At the San Diego Comic-Con today, Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Animation presented their new animated series, “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” premiering in the fall. Superhero Hype! is giving you an exclusive online look at what the audience at the Con saw followed by an exclusive interview with producer and character designer James Tucker and voice director Andrea Romano.
In “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” the latest interpretation of the classic Batman franchise, our caped crusader is teamed up with heroes from across the DC Universe, delivering nonstop action and adventure with a touch of comic relief. Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, Aquaman and countless others will get a chance to uphold justice alongside Batman. Though still based in Gotham, Batman will frequently find himself outside city limits, facing situations that are both unfamiliar and exhilarating. With formidable foes around every corner, Batman will still rely on his stealth, resourcefulness and limitless supply of cool gadgets to bring justice home.
And here is our interview with Tucker and Romano:
SHH!: James, you’ve had a long history with Batman over the years â€“ working on many of the animated series. What can we expect different and new from “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” (B&B)?
James Tucker: “The Brave and The Bold” is going to take a more light-hearted action oriented angle on the super hero genre. It’ll focus more on high adventure mixed with a sense of humor than has been the trend lately in super hero films and television shows. We’ll be showing different sides of Batman’s character when he’s dealing with a different hero every week. So there are lots of new gadgets, new takes on villains and heroes – with a healthy dose of fun.
SHH!: “Justice League” was targeted at an older crowd, “Teen Titans” was targeted at the ‘anime’ fans – what is the audience for “The Brave and the Bold”?
Tucker: The target audience for “The Brave and the Bold” is broadly based but I believe it works demographically for 6-15. It fits well within Cartoon Network’s new initiative for boy’s action/adventures shows. Of course, we’re making it so that anyone who enjoys comic books/superheroes and is a “kid at heart “will get something out of it. It will help if their point of reference goes back further than ‘Dark Knight Returns’ though. I’ll put it this way, if someone’s idea of super hero entertainment is reading the Wayne Foundation Annual report, this show isn’t for them.
Andrea Romano: Hopefully a wide range of audience members… people who are Batman fans and are interested in seeing a version that’s not as “campy” as the Adam West series (which I grew up watching, too), nor as dark as “Batman The Animated” series… but somewhere in between.
SHH!: I love the retro-blue style of Batman for B&B â€“ describe the (re)design of the character(s).
Tucker: Thanks, that’s good to hear given some of the (over)reactions the early development art received on the internet. Basically, the look I wanted for this show was to emphasize the old school, comic book art look (notice I didn’t say graphic novel) or rather comics before they got overly sophisticated and airbrushed. I wanted the look of off-set printing on newsprint. So the look of the show is more streamlined, with a thicker hand inked look to it. My influences were primarily the major ’40s and ’50s Batman artist, Dick Sprang – with a bit of Jack Kirby’s dynamism thrown in. I originally storyboarded a Dick Sprang inspired segment in a “Batman: New Adventures” episode called “Legends of the Dark Knight.” It was so much fun that I always said if I ever got tapped to do a Batman-based series of my own, that would be the visual angle I wanted to use. I’m grateful that DC comics, Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network had the faith to let me do it.
SHH!: The comic (B&B) has been around since 1955, and in the ’70s became a showcase for team-ups with Batman and many DC characters â€“ will we see any of those classic stories adapted for the new animated series?
Tucker: So far, we haven’t done any literal adaptations of those stories since we wanted to set our own tone and establish some of the newer characters we’re using like the new Blue Beetle first. But adaptations, where appropriate, are definitely an option.
SHH!: Will this new series fit into any established continuity with any of the other animated series? (JL, JLU, BTAS etc..)
Tucker: This is totally its own thing. We purposely avoided any potential DC animated connections on this. Usually that’s something as producers that we can’t help but do. The Legion show I produced had a few. And even in “Superman: Doomsday,” the Legion version of young Superman can be seen briefly floating in the clone vats of Luthor’s lab. And conversely, we ended up using “Superman: Doomsday’s Fortress of Solitude” in The Legion show. But “Batman: The Brave and The Bold” is a completely new concept for the DC animated universe.
SHH!: Describe the Batman for the new B&B series. He seems less dark & brooding and more fun-filled adventurer? Tone of the show?
Tucker: Well, the way you described it is pretty much on the mark. This is just the version of Batman that has been in the comics from shortly after his creation up until some of the darker, grittier versions of his character appeared in the late ’80s and onward. We don’t pretend like his parents weren’t killed in an alley, but that’s not the jumping off point for this series. This is a team-up show more so than just another Batman show, so Batman has to show more sides of himself than if he’s just brooding, being gruff and distant to his usual cast of characters. He acts like a real person and has a variety of emotions. And he has to be more approachable for the premise of this show. Otherwise, why would anyone even bother to work with him? It’s pretty much the Batman from the “Brave and the Bold” comics I read as a kid.
