Ben 10 2016 Reboot: Voice Acting and Voice Direction

  • I don't think I really covered the voice acting and voicing direction that much through any of my episode reviews of the Ben 10 reboot so I'm going to go ahead and give my in-depth review on that.

    So let's cover the voicing cast here. The only original voice actors to make a return for this reboot voicing their original characters are Tara Strong as Ben Tennyson and Dwight Schultz as Dr. Animo. John DiMaggio also returns but he provides the voice for Four Arms and Zombozo. DiMaggio is not the original voice actor for Four Arms and Zombozo though but has voiced them before in Omniverse and he has originally voiced Vulcanus throughout each show since the Original Series. Richard McGonagle is the original voice actor for Four Arms and John Kassir is the original voice actor for Zombozo. Greg Cipes returns but he now provides the voice for Stinkfly. Dee Bradley Baker, the original Stinkfly and Wildmutt voice actor, returns voicing more minor characters. David Kaye also makes a return from Omniverse but he now voices Max Tennyson, replacing Paul Eiding (and I'll get to that in a bit), as well as other characters in the reboot. Montserrat Hernandez is the new voice actress for Gwen Tennyson, replacing Meagan Smith and Ashley Johnson. As far as I know, everyone else in the voice cast, including Hernandez, are all new to the Ben 10 franchise, including Robin Atkin Downes as Hex replacing Khary Payton, Josh Keaton as XLR8 and Roger Craig Smith as Diamondhead replacing Jim Ward, David Sobolov as Upgrade replacing Tara Strong, etc. That is if I didn't miss anyone. The Ben 10 reboot's voice director is Collette Sunderman. Because the internet is filled with all sorts of toxic people and assholes, DO NOT go and attack, harass, threaten, insult, etc anyone of these people here and the same goes for anyone else that worked on the Ben 10 reboot. If you're going to approach any of these people, do so in a calm and polite manner and provide proper constructive criticism.

    Here's my take on the performance of this very cast of voice actors. They do a decent job with their roles...and that's it. They just do a decent job and that's it. These voice actors don't really do anything to make their characters stand out in a good way with a couple of exceptions. In some cases, some of the voice actors do injustice towards the roles that they're portraying, often being because the show is taking a more comedic route. Robin Atkin Downes, for example, does a decent job with Hex but instead of making Hex sound menacing like Khary Payton did, Downes sticks to what the show is going for and helps to make Hex more wacky, stupid, and comedic, which really undermines Hex as a villain. Greg Cipes' portrayal as Stinkfly is just so badly mismatched. Cipes is a really good voice actor but he does not suit Stinkfly at all. Listening to Stinkfly's voice in the reboot is almost like nails on a chalkboard in regards to just how obnoxious he sounds like and Stinkfly's redesign doesn't do any justice for the alien either. What confuses me even more is that they have Dee Bradley Baker voicing characters in the Ben 10 reboot as well and he's the original Stinkfly voice actor. Why the hell is Baker not voicing Stinkfly? Why Greg Cipes of all people? I really do