At San Diego Comic-Con, I had the honor of sitting down for roundtable interviews with the cast and creators of DC’s Justice League: Gods & Monsters. Among those I interviewed, was a hero of mine since childhood, Bruce Timm. The writer of Batman: The Animated Series, which in my opinion is the greatest cartoon series ever. During the interview, Bruce Timm talked about what is was like making Gods & Monsters and what he loves best about Batman.
Q: How difficult was it to work on the film which is a whole entirely different type of Justice League?
Bruce Timm: It was not difficult at all, it was like a breath of fresh air. Oh God…I have to be careful with what I say here…it’s not the traditional versions of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, which are really rich characters. I think there’s tons and tons and tons of all kinds of stories that we can still do with those characters even after all these years but this being a tangent universe where these characters are really Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in name only, we can do anything with these characters and even DC comics can’t say ‘Oh, well you can’t do that,’ because these aren’t the traditional characters. They can’t come to me and say ‘Batman would never do that,’ well this Batman might! It’s incredibly…freeing. It’s kind of nice to have the chains off completely and we can just go down any path, it’s actually a little bit scary. It’s kind of like ‘Wow, we can do anything. We better do something cool!’
Q: In this film, your Batman is actually Kirk Langstrom aka Man-Bat, when you were making this Batman, did you initially think of the identity of Kirk Langstrom as Batman?
Timm: It was the Vampire Batman first, then Kirk Langstrom was an after thought. It was really close together though but literally, my first thought was as a kid I’ve always been a fan of superheroes and monster movies, that was it. From a very early age, Batman was always my favorite superhero and part of it is because he looked really cool, [laughs] he’s got the coolest costume in all of comics. And yeah, he’s wearing a f***ing Dracula outfit! So, it makes sense to make him literally Vampire Batman. So the moment I thought of it, I immediately kind of just went straight to the Kirk Langstrom file and it totally made sense.
Q: What’s the balance to coming up with ways to identify this as an alternative universe to what everyone is used to and telling a compelling story so they don’t get in the way of each other?
Timm: I don’t really see them as competing. For one thing, I think part of the fun aspect of these kinds of else worlds or what if kinds of stories, is everybody knows the origin stories. You don’t have to do the Superman origin story ever again because it’s been done so many times, even though I understand why people would want to do it. I’ve even done it myself because it’s such a great story that you can’t help but want to do it but that’s the fun aspect of it, is that you can go down that path and start off with that traditional origin story and as you’re going this way, you all of a sudden go ‘uh oh! Now we are going this way.’ And it’s fun. The same thing applies to the entire world, it’s like yeah there’s a lot of traditional DC supporting characters in this movie but they react completely differently in this world than you’re used to. Like Lois Lane, she’s still a reporter but she hates this Superman ’cause he’s a super d**k [laughs]. It’s different like with Lex Luthor, he’s not a zillion miles away from the traditional Luthor but there’s still things about him where his relationship with Superman is a little bit different. It’s kind of fun to kick the table over and see what happens.
Chris Salce: To a lot of people, you’re known as one of the few writers that really gave Batman his character and got his character, that everybody loved and nobody hated…
Timm: [Laughs] Wow! I never knew all of that! [Laughs].
Chris Salce: What is it about Batman that maybe you relate to and that you get so well about the character?
Timm: I don’t know, I get that question so often and I never have a good answer for it. I don’t know that I necessarily relate to Batman and a lot of people always say ‘Oh, it’s because he’s just a regular guy and nobody can be Superman but anyone can be Batman’ and it’s like yeah, anybody with a zillion dollars, good genes, good breeding and works out a lot can be Batman [laughs]. Yeah…I could never be Batman. A lot of it really just comes down to the costume. I think Bob Kane once described Batman as Dracula and Zorro, and it’s just like yeah, what’s cooler than that? He’s the good guy that dresses like the bad guy who scares the crap out of criminals. It’s as cool as it gets. Even all of the quote unquote darker characters in comics like Punisher, Wolverine or whoever, they’re all kind of in Batman’s shadow.
Justice League: Gods & Monsters is on Digital HD on July 14, and as a Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on July 28.