The Bruce Timm Interview: The Sequel
by Jim Harvey
It's been almost a year since Justice League hit the airwaves on Cartoon Network. Since it's November premiere, fans have been able to enjoy the adventures of Earth's Greatest Heroes, brought to you by Bruce Timm. Bruce Timm is the same man behind such critically acclaimed series as Batman, Superman, and the recent series Batman Beyond. Now, World's Finest and Toon Zone have conducted a second, all-new question & answer session with the man himself, Bruce Timm.
To read the newest from Justice League creator Bruce Timm, scroll on down! Also, You can view the first, original interview, in all its entirety, by clicking here.
If you were approached to do 13 more episodes of Batman, would you tackle them in the same fashion that you've done before, or take a new route? Explain.
Tough one. I honestly don't know what I'd do if I were asked to do more Batman. On one hand, there were a lot of things we got right the first (and second) time, but on the other hand, I hate to repeat myself, so I'd more than likely try to put some kind of fresh spin, visually or otherwise, on it. Pretty much a moot point, since it seems very unlikely I'll be doing any new Batman episodes in the immediate future...then again, who would have guessed that John Kricfalusi would ever be doing more Ren & Stimpy...?
With the animated Batman DVD doing great, sales wise, what would you like to see released on DVD (from B:TAS, S:TAS, JL, BB)? Why.
EVERYTHING!!!'Cuz it's an awesome format, that's why! Seriously, I'd love to have complete runs of all of 'em...even the stinkers like "Batman In My Basement" and "Little Big Head Man". We've been trying for years to talk the home video folks into releasing a boxed set or matching set of the [Superman: The Animated Series] Darkseid episodes at least, but so far, no luck II think they are planning on releasing more animated DCU stuff soon, so we'll just have to wait and see....
Some critics said that some of JL's first season episodes were uneven and wobbly. Do you think this coming season will be more structured and firm? Explain.
Interesting choice of adjectives there, Jim...! Maybe I'm in total George-Lucas-esque denial, but I honestly don't think the first season of JL represented any kind of radical dropping-off in quality from our previous shows. To my mind, out of the first 13 stories, only "Secret Origins" and "War World" were noticeably below-par, and even they had their moments.
Actually, i think part one of "Secret Origins" rocks...but I start losing interest somewhere in the middle of part two, and by part three, I just want it to be over...I like the Hawkgirl/GL stuff in "War World" a lot, and I still think William Smith and Eric Roberts turned in wonderfully eccecentric performances as Draaga and Mongul. The other eleven stories are all solidly entertaining, and I'd rate a few of them - "Legends", "The Enemy Below", "The Brave And The Bold" and "The Savage Time" - as some of our best episodes ever.
Our batting average has been pretty good so far. Maybe not enough home runs, but definitely lots of runs batted-in and not too many strike-outs. Y'know, this is nothing new. When Superman first came on, all I heard was "they didn't nail it like they nailed Batman" The same with the WB "revamp" Batman and Batman Beyond. Now that Justice League is on, suddenly all our previous shows are gold!
And as I've said since day one, there's no way on earth we're gonna please everybody with this show. "Batman saves the day too much" or "Batman doesn't save the day enough" or "I want Hal Jordan" or "No, I want Kyle Rayner" or " They shoulda used Aquaman instead of Hawkgirl" or "they shoulda used Hawkman instead of Hawkgirl"...etc. etc. We can't win! But that doesn't mean we're not gonna try...
Having said all that, I will admit that there were a few bugs that needed to be worked out, i.e. "wimpy Superman", the occasionally (o.k., the "pretty frequently") cliché dialogue, etc. etc....trust me, we're on it!
I don't know how "firm" or "structured" the second season is, but we've been working very hard to tighten up the scripts, to make sure the dialogue sparkles, to use the characters' various powers in fresher ways, to get more into the personal inter-relationships, etc....it's always hard to tell in advance, but I think ALL the second season scripts so far have been very strong. We just got the season premiere ep, "Twilight", back from Korea this past week, and so far, so good. In other words: it's aaawwwwesome!
With the ROTJ DVD controversy behind us with the new DVD release, what do you think about the situation looking back on it? Expand.
Well, I'd probably be a little less adamant about pushing for such edgy material...bottom line is that the home video dept. markets their cartoons directly at children. I'm very proud of ROTJ, but a "kid-friendly" movie it definitely isn't! I mean, ultimately, it all worked out; they got the "age-appropriate" version they wanted (kind of!), and we fans eventually got the nastier version WE wanted, but that whole editing and Re-editing process that we went through was torture. Like cutting the fingers off your own baby.
It would appear that, during most interviews, that you're mainly asked questions about Batman. Do you feel that your Superman show suffers from a kind of "middle child" syndrome?
Yep. Well, not only that, but Batman is just cooler....Alex Ross is gnashing his teeth even we speak. Batman's darker, edgier, just plain sexier all around. Even so, I think we did a pretty bang-up job on Superman, and it seems like it will keep finding appreciative audiences in re-runs, and hopefully someday, home video.