like John DiMaggio a lot for just how great of a voice actor he is but I don't really like his portrayal as Four Arms because he makes Four Arms sound more like some typical tough guy and he doesn't do much for Zombozo either. Richard McGonagle really does such a great job of not only making Four Arms sound tough but even more importantly, he makes Four Arms sound truly alien while DiMaggio doesn't do that. As for John Kassir as Zombozo, he does a great job of really making that very villain sound truly menacing and scary while DiMaggio just makes him sound more like a typical evil clown. Speaking of Ben's aliens, the biggest issue with Ben's aliens in the reboot is that most, if not none, of them sound like actual aliens. Instead they sound really human with some of Ben's aliens in the reboot sounding like teenagers. Montserrat Hernandez does an ok job voicing Gwen but, like with the others, she doesn't do anything to really make Gwen stand out in the show and this is an even bigger issue than with the other characters because Gwen is a main character. She's one of the characters that's supposed to be the most compelling and significant characters in the show considering that she's supposed to be there to help keep Ben from stepping out of line and actually help him be a better, more responsible, and more capable hero. Instead, Hernandez makes Gwen sound more like a typical girl character that we've seen plenty of times in other recent Cartoon Network shows and that I had noticed some people compare this reboot version of Gwen to. She doesn't stand out. She doesn't have a lot that's going for her and a significant part of the reason as to why is due to Hernandez's performance of Gwen. Speaking of main characters, who the hell thought it was a good idea to replace Paul Eiding for the role of Max Tennyson? Paul Eiding. The...Paul...Eiding. That was certainly a mistake because even though David Kaye also does an ok job with Max, he just doesn't deliver as Max. Max in the Ben 10 reboot is more of just a typical, weird, grandfather that's trying to be hip with his grandkids instead of the mysterious, interesting, compelling, and badass grandfather from the original show and part of that reason is due to David Kaye's performance. Again, Kaye does a decent job but he doesn't go any further than that. Either way, Max is just not the same as he was before anymore and it just doesn't fare well for him as a character. Then there's Tara Strong as Ben Tennyson. You'd think that considering this is Tara Strong voicing her original character, she would actually do something to make Ben stand out, right? She does but not in a good way. Ben doesn't entirely sound like Ben. It sounds like Tara Strong is mixing her Ben voice with that of her Timmy Turner voice together and it doesn't sound right for Ben. She still does a decent job as Ben. It's just that Ben doesn't have a lot that's going for him as well and much of that is due to the writing and the approach for a more comedic style and tone, thus making Ben pretty much at his most obnoxious yet while providing basically no proper character development for him in the reboot. Not even Tara Strong is able to do much with Ben because of that. She does better than the others. It just isn't enough considering how Ben is written in this reboot show.

