Netflix’s Guardians of Justice Creator Adi Shankar Explains the Series’ Origins


Netflix debuted Guardians of Justice, a new superhero/social satire from the mind of Bootleg Universe creator Adi Shankar. While Shankar has produced hits like Dredd, Netflix’s animated series Castlevania or the infamous Bootleg Universe shorts (Punisher: Dirty Laundry, Venom: Truth in Journalism, Power/Rangers), Guardians of Justice marks Shankar’s first time goes behind the camera to direct his own vision. Adi Shankar sat down with and ComicBook Nation host Kofi Outlaw to talk Guardians of Justice – starting with what inspired this wild new series and its unique format.

Watch Netflix‘s Guardians of Justice Trailer

One of the clearest inspirations for Guardians of Justice is undoubtedly the era of cult 80s/90s genre films that the kids of those decades all grew up on. From films like Ladyhawke, The Sword and the Sorcerer to early attempts at superhero blockbusters (Masters of the Universe, Punisher, Fantastic Four) – to hit video games like Double Dragon or Final Fight – Shankar clearly knows each of them. . So what drove him to try and pull it all together in one show?

“That’s how my mind works – that’s not even how my mind works,” Shankar explains. “That’s how my memories work. So if I remember something that happened to me two or three years ago, I don’t feel like I have a consistent tone. All of Suddenly it’ll be super bombastic! A cartoon! Then it’ll seem dark and dramatic! Then all of a sudden it’ll start to sound like “Looney Tunes”.

So with this project, I was really trying to show what it’s like to exist in my head. And how I deal with reality. And that was definitely a challenge.”

You have to see Guardians of Justice to really understand what Shankar is describing: the vintage-looking superhero show takes its “Bootleg Justice League” on a mystery to solve their “Superman murder”; the sequences go from live action to animation to clay and even go to a video game reality where the action sequences are narrated by a Mortal Kombat-style officer, and the fighters all have health point bars above their heads. It’s an eclectic collection of genre tales and Shankar says it was a definite puzzle to unravel in the process:

“The live action stuff was a challenge because even though the show is at least 50% live, it’s a live cartoon. So I had to amp up the actors to make their performance match the aspects cartoon character of it so everything would happen seamlessly we had live action, 2d animation, 3d animation, pixel art, playdough, just a litany , and in each of those we had different styles and tones, so it was also a challenge, but a cool challenge, like taking the opportunity to learn how to conduct through all of those mediums. I’ve never done that either.”

To collect all these different formats in one place and drop so many geek culture easter eggs, Shankar reveals that he literally had to keep a list to keep track of it all:

“So before I even took an image, I had a list of different mediums that I wanted to use. So that was there from day one. And in fact, there are mediums that I didn’t end up use: I thought it would be cool to do a sequence in a video game engine, it didn’t end up doing that – so yeah, the media list was there.

As for the actual references, I just wanted to feel it while I was doing it. And part of it was in office. So the video game fight announcer guy – eg. In my mind, there would always have been a fight announcer who would say ‘Fight!’ or ‘KO!’ “Boss Battle!” But then I was like, ‘Is this really going to work in the edit??? Maybe I should keep some of that to myself!'”

Ultimately, Guardians of Justice retains its combat announcer – along with many other geek-inspired ideas that Shankar chose to run with. You can stream the series on Netflix now – be sure to check out more of our interviews with Adi Shankar about this series, and the many other great projects Bootleg Universe has in the works.


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