiar with on a new journey.”
Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One is now available to buy digitally and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DC.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.