80s nostalgia is here in a very big way. Many shows and movies are bringing back the decade responsible for hair metal and spandex biker shorts. Netflix is no different. Shows like Stranger Things take place in the 80s and exploit a lot of what people loved about that decade. But Voltron: Legendary Defender is actually building on one of the most beloved cartoon legacies from that decade, propelling it into the future. Executive Producers Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery are two of the biggest people that Voltron fans need to thank for that.
Netflix revived Voltron in the form of Legendary Defender last year and it was met with a tremendously positive response from fans and critics. As such, Netflix started pumping out episodes with the streaming service recently dropping Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 4. Unlike through more traditional channels, they aren't going to make us wait long for more episodes, either. Voltron: Legendary Defender season 5, like all Netflix shows, will be available to binge soon enough.
Voltron upped the stakes in Legendar Defender Season 3. Last season picked up in the wake of Zarkon's defeat and Shiro's disappearance, as the paladins struggle to move forward with no one able to pilot the black lion or the ability to form Voltron. That is a big problem, especially when your show is called Voltron. With the ascension of Prince Lotor and his generals, the team is roped into a game of cat-and-mouse that tests their unity and abilities more than ever before. Season 4 is dealing with the fallout from those events and should up the ante yet again heading into season 5.
The original Voltron series is sacred ground for many people who grew up in the 80s. As it turns out, both Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery are a couple of those people and they care about it just as much as the fans do. That is part of the reason why their take on Voltron: Legendary Defender seems to be working so well for both the new generation who is discovering it for the first time, and for those who have loved it from the beginning.
I had the chance to chat with Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery. We talked about Voltron: Legendary Defender season 3 and 4, what to expect from future seasons and their desire to tackle a Robotech series in the future. Without further adieu, here's my conversation with the executive producers of Netflix's Voltron: Legendary Defender.
So the third season is out. Are you feeling a little more settled in now that you're heading into the third season?
Joaquim Dos Santos: Yeah. I mean, it feels good.
Lauren Montgomery: Yeah. I think a lot of the opinions I've seen so far have been positive. I might just be looking at biased areas. I don't know. I haven't seen anyone raging out about it yet. So we're pretty happy.
Joaquim: Yeah. It was a big break between second [season] and third [season] so it's nice to finally have it out there.
Voltron so far has been one of those things that from an outsider's perspective seems to be almost universally positive. How has it been for you guys to work on something that people felt a lot of nostalgic love for, but you guys have managed to bring back in a way that people seem to really be responding to?
Joaquim: I will say before we jump into answering the question proper, it does feel good to hear from an outside perspective that that's the vibe you're getting because we're often times so insulated here. We've watched so many episodes so many times through, we don't know what we're looking at sometimes. We just know that it's something that we'd want to see. But with regards to I guess, getting positive reaction, we feel great about it.
Lauren: Yeah I think it was one of the things that we felt strongly about, we're fans of the original, so we wanted to include the original fans. We didn't want to just make a new show for only a new audience. We wanted to kind of pay reverence and homage to the original and hopefully have the original fans accept this show as well. We were really thrilled when so many of the original fans kind of just opened their arms and opened their hearts to this version. It made us feel great because, being the fans that we are, we felt like those were our people. We didn't want to do them wrong. But it's also been so incredible that it's been so widely accepted by a huge crowd that had zero experience with the original. So, we really got the best of both worlds and we're just so appreciative of it.
Joaquim: I will say, one cool side note is seeing the younger generation of kids that didn't grow up with the original series having since gone back and watched the original because of our show and seeing like, "Oh! They were able to take elements of this and work it into this story." That's been kind of fun seeing kids reverse engineer into the original show.
That's super cool. That sort of feels like what happened with Star Wars where a bunch of young kids now kind of got into The Force Awakens and then that sorta was their entry way into the older stuff. That's really cool
Voltron was an enormous thing in the 80s and there's been this, especially on Netflix with shows like Stranger Things, there's this enormous 80s nostalgia push now. I would argue that the Voltron series is a pretty big part of that right now. How do you guys kind of feel about being a part of that wave of stuff right now?
Joaquim: I mean, I still for all intents and purposes still live in the 80s. So it's not nostalgia to me. It's just a way of life. It's super cool. I think it's cool to be a part of that movement, but at the same time, you know, sort of carve our own path. Like you said, maybe get a generation of fans that weren't necessarily tied to the nostalgia of it. We're just happy to be included in all of that stuff. You know, I think nostalgia is one of the most powerful forces in the universe to be honest with you. So if we can in any way draft off of nostalgia we're super happy to do it.
I would agree with that sentiment about nostalgia. It's a powerful thing.
This season, if I'm not mistaken, is only seven episodes. So what was the reasoning behind doing a shorter season for this one?
Lauren: You know, it's just something that kind of happened way above our heads. There are people who strategize and figure out what's the best way to kind of get this stuff out to the fans, and I think they ultimately made the decision and then they, of course, came to us and brought it to us and we were down with it. But the idea was to get episodes to the fans more often and therefore a little more quickly, but maybe just in smaller does. And it just allows for fans to have more Voltron experience all year round as opposed to going for such large gaps between season drops. And it's fun for us because I guess we kinda get to see the fans digest digest it in smaller portions.
Joaquim: We get feedback more regularly, versus a big, giant grouping of feedback and then everything kind of going dark for a little while. .
That makes sense though because a lot of that has to do with Netflix. Because it's not like traditional television where you're dropping an episode a week and sort of getting constant feedback. You're dropping an entire season. And then I guess from a creator's standpoint, maybe that's a little stressful because you're like, "Wow. We did this whole season with literally no feedback." At the same time, people seem to really like working for Netflix, maybe for that reason. From a creator's standpoint, how is that?