One of the most touching episodes of "Superman: The Animated Series" was "Apokolips Now Part Two," where Dan Turpin is killed by Darkseid. Superman pays a nice tribute to him and utters the line, "In the end, the world did not need a Super-man, just a brave one." The statement is all too true. In a post - 9/11 world, would you ever consider paying a tribute to our fallen brothers in an episode(s) of "Justice League," perhaps in a subtle way? Explain if possible.
Possibly. We don't have any such tribute planned at the moment, as there just hasn't been an appropriate opportunity to place such a scene in any of our second season shows so far, but I wouldn't be against the idea if it could be worked into the story organically.
"Batman: The Animated Series" and "Superman: The Animated Series" are loved by fans, not only for portraying the characters as human, but also for having a great supporting cast that at times were intergrak to the plot and were not simply in the background. Characters like Jim Gordon, Alfred Pennysworth, Harvey Bullock, Lois Lane, Dan Turpin, among others helped the shows progress. Despite the roster size of the "Justice League," would you consider adding some more influential supporting characters to the series?
There just isn't enough room in a show of this kind, too many characters to service in too short a time. The JL are their own supporting cast. I mean, what kind of non-super-powered recurring character could conceivably show up all the time? We have Snapper Carr, but he's basically just Exposition Lad. There will be a few brief cameos of characters from our previous shows in season two, but only because they were appropriate for those specific stories.
So far you've done a load of amazing DC animated series. Have you ever considered doing a Marvel animated series? Expand if possible.
I'd consider it, if it were the right Marvel property, and if they would give me a decent budget, and if the Powers-That-Be were in sympatico with what I'd want to do with it. A whole lotta "ifs"! Look, I'm not under contract with WBA, but I'm not planning on going anywhere. Warners treats me right, the gang at DC have always been cool and the folks at Cartoon Network couldn't be easier to work with. So, you see, the problem is, they're spoiling me rotten! But I'd consider it....
Of all the series that you have worked on, Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond and now Justice League, what do you think is your favorite scene or moment, in which episode and in what series? Explain why.
Strangely enough, considering these are all heavily action-oriented shows, my favorite moments are the emotional ones...guess I'm just a big softy! If I can provoke a strong emotional response from the audience, then I feel I've done my job right. Ahh, but there's so MANY great three-hankie scenes, it's hard to choose..."Robin's Reckoning", Dick saying goodbye to the elephant (I sobbed like a baby at the sound mix)...Alfred's little heart-to-heart at the end of "Phantasm", Efrem's awesome in that scene (funny that no one ever notices that Alfred calls him "Bruce", not "Master Bruce" for the first and only time)...practically every Mr. Freeze episode has at least one good cry in it....the last few minutes of "Last Son Of Krypton" always breaks me up, starting with Sul-Van saying "No, the last one"...the music in that sequence is one of the loveliest things Lolita's written for us..."LSoK" part two has some nice heart-tugging moments too, come to think of it: Clark rescuing the little girl from the burning camper and his first flight....God, somebody stop me....the climax of the flashback in "ROTJ" packs a wallop, Tara and Andrea Romano (subbing for Matt Valencia) are downright astonishing....the "Baby Death-trap" sequence in "Enemy Below" always gets me....when I spotted the music on that show with Mike McCuistion, I told him that he should go for the emotion of the scene, not just play it for harrowing suspense...specifically, I wanted the audience to feel Aquaman's desperate love for his son, his willingness to do anything to save him...did he nail it or what?!
Here's a fun thing: next time you watch that episode, really pay attention to the music in that scene....that soaring "heroic" melody is an amped-up version of the "Family" theme from the nursery scene in Part One (!)...if that ain't close to some kinda twisted genius....
Oh geez, what else...Harley going through the window in "Mad Love" (still can't believe they let us get away with that)..listen to that scene next time...no music, no scream, no ambient sound, just tinkling glass (it's "cinema"!)...Diana's farewell at the end of "Paradise Lost", listen to that little catch in Susan's voice on "The fates were against us, Mother...goodbye"...an episode that no one ever talks about, but nails me to the wall every time is "Earth-Mover" from BATMAN BEYOND, a real kick-ass tear-jerker...maybe it's TOO kick-ass?...GL watching his childhood heroes, the JGA, go "poof" in "Legends"...."The Savage Time" has lots of good sappy stuff....
But the "Ragnarok" of "sob scenes" is, of course, the climax of "Apokolips...Now!"...that baby fires on every emotional cylinder....I've had grown men tell me they bawled like little girls at that scene...the shock of seeing Turpin annihilated/Superman going berserk/Lois can't even watch/Superman's fury spent/the cemetery based on Jack Kirby's final resting place in Thousand Oaks/the Rabbi singing that gorgeous Kaddish/star-spangled avengers, super-spies, African princes, various comics professionals and even Luthor pay their last respects/sad but proud cops/Toby comforting a stoic but clearly destroyed Maggie Sawyer/the last few family members leaving the funeral as a soft wind blows/Superman's gentle good-bye to his friend/the last silhouetted shot as the day ends/the one-two sucker punch end titles, "Not the end..." and "Long Live The King"/all scored with impeccable good taste by Kris Carter....What's Not To Love???!!! I swear to God I'm choking up just thinking about it...
Bruce Timm is currently working on the second season of the top rated Justice League animated series for Cartoon Network.