During the roundtable sessions for the new animated film, Justice League: Gods and Monsters (available on blu-ray combo pack and dvd), I sat down with writer and producer of the film, Alan Burnett. In this interview, Burnett talked Gods & Monsters, what led to the demise of Batman Beyond and what happened with the knife incident in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
Q: What has it felt like working on a film like this?
Alan Burnett: Well all-new characters which is great! I’ve been writing with Bruce [Timm] for twenty-five years. I go back to ‘Super Friends,’ I actually wrote the last two seasons…I apologize [laughs]. I was told that I had to write my script so a two year old could watch it [laughs]. Now today we are going more gull. It’s interesting because we always want to get a PG-13 rating and we do stuff where we wonder…but it’s animation, you get away with a lot more stuff than you would with live-action. In this one, there’s a lot of adult situations.
Q: Back when ‘Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker’ came out, they removed the knife from Joker’s hand for rating purposes. What was the issue with that which is no longer an issue now?
Burnett: I believe that it was just a different time and they wanted to advertise on Saturday morning and they couldn’t, that’s what changed it.
Chris Salce: Would you say that writing for children is a bit more difficult because you have to worry about a lot of restrictions and what’s appropriate?
Burnett: Yeah, writing for really young kids, I find difficult because they don’t accept irony. I like writing for kids that are in grade school and above. ‘Batman Beyond’ to me, was for twelve to fourteen year olds. It became too old for the Saturday morning crowd which I think caused its demise. I’ve written for all ages and I enjoy writing for all ages.
Q: How do you go about making characters dark in a movie like this?
Burnett: Personally, I’m not one that thinks genetics will make you good or bad, it’s you. To me, what we are exploring is that DC heroes pretty much hold back. They don’t kill in a life and death situation. We created these characters who would, if it came to that, they would kill. If these characters had this much power, would they end up protecting us or would they rule us?
Q: What made approaching this project differently when it comes to working with Bruce Timm?
Burnett: We have a lot of respect for each other and we will argue with each other, we talked to Jeff Johns about his feeling on how it should go, we talked to DC Comics. All the talk and all the ideas, there came a point where they all clicked together. I realized we were writing a mystery thriller and then it became like a hot knife through butter.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters is available now on blu-ray combo pack and dvd. The film features voices from Benjamin Bratt, Michael C. Hall, Tamara Taylor, C. Thomas Howell and Paget Brewster.