|Backstage - Interviews - Ben Jones
To commemorate the Batman: The Brave and The Bold series finale episode "Mitefall!," The World's Finest caught up with Director Ben Jones to both discuss the final episode and also look back at the impact the series has left behind.
The World's Finest:
Let's start things off on a different step - what was the most valuable lesson you've learned from working on Batman: The Brave and The Bold?
Ben Jones: Aside from a bunch of technical animation stuff, and a smattering of comic book history, just a confirmation of the old truism that every character is somebody’s favourite – It seemed like no matter how deep we dug into the DC catalogue, someone somewhere would get excited to see them on TV. Even Ultra the Multi-Alien!
WF: Can you run us through your directing process for 'Mitefall?' What was your outset in putting this episode together? Was it a difficult episode to put together, given the plot? How did you find and insert the Batgirl CGI sequence?
BJ: I heard about the planned ending for the series near the beginning of season three, and I thought then that it was brilliant (I don’t know if it was James Tucker or Michael Jelenic’s idea). The hardest part of that episode was just pulling back on wild tangents and keeping the focus of the episode on the future of the show and Batman’s reaction to it – when you have a character like Bat-Mite, who can do anything, it can be tempting to go off in strange directions, but Mitefall had a lot of stuff going on story-wise that had to take precedence. The Batgirl sequence had already been done for a while before we even started – again, I don’t know whether it was James or Michael’s idea to include it. Either way, I’m glad people got to see some of it at least, but I also wish we could have included the whole short.
WF: Now, let's get to the standard retrospective question...What was your favorite episode and why? What made it (or perhaps...them?) stand out above the others?
BJ: My favourite is actually “Mitefall!”, because to me, it’s the one that we couldn’t have done in pretty much any other superhero show. So I also really enjoyed the first Bat-Mite episode “Legends of the Dark Mite!” and “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!” for pretty much the same reason. Also “Mayhem of the Music Meister!”, because I’d been wanting to do a full musical episode since the Bunny Raven episode of Teen Titans. I also really like “The Last Patrol!” for allowing me to do a Doom Patrol episode. And it wasn’t one I was expecting to like very much, but “Cry Freedom Fighters!” kind of snuck up on me and became really enjoyable (although that may be due to some sleep deprivation related side effects). But my favourite is “Mitefall!”.
WF: Despite the early fan outcry about the series, 'a kiddie Batshow is was called,' it quickly became one of the favorites around. Why do you think that is? Is it because this show actually dared to do something different and successfully pulled it off?
BJ: After Teen Titans, Legion of Superheroes and Transformers Animated, I grew accustomed to an initially negative response from fans. It’s become so common I actually found it reassuring. But I understand why fans get nervous – it’s hard to judge how a show’s going to turn out from a single image. It isn’t until a few episodes have aired that they realize the show’s in the hands of people who have a similar affection for the characters. James is as big a Batman fan as anyone watching the show, and so are most of the people working on it, so we were never going to do something disrespectful to Batman’s legacy. And least not deliberately.
WF: Looking through the credits of this series, you definitely stepped up and contributed heavily to this series. What was it about this show that grabbed you, that had you so enthused? Why do you think that resonated with not only your co-workers, but fans as well?
BJ: I’ve always had an affection for the stranger corners of the DC Universe, and for characters a lot of people would consider B- (or even C- or D-) listers. So a show like this offered a rare opportunity to work with some of the heroes who wouldn’t otherwise get a chance in the spotlight. And I think that’s what the fans responded to too – even if you don’t know who B’Wana Beast or the Black Orchid are, there’s something unique to characters like that that people like to see.
WF: If you could go back and pick any of your episodes and redo/fix something, which would it be and why?
BJ: There are always a ton of little things, but the first that springs to mind is that I wish I had remembered that Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man was Swedish in time for the recording session. Also, I wish that the right version of “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!” had aired – we went back in after it was initially done, tightened up the teaser and added some stuff to the other segments. I think that version is superior, but it will probably be the one they put on the DVD, so at least people will get a chance to see it.
WF: What was the last day of production on Batman: The Brave and The Bold like for you. Is there anything that you took away from this whole experience, be it positive or negative? What will you remember the most about this show?
BJ: I don’t think I even knew the last day on production was the last day – it’s a different day for pretty much everyone on the show, and it always seems like little details continue to pop up after everything is theoretically done, so nothing ever feels very final. Plus I was already working on the next project, so it’s hard to find the time to stop and reflect. But as a whole, we got to make the show we wanted to make, so that was pretty great.
WF: Looking back, what do you hope the legacy of this series will be?
BJ: Primarily, I hope it’s just remembered as a good show. But more than that, I also hope it broadens the scope as far as which characters get tapped for future shows. I think we gave a spotlight to lot of characters that could easily star in their own series, like Aquaman, Blue Beetle, Plastic Man and of course Wonder Woman. I mean, “The Power of Shazam!” was pretty much just an episode of a Captain Marvel show that happened to guest star Batman, so I hope that and “The Malicious Mr. Mind!” might have done a little something to demonstrate the viability of a Marvel Family show.
WF: Lastly, what projects are you working on now? Anything you can tease for the readers?
BJ: By the time this interview gets published, there will already have been a sneak preview of my newest project on Cartoon Network (I hope everyone caught it) – I’m working on a series of shorts for the new DC Nation block, premiering in full next spring.
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