When Megalyn Echikunwoke first signed up to voice the DC Comics character of Vixen for CW Seed’s digital series Vixen, she never thought the role would go any further than animation. But here she is, a year later, bringing her animated character to life in live action on Arrow for this week’s action-packed episode “Taken.”
“I’m so excited! I can hardly put it into words,” Echikunwoke tells Nerdist. “There was some talk of it late last year and then they decided to just go for it earlier this year. My first thought was, ‘Wow, how did I get so lucky?’ And then, ‘Oh my god, these are big shoes to fill!’ Vixen is such a cool character and has such a huge dedicated fan base. I hope that I can make them all proud and do right by this character. I was slightly intimidated. Vixen is so cool and I’m just a nerd. I’ve never played a superhero before.”
Echikunwoke knew that the live action portrayal would be incredibly different her voice work, even though she’d be playing the same exact character. “The beauty of doing that kind of voice work is that you get to be physical in a way that you never would be able to on camera,” she says. “You get to do all kinds of weird things in that sound booth—whatever it takes to get the vocal quality that you need. In a way, that was so freeing. People seemed to respond to the vocal work that I did, so I just tried to maintain that on Arrow for my live-action performance.”
She continues, “Additionally, I tried to work on absorbing the different incarnations of her in the comic books over the years to really get a sense of her ethos and really find her core. I hope that I do her justice enough to possibly continue to play her in live action, if that opportunity should arise. I’d love to see [a spinoff].”
The web series Vixen came from the minds of Arrow/The Flash/Legends of Tomorrow uber-producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg and debuted on the digital platform CW Seed back in the fall. It has already been renewed for a second season, and takes place within the shared universe of the three DC TV shows.
Vixen was based on the DC Comics character Mari McCabe, a costumed superhero crime-fighter with the power to mimic the abilities of any animal that has ever lived on Earth. Mari inherits her family’s Tantu Totem, gaining the powers of animals, using them to fight as Vixen to stop threats like those that claimed her family, after her parents were killed in Africa by local corruption.
Tonight’s episode of Arrow serves as a sequel to her titular CW Seed series, which followed Vixen’s origin story.
“Vixen is coming from Detroit and heading to Star City,” Echikunwoke says. “This all happens after the animated series. The Green Arrow [Stephen Amell] and the Flash [Grant Gustin] and I have created this working relationship and this friendly relationship. Some time has passed since the ending of [the animated series].”
According to Echikunwoke, Oliver ends up calling on Mari for her Vixen powers to help him locate Damien Dahrk (Neil McDonough) after he kidnaps Oliver’s son.
“We will see Damien Dahrk and Vixen going at it,” Echikunwoke says. “She’s going to kick his ass! Or at least she’s going to try. She’s definitely going to be doing some major ass kicking, which was really fun. I was lucky enough to work with everyone on the episode, everyone from the core cast. I was really lucky.”
Are you excited to see Vixen make her way to Arrow? Tweet me your thoughts at @SydneyBucksbaum!
Images: The CW
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.