‘Dark Knight Returns’: Mark Valley talks Superman, ‘Human Target’

Jan. 28, 2013 | 7:00 a.m.

Mark Valley in a recording session for DC's animated film "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2." Valley voices Clark Kent in the film. (Gary Miereanu)

Mark Valley voices Superman in "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2." (Warner Bros.)

Mark Valley plays Christopher Chance, a private contractor hired to protect his clients from dangerous threats, in the short-lived action series "Human Target." (David Gray / Fox)

"Body of Proof" actors Mark Valley, left, and Dana Delany speak during the Winter TCA Tour in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 10, 2013. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

Peter Weller voices Batman in "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2." (Warner Bros.)

Michael Emerson voices the Joker in "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2." (Warner Bros.)

David Selby voices Commissioner Gordon in "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2." (Warner Bros.)

Mark Valley voices Superman in "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2." (Warner Bros.)

Michael McKean voices the Joker's doctor, Bartholomew Wolper, in "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2." (Warner Bros.)

Conan O'Brien voices talk show host David Endocrine, right, in a scene from "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2." (Warner Bros.)

Frank Miller’s genre-shaking graphic novel “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” is getting the movie treatment. The second installment in the two-part animated adaptation premieres Monday evening at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills.

The premiere includes a panel discussion moderated by filmmaker and geek personality Kevin Smith, featuring director Jay Oliva, dialogue director Andrea Romano, executive producer Bruce Timm and screenwriter Bob Goodman. The panel will be live streamed from PaleyCenter.org beginning at approximately 8:30 p.m.

The film — which doesn’t stray far from Miller’s classic 1986 story — features the voice talent of Peter Weller (“Robocop,” “Dexter”) as a time-worn (and probably psychopathic) Bruce Wayne who becomes so disturbed by Gotham’s worsening crime that he decides to come out of retirement against the wishes of local and national government. The president turns to none other than Superman to intervene, and Clark Kent is sent to put his former friend back in his place.

Superman is voiced by Mark Valley, a prolific television actor best known for his work in “Boston Legal” and the short-lived but much-beloved series “Human Target.” Hero Complex caught up with Valley to talk about “The Dark Knight Returns,” “Human Target” and his work on the upcoming season of “Body of Proof.”

HC: How’d you get involved with this project?

MV: My agent just called me and said it was something they were interested in, that the producers had approached them. So yeah, I just went in and did it.

HC: Why do you think you won the role of Superman?

MV: I don’t really know. Actually, you know what, I used to wear Clark Kent glasses, ever since I was in college. I used to have those Army-issue glasses, and they used to be those black glasses Clark Kent used to wear. And I wore those for years. I think someone must have seen me wearing those at one time.

HC: Are you a comic book fan?

MV: I used to love reading them when I was kid. I don’t read them much now anymore, though I loved them when I was a kid.

HC: So were you familiar with the Frank Miller book on which these films were based?

MV: No, and this is like the classic one. I just remember reading the ones that were on the magazine stand when I was a kid, but this is a classic story. I really wasn’t even aware that Batman and Superman had this kind of grudging friendship.

HC: Then you must have been quite surprised to see Superman being a yes-man for the president in this story.

MV: I was. I never really thought of — I mean, you always think of Superman as kind of working on his own, but seeing him as kind of an agent like that is a little bit of surprise.

HC: It’s a dark story for Superman, facing that nuke. 

MV: He’s pretty skinny, isn’t he? Especially on that field, he just withers right away to nothing. It’s very scary, that little section.

HC: How would you describe that relationship between Superman and Batman?

MV: Contemptuous. Yeah, I think it’s one of those funny things — sometimes you’re not really friends with somebody until you’ve gotten into a good fight, and I think that’s the situation with Superman and Batman.

HC: You have had some history with voice acting.