    I did mention that there were a couple of exceptions to the voice acting performance in the Ben 10 reboot. Those exceptions are Dwight Schultz as Dr. Animo and Dee Bradley Baker as one of Animo's mutants, Slurpstack. Schultz continues to do a great job of voicing Dr. Animo because he keeps Dr. Animo mostly the same as he was before. Dr. Animo is still the same Dr. Animo that we all know and like and that's great. As for Dee Bradley Baker as Slurpstack, come on. This is Dee Bradley Baker being Dee Bradley Baker. This guy is legendary for being able to mold his voice in ways to really do something unique and I do like his voice acting performance as Slurpstack. I mean like christ, Slurpstack's voice would've been a much better voice to use for Stinkfly than what Cipes did. It's a shame that this is so far the extend at which they use Baker's skills for; especially considering his voice works for characters and villains in the original show such as Stinkfly, Wildmutt, the Limax, Six Six, Acid Breath, etc as well as just many of the roles that he portrayed throughout his career in general. To me, that feels like such a waste of such great talent. This is what I find to be the best voice acting performance in the Ben 10 reboot and that's unfortunately not saying a lot considering everything else that I previously mentioned.

    Let's go ahead and compare the reboot to the original again because clearly I haven't done enough of that (lol). Ok, I see two factors that contribute the most to why I find that the Ben 10 reboot has these very issues with the voice acting performance. First off is the cast itself. The 2005 original Ben 10 show had a cast of voice actors that were just so suitable and capable for the roles that they were portraying. Many of them being freakin legends. Tara Strong really delivers Ben as such a compelling, interesting, and fun main title character. Meagan Smith does a stellar job with Gwen, helping to make her the intelligent, dedicated, strong, and interesting voice of reason that helps Ben to better develop as a character despite her and his distaste towards each other. Strong and Smith were able to make Ben and Gwen's relationship with each other work so well in the original show, even if they do sometimes come off as obnoxious. Paul Eiding just nails Max Tennyson. Those such as Kari Wahlgren, Khary Payton, John Kassir, Dwight Schultz, etc were able to deliver their villains such unique and menacing ways. Michael Reisz and Charlie Schlatter do a great job of making Kevin the unstable, psychopathic thug that he best shined at. Then you had voice actors such as Richard McGonagle, Jim Ward, Richard Steven Horvitz, Dee Bradley Baker, Steve Blum, etc who were all able to create such unique sounds and voices to really make their characters sound so alien yet fitting for their characters. Most, if not every, voice actor in the original show excelled so well at their roles and many of the characters and aliens in this show wouldn't be what they're best known for if it weren't for these very voice actors. If the original voice actors from the original show made a return to voice their very original characters in the reboot, there would've been a good chance that some good improvements would've been made. That the characters in the reboot would be seen in a better light. It's such a shame too. Gwen just isn't the same without Meagan Smith. Max just isn't the same without Paul Eiding. Heatblast just isn't the same without Steve Blum. XLR8, Diamondhead, and Wildvine just aren't the same without Jim Ward. Hex just isn't the same without Khary Payton. I'm not looking at this from a nostalgic perspective. I do genuinely believe that if the cast of voice actors from the original show made a return to voice their characters in the reboot, the reboot would likely at least be in a better state than it is now. Granted, there are still plenty of issues with the reboot that still holds it back greatly in its quality but at least things would likely be a little better if the original voice actors were back. Again, the new voice actors do a decent job with their roles but they just don't go any further than that. The original voice actors are by far the best choices for their respective characters and the original Ben 10 show is proof of that. I plan on wanting to work as a Video Game Designer for PlatinumGames and I guess I could see myself as a perfectionist maybe because I do want to design and make games in as best of a quality as I can make them to be even though I know they'll never be perfect and flawless. Therefore, in regards to finding voice actors for characters, I want to go with who I consider to be the best choice possible for most, if not each, of the characters. The only time I would ever bring in a replacement is if I need to; not because I want to. As examples, in the Powerpuff Girls 2016 reboot, Cartoon Network went with a new set of voice actresses for the main characters because they wanted to be more hip with kids or something of the likes. Nolan in the RebelTaxi Podcast #63 describes it better than me during his Ben 10 reboot discussion. The original voice actresses for Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup were the best choices for voicing these very characters again and they wanted to come back but Cartoon Network cared more about the selling of the show's merchandise more so than the quality of the show itself. Yeah the new voice actresses do a decent job but it was clear that they just don't deliver as well as the originals did. When season 5 of Samurai Jack was being made, the team that made it had to hire Greg Baldwin to voice Aku because the original voice actor, Makoto Iwamatsu, unfortunately passed away. They needed to find a suitable enough voice actor for the part and with the best possible choice for Aku no longer being around with us, Genndy Tartakovshy and his team went with Greg Baldwin because he's the second best possible choice to voice such a character and they NEEDED to find someone suitable enough to take over for Mako and therefore, it's very much understandable and acceptable as to why Greg Baldwin was brought in to voice Aku and he does a good enough job with the role too. Overall, I say it was a mistake for the team working on the Ben 10 reboot to go and replace the original voice actors with a cast that are just clearly not the best options to voice such characters. They’re not bad and they can do well with their roles. They just don’t take things further than that and are just not the best choices as voice actors for these very characters. Granted, there's an even bigger, more important factor to take into consideration than just having the right cast of voice actors and that is having a strong, proper voicing direction.