Joaquim: Well, I mean, the funny thing about animation, and I've said it in a couple interviews before, we're done so far ahead of when it releases just because of the time frame. We don't, there's no real chance to course correct or listen to people's opinions and then make corrections like, mid-season or through the season as it's airing. But I think with the advent of, you know, a platform like Netflix, it gets a little, I don't know, not misleading. But it's misleading almost as a creator because you can binge pretty much an entire 13-episode season in like...
Lauren: In a day.
Joaquim: In a day! So then you're sort of massive infusion of all these fan theories and what they like and all of this chatter online. And then it dies down really quickly. Versus, you know, when you're on a more traditional platform where you're doling out that episode by episode every week and kind of stringing people along. So I think this is kind of a happy medium between that. And luckily enough, you know, like Lauren said, Dreamworks is nice enough to bring is into some of the decision making on this stuff and if we have a very creative, artistic reason for maybe why it shouldn't be done, they're totally receptive to hearing that. Once we heard this pitch from them we were like, "You know, this actually makes a lot of sense." So we were really excited about it.
When you only do seven episodes, do you kind of approach it differently? Do you look at it like, "Okay. We're just going to make a season feel like a long movie this time." Or does it kind of just feel like the same thing with less episodes?
Lauren: Well, for us this decision came much too late for us to do any changes story wise. We've just been making this show as a serialized show with serialized story and ark and going where we want it to go, thinking somewhat to season breaks. But this new approach of like, splitting into smaller seasons, it was done kinda way after the fact. We had already made basically a 13-episode season and then we had to break it into two parts. And so all we really had to do was just find that breaking point in the season where it felt like you could end a season and it wouldn't feel like it just kind of stopped in the middle. So yeah, it didn't really affect our approach to how we made the show because we didn't really know we were going to be making a seven episode season.
Since you guys work on Voltron right now, and that seems to be your focus for sure, are there any other classic shows from your childhood or just stuff that you looked at and you were like, "Oh man! This would be super cool to tackle now that I've had this experience!" Is there anything else you've thought about taking on?
Lauren: For sure.
Joaquim: Yeah. I mean, there's almost too many to rattle off. We've definitely got some ones that are higher up on the list.
Lauren: I think Robotech is pretty high on the list.
Joaquim: Yeah. That was a big pillar of the childhood there.
They seem to have a lot of trouble getting the live-action movie for that off the ground. It'd probably be a better idea to just do like what you guys are doing with Voltron and just do another series and get it going.
Joaquim: Yeah, I mean, that thing's got a very murky past in terms of who owns the rights and legal maneuvering. That's just a pie in the sky sort of wish of ours. I mean, Voltron was really one of those properties that was pretty high up on that list and we were able to check that box off the old bucket list.
Definitely we've got season 4 coming. Fans know that. Without spoiling too much, can you talk a little bit about what's ahead on the show for fans and what people who have watched this far can maybe expect in the future?
Lauren: I think as we've probably seen from the first half of this arc that Lotor is out there. He's in full swing and he's definitely trying to figure out how he can best get his hands on Voltron, or maybe even go around Voltron and not deal with Voltron and just figure out how he wants to do what it is he wants to do. We're just kind of starting to see his plan unfold but we don't really know what it is yet. So you can definitely expect to see much more of that.
Joaquim: Yeah. And I think the cool thing about Lotor as a villain is it's a very different method than Voltron has had to face in the past. Watching our characters navigate a very different villain is gonna be really interesting to see.
Voltron is a thing that has been talked about for live-action for so long and it feels like the kind of thing that would work. Do you guys, working on the animation side now, have you ever thought, "Oh yeah! We've got a pitch. I think we could do this as a movie." Have you guys thought about that?
Joaquim: I mean, we'd love to. We've definitely talked about it. That would be the dream of dreams.
Lauren: It's a project that could easily work as a theatrical release and that would be really cool.
Is it something that you guys have honestly discussed? Or is it just kind of one of those, "Oh, that would be cool," things but then you just kind of move on from it?
Joaquim: I think we've had both. Honestly, before we came onto the show we had both types of discussions as well and the show came to be a reality. So our interests I think, in terms of projects we want to work on, they start very much like anybody else would. "Wouldn't it be so cool if..." As far as a theatrical release, we've had discussions that were just us geeking out on what it could be, and then a bit more realistic of what it would take to actually make something happen.
I think that's a nice thing for people to hear. Even people that have had a lot of success, most things just start out as, "Hey! Wouldn't it be cool if..." I think people think things seem so insurmountable sometimes, but really even people that do create and have success have that same thing of, "Wouldn't it be cool." Then eventually things happen.
Joaquim: At the core of it we're just fans of this content and this genre. If I wasn't working in animation I'd be watching animation. I'd be collecting just as many toys as I collect now.
Lauren: That's literally how this show started, was us just saying like, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could remake Voltron?" And then crazy, crazy things happened and suddenly we're making Voltron.
Is there anything you want to throw out there before we wrap up here?
Joaquim: Just that we're stoked with the way everybody's been reacting to the show and we obviously, not to sound too cliche, but we can't do it without the fan support and it's such an awesome core audience that, it's unbelievable the response that we've got. We can't wait for the next season to drop on October 13. Tune in for more.
It sounds like Netflix has no intention of ending this new Voltron series anytime soon, which is great news for new and old fans alike. Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery are going to have their hands full, that's for sure. Voltron: Legendary Defender season 4 is available on Netflix now.