DreamWorks’s Voltron Legendary Defender debuted on Netflix last year and immediately garnered a passionate fan base. The reboot of the classic 1984 anime Voltron: Defender of the Universe upped the ante with complex heroes, a sprawling science-fiction universe, and a beautifully redesigned robot rendered in a blend of hand-drawn art and crisp CGI animation. Three seasons of TV haven’t slowed down showrunners Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery, and their latest season has inspired as much fan chatter as ever.
In an interview with Inverse, the storytellers behind Netflix’s red-hot Voltron answer burning questions fans have been asking about the new season and beyond. Spoilers for Voltron Legendary Defender Season 3 are ahead.
Restoring the Roster
When Voltron Legendary Defender premiered, it made one major change from the original: All five Voltron Paladins finally match their Lion colors. It was move Montgomery chalked up to OCD on her part. “I have color OCD and I wanted everyone to match,” Montgomery told Inverse last year. Now, the showrunners confess that a sense of nostalgia for the 1984 original took over, which led to the dramatic team shake-up this season.
“Because I am maybe a slave to my nostalgia, I begged Joaquim to let us do that,” Montgomery tells Inverse. “It was something I wanted because it made those colors make sense. It added a new level of detail.”
The showrunners also had Season 3’s roster change “in the cards for a very long time,” Dos Santos said. “We knew from a story perspective we wanted to eventually get Allura in a Lion. This is the perfect balance, really, when you think about playing to the original audience and doing something organic for the new audience. It’s a good in-between.”
Lotor Has His Own Goals
In the show’s first two seasons, Emperor Zarkon (voiced by Neil Kaplan) hunted down Allura and the Paladins until his epic showdown with Shiro (Josh Keaton), the brave leader of Team Voltron. Now, Prince Lotor (AJ Locascio) has succeeded while his father drifts in a coma. The full extent of Lotor’s plans weren’t revealed in Season 3, but the showrunners assure that Lotor has ideas that conflict with this father’s mission to rule the universe.
“He has his own motivations that are different from his father’s, which I think is a good starting point for a different bad guy that will have repercussions for our heroes,” explains Dos Santos. “His methods are extremely different than Zarkon. But there’s also relatability when you get into who he is and what drives him, not unlike Zarkon in the flashback episode. Hopefully that turns Zarkon around for people, in terms of good guys and bad guys, and put him in a grey area.”
Montgomery also hints that Lotor is racing against the clock, before his father wakes up, which he does in the finale. “If he doesn’t pull off his reconfiguring of the Galra empire before his father wakes up, it’s not gonna work. He knows he’s got a timeframe to get stuff done in.”
The Multiverse Has Opened Up
In the Season 3 episode “Hole in the Sky,” Allura and Team Voltron discover a path to an alternate reality where the Alteans survived, and won, the war against Zarkon. And it’s just one of many realities, which means Voltron Legendary Defender has unlocked its own multiverse. But the reason for it is a lot more playful than in any other sci-fi franchise.
“We were like, how can we get Sven in here? Alternate universe Shiro. Done,” jokes Montgomery.
The return/debut of Sven is a deep-cut in-joke going back to the original anime, GoLion. When GoLion was adapted into Voltron, the Blue Lion pilot Takashi Shirogane (who wore a black uniform, natch) was renamed Sven, and had a bizarre Norwegian accent. With “Shiro” supplanting Sven in Voltron Legendary Defender, the showrunners thought its expanding universe had room to include Sven for the first time.
There were more serious reasons, too. “We thought long and hard with the writers: What is our Voltron origin? What makes this robot so special? We came up with this comet ore and the fact it can traverse space and time and reality. When you have something like that, you have to follow through with seeing one of those realities.”
Adds Dos Santos: “Seeing [how] the Alteans and Allura could go that direction had things gone differently is intriguing. It plays to what Allura’s personality was towards the Galra in earlier seasons. There’s no good guys and bad guys.”
But does a Voltron Multiverse mean a crossover with the heroes of the 1984 series is possible? It could happen, just maybe not with Dos Santos and Montgomery at the helm. “Multiverses make anything possible,” Dos Santos says. “We’ve got a ton of stories to tell in this universe, and who knows. All things are on the table. Even long past we’re gone it leaves the door open, 15, 20 years from now, for anyone to go crazy.”
Back to Earth
After three seasons, a long time has passed since the human Paladins have been on Earth. When Inverse asked if the Paladins will ever get to resume their lives, Dos Santos and Montgomery reveal that it’s a strong possibility, and how that could happen.
“We addressed that early with Lance being homesick and Hunk wanting to see his family, but what they realize is that those families aren’t safe as long as the Galra is out there,” Montgomery explains. “Their families are hopefully going to be there for them and they’ll accept them back, hopefully as heroes, but they’re not worried what’s happening on Earth right now. They’re worried about what could happen if the don’t put an end to this crazy Galra army.”
Voltron Legendary Defender Season 3 is streaming now on Netflix.