MV: I did the voice of Cyclops on “Shrek the Third.” I don’t know how I got that. They said they wanted a Michael Chiklis type, and apparently it came down to me and Michael Chiklis, so how they gave it to me, I don’t know. I haven’t done much voice-over work, but I enjoy it. I’m hoping to do more in the future.

HC: For “Dark Knight Returns,” were you able to record with the other voice actors?

MV: Separately.

HC: Did you find it difficult to act with no one to play off of?

MV: You know, it’s funny, most auditions are like that. Someone’s just reading the other lines, and you’re going ahead. It’s amazing, a lot of times when we do scenes on TV shows that I have been on, if there’s a phone scene, you might not necessarily be reading with the other actor on the other end of the phone. And it’s interesting how sometimes they kind of mesh together even though the actors aren’t actually together.

HC: What do you have to do differently acting for a voice part versus live-action?

MV: One of the things that I’m realizing is that in voice-over work, you have to actually do more work with your facial muscles and your mouth. You have to kind of exaggerate your pronunciation a little bit more, whereas with live action, you can get away with mumbling sometimes. It doesn’t work with voice-over. And you have to be careful with your S’s and your P’s, because if you say “Ppp,” it just pops on the microphone. So you have to kind of soften your P’s and your S’s so it doesn’t sound like a snake.

HC: You’ve had quite a prolific television career — “Harry’s Law,” “Human Target,” “Boston Legal,” “Fringe.” Which show has been your favorite to work on?

MV: I’d have to say “Human Target.” That was a lot of fun. There was so much moving around and action and running around and doing things. I learned quite a bit on that show, as well.

HC: “Human Target” was also based on a comic and its fans are still so devoted. Why do think that is?

MV: It’s a fun show. Good people, good stories, a lot of action. And it was a lot of fun to make. I think with the show now on DVD, it allows people to spread the word and watch the show again. We’re actually getting new fans that are watching it for the first time. I’ll get little messages on Twitter saying, “Hey, I watched Human Target. Is there going to be a Season 3?” And I want to say, “Sorry, but no.”

HC: There’s no chance it will return someday? People love it…

MV: Oh, absolutely not. But you know, you never know. Stranger things have happened.

HC: If by some crazy twist of fate, “Human Target” did come back, would you be down?

MV: Oh wow, that’s a question there. Oh my heck, yeah. I’d love to do “Human Target” again. It’d be fun. It’s one of those things that I’d probably do every show that I did one more season just for the heck of it.

"Body of Proof" actors Mark Valley, left, and Dana Delany speak during the Winter TCA Tour in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 10, 2013. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

“Body of Proof” actors Mark Valley, left, and Dana Delany speak during the Winter TCA Tour in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 10, 2013. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

HC: And now you have “Body of Proof.” Season 3 premieres Feb. 19. What can you tell us about it?

MV: Apparently the show’s changed quite a bit from the first and second seasons. They brought in myself and ["Game of Thrones" actor] Elyes Gabel, and we play these two cops. And I’m trying to win Megan (Dana Delany) back from a previous relationship that we’d had. So there’s a lot more action, our stories are bigger. The third season is pretty exciting and fun to shoot as well.

HC: What’s next for you?

MV: I just finished up Season 3 of “Body of Proof,” and right now I’m just going to take it easy. I’m just visiting some friends in Germany. I might do an episode of a German television show over here. They have a show that’s sort of like their “CSI.” It’s called “SOKO Stuttgart.” So I might do a guest spot on one of those shows.

– Noelene Clark


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3 Responses to ‘Dark Knight Returns’: Mark Valley talks Superman, ‘Human Target’

  1. Steve says:

    He should have played Captain America in the Marvel movies.

  2. thhatfield says:

    Wish you would have mentioned Keen Eddie. Loved that show, and would love to hear Mark's comments on it.

  3. Martha says:

    I am a Jack Reacher fan and as I read the books , Jack Reacher speaks and looks the same as Mark Valley.

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