    As I stated before, Collette Sunderman is the voice director for the Ben 10 2016 reboot. Sunderman has done voice directing for mostly cartoon shows. Examples include Dexter’s Laboratory, the original Powerpuff Girls, Code Name Kids Next Door, Camp Lazlo, Chowder, Generator Rex, plenty of Scooby-Doo shows, and then the Ben 10 2016 reboot plus many more. She’s also voice directed plenty of animated movies and video games as well that are mostly based on Cartoon Network properties. While Ben 10 is a cartoon franchise, it’s not your typical cartoon franchise; especially the Original Series. Watching the original show really showcases that. It does things quite differently compared to other western cartoons including those that Sunderman typically works on. The original show has a certain style and identity to it that made it stand out compared to other shows of its time and even when compared to cartoon shows coming out today. Yes the Ben 10 reboot has a different style and identity to it but that’s one of the problems that plague the show significantly. The Ben 10 reboot is just not Ben 10. It doesn’t feel like what a Ben 10 show should be and Sunderman hasn’t done a lot of voice directing works outside of what she typically works on. Not even her voice directing work for Generator Rex, the Ben 10/Generator Rex crossover, and Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens help her that much here. Most of what she works on is very cartoonish comedies and that’s not what Ben 10 is supposed to be. Therefore, she doesn’t really give that much of a strong direction for the voice acting in the show. Like I said before, not even Tara Strong is able to do much with Ben in the reboot and the voice that she gives off for Ben just sounds off and not right. Ben doesn’t sound entirely like Ben in the reboot even though it’s the same voice actress and Tara Strong did a much better job with voicing the 11-year-old Ben in Omniverse.

    The 2005 Ben 10 original show was voice directed by Kris Zimmerman-Salter. If anyone doesn’t know who she is, let me type this out for you. She’s a freakin legend in voice directing. She’s done her fare share of voice directing cartoon shows but she really shines in video games. What games has she directed? Many games in the Metal Gear Solid franchise were voice directed by Zimmerman. She’s also done voice directing for games such as Killer7, Dear Rising, Lost Planet, No More Heroes 1 and 2, many games in the God of War franchise, Vanquish, Bayonetta 1 and 2, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, and many more. Considering the very show that the original Ben 10 is, you couldn’t have picked a better voice director than Kris Zimmerman. She was by far the best choice for the original Ben 10 and she was also in charge of the casting for the show. She’s the reason why we got such a fantastic performance from a fantastic team of voice actors that she selected for the original Ben 10. Considering everything she’s done before and after the original Ben 10 show, it’s no wonder why the voice acting performance and direction for the show turned out to be so freakin great and the best in the franchise. I bet that if they had her voice directing the Ben 10 reboot, the voice acting performance in the reboot would be a hell of a lot better. She could’ve went and brought back the original cast or at the very least could’ve done something with the new cast. Zimmerman deserves so much praise and credit for all the great work that she’s done for Ben 10 and throughout her career in general.

    I’m going to link the pages for Collette Sunderman and Kris Zimmerman-Salter from Behind the Voice Actors. Just really look at and compare all the works that these two have done to really illustrate what I’m talking about here.

    Collette Sunderman:

    Kris Zimmerman-Salter:

    So that’s everything that I want to cover about the voice acting and voice direction for the Ben 10 2016 reboot. If anyone has any thoughts and opinions of their own on this topic, feel free to comment down below.

    I’m also going to start doing this from now on to try and get myself out there more.

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  • Ben 10 Fans

    Like the new Ben 10 Reboot cartoon series. It a shame the Man of Action replaced Paul Eiding for David Kaye as the voice of Grandpa Max in the Ben 10 Reboot series. Besides Paul's voice acting as Grandpa Max is better in the original Ben 10 and the rest of the Ben 10 series(Ben 10 Alien Force,Ben 10 Ultimate Alien and Ben 10 Omniverse) and also 3D movie Ben 10 Destroy All Aliens too. I wish the Man Of Action should've hire him back instead of David Kaye. But hey don't get me wrong I'm saying it in my words straight up.

