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Backstage - Interviews - Michael Jelenic

WF: Hello, Michael! First off, please tell us about your responsibilities on Batman: The Brave and The Bold , and don't skip any details!

My job as the story editor entails producing the scripts for the show. The process starts by sitting down with James Tucker, the shows supervising producer, and the other episodic writers to define the basic concept and story line. From there we pound out an outline and move into drafting a full script.

Another part of the job is making sure all the scripts have the same voice. Different writers have differing styles, so it’s my responsibility to ensure consistency across the entire series. That means make certain that every script is the same in style and tone – almost as if they all originated from the same writer.

WF: Can you tell us what we can expect from Batman: The Brave and The Bold, and what it will give the audience that no other series has to date?

This version gives us a chance to see more aspects of Batman’s personality than ever before. He won’t be so dark and brooding, but instead more playful and light with a sense of humor and irony. We enjoy opportunity to see him in other environments. He goes to space, dives under the ocean, across time and even we even go inside his own body! This is a completely new direction for Batman that we haven’t seen.

WF: Fans are eager to know who will be swinging by on this series. Are there any characters you've been unable to use that you hope to use in the future? Can you reveal any appearing heroes and villains who have yet to be announced?

Superman and Wonder Woman aren’t in this season. We really wanted to focus on many of the other DC Characters that are less commonly explored and branch out a bit. I don’t want to ruin any surprises, so tune in to find out about all the guest stars!

WF: Having watched the first episode, the pre-credit teaser will be unrelated to the rest of the episode itself. What challenges did this present when having to come up with a pre-credit teaser and then having to write a full-length episode that now runs around 18 or so minutes, as opposed to the standard 20 – 22 minutes?

I think this format posed a couple of challenges that turned into great opportunities. Primarily, since the teaser is unrelated to the main part of the episode, the first time you watch the show it might be a bit of a rough transition. Once you’re adjusted to the new format though, it’s like getting to see two episodes in one sitting and that is fun.

There are definitely pros and cons to everything. We had less time to tell the main story, which forced us to be very efficient in our story telling, as well as stick to simpler stories. We couldn’t get too epic but on the other hand, this allowed us to introduce more characters and see Batman across a broader variety of situations.

WF: Based on the episode titles, the opening credit sequence, and even the show itself, this is going to be a much lighter Batman. Why take this approach to Batman, especially given the immense popularity of the incredibly dark The Dark Knight feature and Batman R.I.P. comic storyline?

I think one of the reasons that we went with this lighter approach is because James and I had both previously worked on darker versions of the characters, and those versions had already been told in animation numerous times. We wanted to try something that was different and new. This gave us an opportunity to introduce younger viewers to this iconic character the same way we were as kids. It’s a fresh take on the character and a way to introduce new characters as well. By going lighter, it opened several new avenues of storytelling.

WF: It's easy to just dive into the darker aspects of Batman. As someone who's worked on more serious-minded interpretations of Batman, how did you avoid that for Batman: The Brave and The Bold? Is it difficult to write for a lighter Batman who has to share a spotlight in each episode without making him lose any character depth?

It was a bit jarring at first working on this lighter version of Batman. Our instincts were definitely to go darker. Everybody likes exploring the twisted and psychological aspects of a character, and especially with Batman it’s a little tricky to separate that side of his mythos from the rest of him. As far as the writing goes, we were presented with the difficulty of telling a story that is dramatically compelling without being too dark. Instead we relied on other aspects, such as making the characters more humorous, opening the stories up so they’re larger and over the top. This drove the attention towards the elements of fun instead of dissecting Batman’s psychological make-up, which is at times, too dark for kids.

WF: Now isn't the first time in recent memory Batman has been made a bit lighter. You previously worked on The Batman. How did working on The Batman prepare you for working on Batman: The Brave and The Bold?

Working on “The Batman” was very helpful in preparing me for “The Brave & the Bold”. We covered so many of the darker stories with “The Batman that we knew we didn’t need to revisit them in “Brave & the Bold”. It was liberating to embrace the lighter aspects of the show. In addition, on “The Batman” we delved into his background in depth. I learned so much about his past and what people respond to, and what they didn’t (like nachos). This knowledge helped me to hone in on what the fans really want out of this character.

WF: After watching the first episode, I found it to be fun for all ages. If I could compare it to anything, I'd compare it to the light-hearted Marvel Adventures comic line. How do you think fans will respond to this series, and do you think the series will be able to pull in new fans, young and old?

To be honest, James (Tucker) and I were concerned about fan reaction. We’ve known all along that we’d be making a show that the public would respond to because it has many elements that worked really well. At the same time, we were completely prepared for the backlash of turning Batman into a lighter character. However, if you go back to the Batman of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, we are still borrowing from that great illustrated style and serious fans appreciate the homage.

One thing we’ve both been surprised at is overwhelmingly positive response. While we always though eventually we’d win over the fans, we’re very excited it’s happening so quickly.

WF: Michael, what else are you working on at this time? Will you be working on future DC direct-to-video animated features beyond Wonder Woman, such as Green Lantern or Superman Batman: Public Enemies, or even stepping outside the DC Universe? Care to spill any details?

We’re finishing up on Wonder Woman and its going to be fantastic! As for other direct-to-video projects, there are several that I’m in talks with to be involved in the near future. Currently, I’m developing a new series featuring a DC character. It will be a complete departure from “The Brave & the bold” with a more serious approach, and I think it’s a character I know the fans are eager to see animated.

WF: As we wrap this up, give fans at The World's Finest and beyond one final reason to tune into Batman: The Brave and The Bold this November!

I think one of the best parts of the show is that these characters are really refreshing, both in how they’re interpreted and how they interact with one another. It’s something serious adult fans will enjoy and be able to share with their kids. Be sure to tune in Friday, November 14th at 8:00PM ET/ PT on Cartoon Network!

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