Romano: I absolutely agree. He is less “brooding”… not as obsessed with vengeance as in the past… One thing I really like about the format of this series is that we get inside his head… get to hear what he’s thinking before he acts.
SHH!: Diedrich Bader is the new voice of Batman, he has a solid history doing animated voices â€“ what drew you to him for the Caped Crusader?
Tucker: We wanted someone who was able to incorporate the tough, hardened side of Batman with some warmth. Diedrich’s Batman is at his core a decent guy with high morals, a strong work ethic, whose prime motivation is to defend the weak and innocent. Those qualities really come out in Diedrich’s voice work and it doesn’t hurt that he’s that kind of guy in real life too.
Romano: When I was given the breakdown for the casting on this version of Batman, my first thought was “Deidrich Bader”… he has the nice size and depth to the tone of his voice, he has voiceover experience, (we had already done a series together), he’s a good, versatile actor, and he’s great with comedy. After doing many auditions, Deidrich was everyone’s choice. There were several other actors who were quite good, but Deidrich was clearly everyone’s favorite. On an interesting note, many of the actors who auditioned for Batman and didn’t get that role have been cast in other recurring roles. We also had to keep in mind that Batman is the only character who appears in every single episode. He is the lead and has to be perfect.
SHH!: Any old favorites coming back to do voices? Mark Hamill as Joker?
Tucker: Andrea and I agreed that it would be wiser to create unique voices for these versions of the characters, especially when it came to actors who had become indelibly identified with roles they had on earlier versions of B:TAS or JLU. However that doesn’t mean those actors won’t be doing other parts in the show.
Romano: There will be appearances by many voice actors who have worked with me before… and some exciting new actors, too.
SHH!: Will we see Batman (B&B) stay put in Gotham City or will the series take him out of his comfort zone?
Tucker: Just like The original “The Brave and the Bold” comic, this show takes Batman out of Gotham on a regular basis. We wanted to take advantage of how that book would Batman in different settings from Atlantis to Mars, different eras jumping between the future and the past, and across different genres from sci-fi to horror. It keeps the viewer guessing, and quite frankly, it’s more interesting to those of us who are making the show.
Tucker: Eventually….oh, and to kill speculation ahead of time, it’s Dick Grayson.
SHH!: Who from the rouges-gallery of villains can we expect to see in the first year?
Tucker: Since this isn’t strictly a true Batman show, we’re not going to deal with any of the usual Batman rogues. That’s not to say there won’t be any.
SHH!: Batman has teamed up with just about everyone at some point either in the comics or in animation â€“ what sort of surprises can we expect and what would be your uber-team-up for Batman?!
Tucker: Of course, they wouldn’t be surprises if I told. I think that after the direction Batman’s character has taken in recent years, fans will find this more old school but still contemporary take on our hero to be refreshing. My uber-team-up would be Batman and the Super-Sons actually. Or maybe Prez….(just joking). I don’t really have an ultimate Batman team-up in my head right now. Every team-up we’ve done so far has been intriguing to me – it’s really apples and oranges. Batman and Captain Marvel is on my wish list though, that’s for sure.
SHH!: Any opinions about Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”?
Tucker: The thing I love about the character of Batman is how malleable he is. “The Dark Knight” is very dark – but it’s still Batman. Our Batman is a decidedly more optimistic take on how a person overcomes childhood tragedy. It’s an interesting time to be a Batman fan because between all the DVDs, movies and television shows, there is a Batman that suits everyone. That’s a real tribute to what an amazing character he is.
SHH!: What is your ultimate hope for this new series, what do you think will be the reaction of Batman fans to it?
Romano: There is never any way to judge how an audience will react. Each time we try to be creative and give each show its own distinct personality. I try to be sure that I’m happy with the work we are doing and that we are faithful to both the characters and plots. The best part is that when we do it well – the fans enthusiastically follow.
Tucker: Well, ultimately I want it to be a huge friggin’ hit! Any producer who doesn’t tell you that about their show is on something. But apart from that, my genuine hope is that it finds an audience with families and people looking for a fun, action-packed take on superheroes. These are quite frankly pretty depressing times, and I think a fun, up-beat show is something that is basically counter-programming to what we’re dealing with in real life these days. On a personal level, I’m really proud of this show because it’s truly the version Batman that got me interested in comics and superheroes in the first place so it’s been a dream project for me. Thanks for taking the time to interview me and giving coverage to this version of Batman.