Young Justice's Beast Boy And Kaldur Actors Explain Why Their Characters' Traumas Were So Relatable

Young Justice's versions of Kaldur and Beast Boy
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Animation)

Many of the main Young Justice characters have been through the wringer in Season 4 (a.k.a. Young Justice: Phantoms), and that’s saying a lot for people who save the world on what seems like on a daily basis. Two heroes that specifically come to mind are Kaldur’ahm, a.k.a. Aquaman, and Garfield Logan, a.k.a. Beast Boy, with the former having to both navigate political turmoil within the Atlantean kingdom and come to terms with the apparent death of teammate Conner Kent/Superboy (spoiler alert, he actually got stuck in the Phantom Zone), while the latter has struggled with depression due to the loss of Conner, whom he saw as a brother. With Young Justice Season 4 almost over, Khary Payton and Greg Cipes, the voice actors behind Kaldur’ahm and Beast Boy, respectively, spoke with CinemaBlend about why their characters’ traumas were so relatable this season. 

I had the chance to speak with Khary Payton and Greg Cipes about their work on animated DC movie Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse, where they reprise Teen Titans Go!’s versions of Cyborg and Beast Boy. As these conversations were wrapping up, I asked them both what they thought of their characters’ trajectories in this expectation-defying season of Young Justice. Starting off, Khary Payton (who also voices characters like Black Lightning and Black Manta on Young Justice) had this to say about the show going away for over half a decade ended up being beneficial:

I think it’s been incredible to let these characters expand, because we’re only at four seasons, but it’s been almost 10 years because of the show being canceled and then being brought back alive, and being moved from network to network, and now we’re on HBO Max. So that time has actually worked in our favor, because we say there’s a time jump, but in actuality, it’s been a very little time jump, because the truth is is that these characters have been around for 10 years almost, and so there’s a gravity and there’s a weight to that time as it’s gone by. So it was easy to kind of sink into the reality of Kaldur'ahm’s arc and his story, because it really does feel like he’s been carrying this around for a decade.

Young Justice has come a long way since its early days on Cartoon Network. Ever since the show returned from a six-year hiatus, initially on the then-DC Universe and now being viewable with an HBO Max subscription, it’s redirected its focus to telling stories geared towards older viewers, rather than returning to being more of an all-ages product. From Khary Payton’s perspective, this lengthy amount of time has worked in the show’s favor, including with Kaldur'ahm’s personal story, as there’s more impact to what happens with these characters. In Kaldur’s case, even ignoring everything that went down in the Atlantis-focused portion of Season 4, it still felt like Kaldur’s frantic pace with both his superhero activities after all these years now combined with processing the grief of losing Conner was wearing him down.

Going to Greg Cipes, Young Justice has provided him a platform to voice a more complex Beast Boy, in sharp contrast to the goofy version on Teen Titans Go!. While discussing Beast Boy’s heartbreaking story following the conclusion of Season 4 Part 1, which has seen him sit out on leading the Outsiders team and take various kinds of pills to aid with sleeping, Cipes revealed that he was suffering from COVID while recording his lines for the currently season. The actor explained:

I’ve often experienced parallel universes going on with my own real life and what goes on with Beast Boy as a character and what’s written. It’s so wild how things line up. On Young Justice, Beast Boy goes through an addiction to pharmaceuticals and he has PTSD, and he’s in a really dark place and he’s basically sick. And at the time of recording, I had COVID really bad. I got it early on and it was hard to breathe and even move, and I was recording this show in my closet at the time with pillows around me making it happen, and I got to channel what I was going through in real life into this moment on Young Justice with Beast Boy going through what he was going through.

While it’s unfortunate Greg Cipes was dealing with COVID at the time, he used his condition to make his Beast Boy performance sound authentic, as the character has been dealing with his own physical and mental health issues in Young Justice Season 4. Fortunately, it’s been shown in recent episodes that Beast Boy is now on the path to recovery by attending group therapy sessions and getting an emotional support dog named Wingman. Cipes also said the following about being able to voice two distinct versions of Beast Boy in the DC landscape:

So there’s a lot of darkness I got to turn into creativity, which I think is really special and I think that’s why people are loving it. And showing Beast Boy in a whole new light, a whole new way. More vulnerable, more real. Young Justice has a different tone than Teen Titans Go!, but that’s what’s so special about what we create at Warner Bros./DC, this very vast expanse you can have with characters like Beast Boy, whether you want the more edgy dark stuff or just the fun, lighthearted Teen Titans Go! version.

There are only two episodes left to go in Young Justice Season 4, and it hasn’t been announced yet if there will be a Season 5. Rest assured though, CinemaBlend will continue to share major information on the HBO Max series alongside out coverage of upcoming DC TV shows. Those of you looking for more of Khary Payton and Greg Cipes’ comedic hijinks as Teen Titans Go!’s Cyborg and Beast Boy can pick up Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD now. The movie will premiere on Cartoon Network this Friday, May 28, and then become available to stream on HBO Max June 28.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.