As we wait for the premiere of Beware the Batman tomorrow morning on Cartoon Network, a bit more information has been released from the producers of the show regarding the new CG style as well as the various new (to TV) members of his rogues gallery. They also mention the involvement of one of the Bat Family who was previously unknown, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Glen Murukami and Mitch Watson discuss the show below, courtesy of CBR:
[box_light]There are have been a number of Batman shows before this, regardless of the one the came directly before — Glen, I know you’ve worked on a number of those. For each of you, what was the thing where you said, “This is what we have to do in our show to make it feel different and stand out”?
Watson: For me, it came when Glen and I hooked up. Right off the bat, we found we had similar sensibilities. We both like the same kinds of movies, and we’re both big fans of the late ’60s/early ’70s. So we said, “Let’s go way back and look at the really early Batman stuff.” And in all those early appearances, Batman was really a detective. That’s what I found most exciting and grabbed onto. He was a serious gumshoe. I wanted to look at that aspect of him, as well as the psychological aspect of a man who, because his parents were killed, has dedicated his life to solving crimes and protecting the city he loves. For me, that was what spoke to me as a direction to go into.
Glen Murakami: While we were developing the show, I think we focused on different aspect of the character that hadn’t been the main focus before. I don’t think we’re saying, we don’t like what came before. We just wanted a different way of approaching it. I went and looked at the Batman comics and said, “What can we do differently?” So many people just want to go, “Here’s Joker. Here’s Harley. Here’s Two-Face. Here’s Penguin.” There’s been a lot of that, so why not focus on different aspects of the character and his world?
Visually, we’re doing CGI for the first time. What does that let us do differently about this character? I think the feel was a little more contemporary because of that. It’s not art deco or gothic. We also said, “Why do this photo realistically? What’s the point of making it animated if you can’t add some quality that’s fun or visually interesting?” We just tried to approach all of that in a different direction.
Another thing Mitch and I talked about was making this more like a police procedural. What’s funny is, we were talking about that direction, but it wasn’t until it all came together visually that we realized it doesn’t actually feel 100% like that. The mechanics of the stories feel that way, but the show is much bigger than we talked about at the start. It kept getting bigger and bigger in some ways.
One of the things people have really picked up on is the supporting cast, from Katana playing a central role to Batman squaring off against villains like Professor Pyg. Was that casting a matter of looking for players who better fit that detective/procedural idea of a Batman show?
Watson: Yes. We didn’t just sort of randomly pick villains from the lunch cart, as it were. We specifically wanted villains who were going to be able to highlight different aspects of Batman’s personality. We didn’t just want to tell stories where we went, “This dude is robbing a bank or hijacking a plane” or whatever. We didn’t want to tell those stories at all. It’s all about these villains and how they affect a different dynamic with Batman. It really works because you’ve seen so many shows and so many comics that focus on Catwoman’s relationship with Batman or the Joker and Penguin’s relationship with Batman. It’s hard to tell anything new or see any new nuances with those stories. But when you stick a character in there like Professor Pyg or Magpie or Anarky, suddenly the relationship completely changes. These aren’t characters you’re used to see Batman playing against, so we get to see different aspects of Batman’s personality while also exploring aspects of the new characters’ personalities. It gives the characters a new vibe and really opens the show up.
Murakami: Another thing is, if we’re going to do the show in CG, do we want to see guys in regular suits or street clothes fighting Batman? That was a thing for us. We needed to pick characters who looked visually interesting in 3D or showed something you hadn’t seen before. We wanted the villains to have a strong look or a theme or even something you haven’t seen Batman fight because it provides more fun in three dimensions. Like, they don’t do reactive lighting very well in 2D. You can kind of fake it, but in this show, we can take an all-black Batman and put him in an all-black room and let light and shadows play around him. We felt like that’s something people hadn’t seen before.
How are you developing this show over the course of the season? I feel like there’s been a movement for a lot of superhero shows to go not only light in tone but also go very episodic, where you just watch any episode in any order, and they’re all easily understood.On the other hand, Warner Bros. has had some DC shows that are more continuity heavy across each season. How do you approach the storytelling challenge of doing cool one-off episodes while also possibly building a longer arc?
Watson: That’s pretty much how we approached things. I’ve been doing this job a while, so you have to come at it from two perspectives. You have to keep in mind the perspective of the network and the way these shows are going to air, where you never know when they’ll be on. In syndication, they may be shown out of order. That said, you can also seed in a bigger story. The way that this show works, I don’t think I’m telling too many tales out of school when I say it’s broken into two halves. There’s a particular story we’re telling in the first half, and a particular story we’re telling in the second half. You can still watch all the shows completely out of order, and they’ll still make sense. But for those who want to follow along in order, a lot of what we’re doing is not so much, “Here’s a clue!” as it is watching the characters change. You’ll see how Batman changes over the show as well as characters like Barbara Gordon or Lt. Gordon or Katana or Alfred. Every one of those characters will change, or this just becomes “Law & Order.”
Murakami: The characters drive the story — the character development and their own stories. It’s not just Batman and Bruce Wayne but the whole cast. There is an arc for each of them. You have to have that, or there’s no drama or tension.[/box_light]
You can check out more of the interview at the link up top, and below we have a new clip from tomorrow’s premiere featuring Batman, Alfred, and mentioning not only Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad, but also Michael Holt, who is better known in the comics as Mr. Terrific:
Be sure to check out the premiere tomorrow morning at 10am on Cartoon Network!