THE WORLD'S FINEST: There was an interesting choice not to include Bruce's internal monologue in the film. What made you feel that it would not work in an animated feature?
JAY OLIVA: Bob Goodman, who's the writer, didn't use any of the internal dialogue. He and I have the same sort of thinking, that a lot of the best lines--it's better to have the character say it if you can find an organic moment. Because a lot of the intner monologue would work sometimes, but you can't do, in this instance, a three-hour movie with an inner monologue all the way because you're going to put the audience to sleep. Even, if you think about it…Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes movie, Game of Shadows…they have internal monologue, but only the action scenes. He's like "Hit the deltoid, do this…" But if you can imagine the entire movie with that…where Sherlock Holmes is just staring at something and inner monologue describes everything, it would really slow down the narrative. And the thing is, with these movies, we're really stuck with the running time we have. Have you seen Part 2 already?
WF: No, I've been holding off for the screening.
JO: Well, the great thing with Part 2 is, there's actually less inner monologue (in the second half of the graphic novel) than Frank Miller had done than in the first half. So the fact is, he didn't really carry it through. And same with the newscasters. There weren't as many scenes with the newscasts in books three and four. So that's why we totally the inner monologue and found places where it could fit (verbally) more naturally. Unfortunately, you lose things. You do miss stuff, like the scene where he cripples that one guy. "There's a lot of different positions I can hit…this one hurts." All of that's cool, but I'd rather try to show that visually. And because it's a film, you have to keep going. There's no time for me to stop, slow down the narrative, and continue on...because there's a pace that I have to keep going.
WF: On the other hand, there were things that made it into the first movie that surprised me. The level of intensity of some of the stuff in the last film…
JO: Oh, definitely.
WF: I see that in this one, you got to keep Bruno, with the swastikas barely covering her breasts. Was there anything that you thought was too much, or that you weren't allowed to keep in?
JO: Yes. For example, the theater shooting. I'm certainly glad now that we didn't end up doing that. There's that scene with the guy who dresses up as Batman and shoots somebody at a restaurant. That's all gone. The only scene I liked that was in the book that didn't make it into the movie was the one about the mother with the paint set, who blows up in the subway. Which is a really cool scene when you read it, but how does it fit into the entire story? And I wanted to make sure that the story was really all about Bruce. It's about Bruce's journey from inactivity to re-becoming Batman and the repercussions of that. So in order to keep the story going, we tried not to have too many cutaways. I know lots of critics wanted the man on the street stuff. That was great, but as a filmmaker, I have to stay true to the main narrative. And that's Batman.
The thing with Bruno--that was one of our major concerns. Originally, I was just going to have her with a tube top. But I decided to ask. We threw it to legal and said: (sheepishly) "Is this okay? This is how it was in the comic book and we want to stay as close to the source material as we can." And they actually came back to us and said: "Well, is she being bad? As long as she's a nazi in a bad way and not in a good light, that's okay. And as long as she's not smoking!" So, fine. No smoking. (Laugh.)
WF: Are there any other particular graphic novels or story lines that you would like to adapt for animation?
JO: I'd love to do The Long Halloween. Kingdom Come would be great, but I don't know how we'd do that with our format. There are a lot of things I'd like to see. And it's exciting looking down the pipeline…I can't tell you right now, but there are some really cool projects that we've got coming.
WF: In these standalone DC Universe films, it seems as though there has been a push to include recognizable screen actors. Is it ever a challenge for you to find "name" actors who can match the character of career voice actors?
ANDREA ROMANO: That's a great question. I will always fight for the right actor, whether it's a celebrity or a non-celebrity. If I know someone who is the best choice for Batman, and he's a rank-and-file voice-over actor, I will fight for them. Sometimes I win that battle, sometimes I don't. Of course, my first thought whenever someone says "Batman" is Keven Conroy, because he's the first Batman I ever cast. And he's stellar at it. He's just a wonderful Batman. But sometimes I get the directive: "Andrea, we want a different Batman for this one." And I always have the right to say I don't want to do it then. But I understood why they had to go with a different Batman for this, and a different Joker as well. And so it's hard to find (the right actor). It's not hard to find celebrities who want to do this though.
WF: Why is that?
AR: If they have children, or were a Batman or Justice League fan themselves, you don't have to pitch them a project where you have to go: "There's this guy, and his name is Bruce Wayne, and he's got all this dough, and his parents are dead." They all know who Batman is. And they go, "My kids don't care that I was in this movie or this TV show. But if I do a Batman, my kids will love me this week." There are a lot of actors whose agents have contacted me saying, "The next time another thing comes along, keep so-and-so in mind, keep so-and-so in mind." And there's a handful of actors I just want to work with, that I keep as a list. And when I get the script for a new project, I look and see: okay, it's got Superman in it, it's got Green Lantern in it, it's got Perry White. And I go, "Who on my wish list would fit any of those roles? Who have we approached before who would be good, who wanted to do it but couldn't fit it into their schedule?" So, it's not that hard to come up with ideas. The thing is, there is a team of people who brainstorm ideas, and I filter through all of that information to find the best choice. And then I have to assess: "How does that Batman work with the guy we want to offer Superman to? And how do those two work with the young actress we want to hire for Robin in this piece? And how does that…" So, it's all a matter of finding a good ensemble that works together.
WF: Could you speak a bit about how Batman has changed in this piece from all of those years we were listening to Kevin Conroy?
AR: In this particular piece, when we meet Bruce Wayne in the first part, he is having a major cocktail with Commissioner Gordon. And you can tell, by the way it's depicted and acted, that he's been living in the bottom of a very expensive bottle of scotch for a couple of years. And he's got age of course, that's one thing--except for you, because you're a baby--we all know that age affects one (laughs). And Bruce seems to have given up. And then something happens that makes something come back: youth. A youth comes back into his life. And he can't tolerate…it's kind of what New York was like. New York was becoming a hell-hole and nobody was coming here anymore. And I'm a New Yorker…it was awful. And then it changed. It got turned around by some of our mayors and some people who really cared about this city. And now it's got this new life. And that's the same thing with this Batman. And how wonderful to be able to help breathe life into a Batman. Very cool.