Max’s Superpowered: The DC Story Filmmakers on Dispelling Myths and Finding Conflicts

John Nguyen

Max will be releasing Superpowered: The DC Story, a three-part documentary that tells the long history of the popular comic book publisher and its characters that have become household names such as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. It’s co-directed by Leslie Iwerks (“100 Years of Warner Bros.,” “The Imagineering Story”) and Mark Catalena (“Johnny Carson: King of Late Night,” “Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times”), and will be premiering on Max on Thursday, July 20, 2023.

The docuseries is narrated by Rosario Dawson and features over 60 new and archival interviews from actors, creators and executives including Greg Berlanti, Tim Burton, Lynda Carter, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, James Gunn, Patty Jenkins, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Keaton, Jim Lee, Christopher Nolan, Robert Pattinson, Christopher Reeve, Margot Robbie, Zack Snyder, Bruce Timm, Michael E. Uslan, Mark Waid, and more.

Michael Uslan, executive producer of Batman films. Photograph by Courtesy of Max/Warner Bros.

Even though it’s a documentary by Warner Bros. and DC, they gave the filmmakers permission to really dig deep and show the good and the bad events. For example, the stories of Batman co-creators Bob Kane & Bill Finger and Superman co-creators Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster are touched upon, revealing how poorly the creators were treated.

“I think we both like to find the conflict and bring it out,” Mark Catalena tells Nerd Reactor and others in a roundtable interview. “I mean that’s what a good story does. And so that was a big part of it for us. They gave us more leeway in the early stuff, but I think we did it all the way through… really just be very candid and very kind of just genuine. It was important to come from a very earnest point of view because we’re fans ourselves.”

“To us, it’s always finding what are the most controversial moments and what are the most dramatic lows,” Leslie Iwerks said. “What are the things that they may not want us to tell and why. Let’s talk about that. Warner Bros. and DC have been so great in that way. Even on the Warner Brothers 100, which we’re not talking about, they always just say, ‘Go for it.’ They trust us because we did The Imagineering Story. On The Imagineering Story, Disney had never been open and honest about some of those dramatic moments in the company’s history, and they trusted us to say, ‘Be self-reflective. Be honest. We’re all human. So what are our mistakes and how do we get out of them?’ Let other people learn from those mistakes.”

The documentary even touches on the rivalry between DC and Marvel, but the filmmakers really wanted to focus more on the artists of DC.

“So we really wanted to focus on the artists,” Iwerks said. “We didn’t really want it to feel like the competition with Marvel was going to garner the greatest results because we know a lot of that already. So to us, it was about who are the unsung heroes of DC. Who were the artists that you don’t really know about and what were their challenges?”

Lynda Carter. Photograph by Courtesy of Max/Warner Bros.

With a lot of interviews with different artists, creators, and actors, there are some favorites for the filmmakers.

“For me, it was Lynda Carter,” Iwerks revealed. “I think she was just so honest. Because I grew up on that show, it was like meeting a childhood hero, right? To me, I always love to know about people’s processes and what is it that is exciting for them, what is it that challenges them, scares them. And for Lynda, it was like, ‘I didn’t know what I was doing.’ You’ll see that in episode two. ‘But it was just trying to make this a character about goodness and always doing the right thing, but yet still has sort of a moral center but can be a little teeny edgy, not too much.’ So I enjoyed that, but you know, all the artists were so cool.”

“Take your pick,” Catalena said. “I mean, all of them. I feel like I really enjoyed talking to Gene Yang and to John Ridley. Super bright guys. Gene won a MacArthur grant. Yeah, it was great. They’re very good at explaining complicated subjects in a very simple, clean way. It’s been really successful I think because of that. But yeah, take your pick”

There is a narrative of how Batman co-creator Bob Kane didn’t give credit to Bill Finger, but Superpowered: The DC Story has some revealing archival footage.

“Now that was a big find,” Catalena exclaimed. “And that was a testament to our archive team. We worked really closely with Ben LeClear at DC, the head archivist. And it was just going through unlabeled tapes, all kinds of stuff and we came across this Comic Con in like 76 but in a hotel ballroom in New York, just completely random. And yeah, we’re like, ‘Wait a minute. This goes against the common narrative that he never gave Bill credit.’ So we’re like, ‘This is huge.’ At least for the fans, this is huge.”

“We love to dispel myths,” Iwerks said. “And I think that the footage of him actually giving Bill Credit was really powerful. And, you know, the narration sort of sets it up, if you didn’t already know.”

About Superpowerd: The DC Story

Synopsis: Narrated by Rosario Dawson, SUPERPOWERED: THE DC STORY takes an unprecedented look at the enduring and influential legacy of DC, allowing fans to rediscover the universe of characters, as well as the iconic comic book company’s origins, its evolution and its nearly nine-decade cultural impact across every artistic medium. Featuring a wealth of interviews with the industry’s most prolific creators and the actors who bring their iconic characters from the page to the screen, SUPERPOWERED: THE DC STORY reminds us that at the heart of DC are the comics – the four-color fantasies that forever spark the imagination and instill hope.

Episode Descriptions:


For over 85 years, DC has been home to a universe of iconic characters and unparalleled storytelling, but its origins began with the brilliant minds who created a Super Hero trinity: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. From survival to revival, DC navigates the birth of the sidekick, parental concerns after WWII, and a corporate takeover amid a struggle to stay current.


During a period of declining comic book sales, a bold move resets DC’s entire universe, as the company decides to also take a gamble on a new Superman movie. While rivals begin to address pressing social issues, a determined DC introduces their first Black Super Hero and breaks story boundaries under their new imprint, Vertigo Comics, with the hopes of maturing comic books into an everlasting adult art form.


Tired of being left out of the conversation, a group of diverse creators form Milestone Media to give voice to marginalized characters and stories born out of their own experiences. After more than eight decades of history, DC visionaries look toward a future that is representative of all in their ever-expanding universe.

Featuring: The docuseries features over 60 new and archival interviews with the industry’s most prolific creators, actors and executives, including: Melissa Benoist, Greg Berlanti, Tim Burton, Mike Carlin, Lynda Carter, Henry Cavill, Kaley Cuoco, Gal Gadot, Leslie Grace, James Gunn, Patty Jenkins, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Keaton, Regina King, Zoë Kravitz, Jim Lee, Zachary Levi, Damon Lindelof, Tom Mankiewicz, Jason Momoa, Christopher Nolan, Robert Pattinson, Christopher Reeve, John Ridley, Margot Robbie, Zack Snyder, Bruce Timm, Michael E. Uslan and Mark Waid, among others.