Cinema's first out gay superhero Surge is flying onto the small screen, thanks to creator Vincent J. Roth.
Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel follows the story of Surge battling the Metal Master in Big City. Stars from the past have joined this case, including Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols and Robert Picardo, comedian Bruce Vilanch, Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno, The Exorcist's Linda Blair and Buck Rogers Gil Gerard.
Roth, who is openly gay, is an attorney by day and superhero at night.
Windy City Times: Where are you from, originally?
Vincent J. Roth: Philadelphia. I moved to southern California almost 20 years ago.
WCT: Were you always into superheroes growing up?
VJR: I was, ever since the Super Friends cartoon.
WCT: How cool was it to have Shannon Farnon from the show be in your movie?
VJR: I really wanted a personality to be the car. Originally, it was going to be Majel Barrett, who was Gene Roddenberry's wife from Star Trek, but she passed away.
It was great to have the voice of cartoon Wonder Woman do the part.
WCT: What was your favorite comic?
VJR: Justice League of America, which is what the Super Friends was based off of. I remember buying my first issue #171 of the Justice League, when they met with the Justice Society. I started picking up more comics after that, like Teen Titans.
WCT: When did you first make these films?
VJR: The first one was over a decade ago. We finished it in 2004. It was screened in film festivals and conventions. Similar to this one we did a limited theatrical release in 2006.
WCT: When creating it, did you want a gay character in the beginning?
VJR: The first film was a spoof on the superhero genre. I certainly wanted to add some gay subtext to the heroes. If I was going to put this effort into creating something of my own I wanted it to be a gay character.
Gay characters started showing up in comics but not in live action. Since we were going with a comedy platform we thought that it would work. Will & Grace is a perfect example of that with gay characters and a humor setting that mainstream audiences find appealing. The campy flavor from the Adam West Batman show was what I wanted.
WCT: Describe the plot of Revenge of the Sequel.
VJR: The first one was an origin story, but fans from the first film wanted to see more about the villain. That seems prevalent in many stories. People want to know why the villain is bad. We expanded on the villain side. It is an exploration of his evil side. He turns bad because of his homophobic parents, played by Linda Blair and Gil Gerard.
Even though we have campy fun with things Surge is doing, the story is really exploring a level of homophobia and how that can damage relationships. I hope the message of acceptance and tolerance comes through.
The plot is fun where a big bad guy steps in to capitalize on the Metal Master's struggle with his family. He sends him on an errand for some mysterious crystals for a nefarious plan he has.
WCT: Was it hard to contact the stars?
VJR: No. The first movie has 20 celebrities in it. Some of the featured ones such as Nichelle Nichols returns. With Lou Ferrigno, I just went up to him at a comic convention and told him about the movie. I asked him to be in it. He rummaged around and pulled out a green business card! [Both laugh.]
WCT: Were there any divas in the cast?
VJR: There definitely were. Shooting with Linda Blair and Gil Gerard was particularly challenging. Gil took a shine to the director but to me, as a producer, he didn't. In his mind he was creating art with the director but I was just a means to an end. I was on his blacklist even though I was writing the checks.
Linda took a shine to me, but didn't get along with the director.
Between the two of them there was a struggle. Thankfully, I had them both assigned their own assistant.
Even though it was tough, they did a beautiful job. It all came together. They really sold it.
WCT: Eric Roberts was very good in the movie.
VJR: He won an award for Best Villain at a film festival in Vegas called Action on Film, out of 600 movies.
WCT: Will there be a sequel to the sequel?
VJR: It does build up to that. We have a web series called Surge of Power: Big City Chronicles. The second season just kicked off. We are exploring a lot of the background on some of the stars. We have a council of super villains that all played superheroes. We have a mini-adventure with Surge that is a Doctor Who tribute with some cameos from the show.
WCT: Is there a dream person you want to work with?
VJR: Lynda Carter would be my dream star to work with. They had tried to get her in the Wonder Woman movie, but couldn'tso what chance would I have?
Adam West was also one of them, but recently passed away. It was frustrating because I had been talking to his manager for film number three. We have already shot a few scenes with Nichelle Nichols for the third film and Big City Chronicles.
A lot of it is timing. If they are in another film or TV series then I can't get them even if they are open to it. It is because of their contracts.
WCT: Plans to go to comic conventions?
VJR: I will probably do San Diego Comic-Con since it is right by me. I am close with the folk at Salt Lake City for their comic con. I meet a lot of celebrities there!
Visit SurgeofPower.org for behind the scene footage and more information. Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel is on Blu-Ray.