  • Ben 10 Fans

    Wait Vulkanus? But Vulkanus isn't even in the Reboot?
    I will say this, I kinda agree with this because Greg Cipes is just spammed all over media now to the point he's on every cartoon voicing at least one character. And I don't believe Greg Cipes is right for the Ben 10 Reboot, especially when playing aliens since he doesn't really have a different voice to play. Same goes to Daryl Sabara playing Heatblast, I get Man of Action probably wanted to keep him since he played on Generator Rex, but him with Heatblast, it doesn't make sense, I'd feel like he would be better as somebody else, but not one of Ben's aliens unless the transformation made sense?
    Robin imo is a good replacement for Hex, but Khary Payton is still around, I don't feel right with them replacing him. Personally he's one of my favorite voice actors and I'm just glad he makes a good Hex.
    Dee Bradley Baker NOT being on Ben 10 makes no sense, we've kinda seen for awhile Omniverse was trying to in a way "not use him" probably because of money or because of something else, but I feel like Stinkfly should've been by him or at least should've had a similar voice done?
    John DiMaggio, he's also one of my favorites, and I can see why they at least kept him for Four Arms and Zombozo. I'm now used to his voice for each character but Richard McGonagle, his voice fits more for OS Four Arms. I feel like the reason they don't use him anymore is because they want a more natural and newer voice for him, that might be why they experimented on Four Arms in Ultimate Alien.
    Paul Eiding not being Grandpa Max... okay we all can agree with how stupid that is, moving on.
    The only newer voices I really admire are for: Gwen, Diamondhead, XLR8, Four Arms, Cannonbolt, Grey Matter, and honestly... I'm used to this new Upgrade, especially because it reminds me of Retaliator.
    I honestly wish they kept Paul Eiding and Steve Blum to reprise for their characters, hell maybe even bring back the old Grey Matter, he's voice acting for Skylanders, he would fit for playing him.
    And as for Stinkfly... I don't even know what they can do with him at this point but throw in a voice that would actually make sense? I mean if they had to keep Greg Cipes do a more mutated voice rather then just throw him in because of favoritism, that's stupid.
    Personally I know how the lot of us like the original cast, but even then Jim Ward wouldn't be able to voice on Ben 10 forever, same with Richard McGonagle. Plus Meagan Smith only voiced in one show entirely, and that was just for Ben 10. I don't think she'd be able to come back for any recurring role for the series, and honestly I'm okay with that. I prefer this new Gwen over Ashley Johnson and Meagen Smith because Ashley makes Gwen sound too much like a bookworm, and Meagen well... she's ok.
    I'm just glad they're experimenting with a new cast, but at the same time, I want better voice actors who can match each and individual character and not just throw people around because of favoritism. Also don't forget guys, Man of Action was the one who also wanted different voices for the Reboot, and David Kaye seemed pretty excited to play Grandpa Max, I gotta admit he's not a bad Max, because we could have far worse (Alien Swarm), but I just hope whatever they're doing can be changed, altered or fixed in the future, for Ben 10's sake.

  • @Ebomnitrix Oops, my mistake. I'll fix that "Vulkanus" issue when I get home from work tonight. Thanks for spotting it.

  • @Ebomnitrix Ok, I fixed that mistake with Vulcanus. Thanks again.

  • Ben 10 Fans

  • @Ebomnitrix There is plenty of good points that you make as well. Like I said, this new cast of voice actors aren't bad. Sometimes they do pretty good with their roles in some occasions. Overall, they're just decent and they don't do any more than just decent and many, if not most, of them are just so mismatched for the characters that they're portraying in the reboot show. I can also understand if some of the original voice cast from the original show don't want to come back and/or can't voice their respective characters forever. That's why I said that I would rather only go for finding replacements if I need to. Key word, need. I would very much understand if an issue happened that would lead to the need to finding replacements. If the team working on the Ben 10 reboot at least tried to bring back as much of the original cast as possible, finding replacements if they had no other choice, then yeah, I would have better acceptance of the new cast, even though I would still think that they could've found better choices. However, I bet that Cartoon Network, Cartoon Network Studios, and Man of Action didn't even try to bring back more of the original cast; especially considering the Powerpuff Girls reboot and the replacement of the main characters' voice actresses and just how Cartoon Network is nowadays.

    I do agree a lot in regards to Greg Cipes. Like I said, he's a good voice actor but he really is getting spammed a lot and it's starting to get pretty tiresome and maybe even obnoxious.

    Meagan Smith still remains a bit of a mystery to me. Her last voice acting performance was for Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens and then she seems to have disappeared or something. She hasn't done anything since. I heard that she was going to or asked to voice Gwen in Omniverse but she had some project to do or something and therefore wasn't able to do so.

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