Emru Townsend: You went to the "Year One" design for Batman's outfit. I don't understand why you changed the outfit. I understand you had it more angular, you decided to make it more black, but it's strange--most of the fans who watch the show, obviously there's going to be a large portion of fans watching it, are going to realize you're sort of going backward while you're going forward. What led to that decision?
Bruce Timm: You mean continuity-wise?
Yeah, I guess, continuity-wise.
BT: I just said I didn't care. Yeah, people will say that's the Batman: Year One look, but you know, our continuity doesn't really follow the comic book continuity anyway, so... I mean, we never had a Jason Todd [laughs] It just looks better. We thought it might confuse people a little bit, but it's really only going to confuse the real die-hard fans who think that we follow the comic-book continuity, which we don't, so...
Glen Murakami: In contrast, the darker Batman works against the other characters. It makes Batman more serious, and losing the yellow off his chest, it fits the tone. It fits the mood.
And the other two are still a bit brighter. They both have that yellow lining under their capes, which just makes them stand out. Except for Nightwing.
BT: Actually, the yellow in Batgirl's cape, that's just so that her silhouette will read. Because we decided we could make her all black, with not even a rim light on her, because we loved the idea of her moving silhouette, it would be kinda neat. And it does go back to her original look in the comic, which we kinda should have done in the first place. But we realized that if we had her nice little cute shapely form up against the black cape, you wouldn't even see her. So that's why we had to put a yellow lining in the cape.
It almost seems too bad there doesn't seem to be any more new Batman episodes in the pipeline, considering all the effort you put in the redesign.
BT: Yes and no.
GM: You never know.
BT: I would think somewhere along the line they'll probably go back and want to do more. I mean, we never thought that we would even go back and do that new batch for the WB. We thought that Batman was long gone.
GM: Who would have thought it?
BT: We never say never. Chances are it'll come back. I think there's probably a better chance of new episodes of "classic" Batman than, say, Superman. Especially if they ever get the movie franchise up and running again, create new interest in doing episodes. Because the show's been on non-stop since 1992, and it still does really well in the ratings, [and] every now and then they'll come back and say, it would really be nice to freshen up this package with a few more episodes. So it may happen some day.
Is Superman still in production?
BT: Superman is not currently in production. We have three episodes that haven't aired yet, two of which we've gotten back and we're in the middle of doing post-production on. One other episode hasn't come back yet. Those will air in the fall sometime. That actually will be the last appearance of the "classic" Batman. He makes a guest-starring appearance in one of the Superman episodes.
I was going to ask, with the various team-ups that you've done with Aquaman, the Flash, and all the other DC heroes that you've put in, sometimes updating them. The question was going to be, do you figure you're going to be doing more of that with Superman or Batman, but now I wonder about Batman Beyond. You had Mr. Freeze in there, which is kind of nice, to show that he can suffer even years into the future, poor guy. And the Royal Flush Gang, while not exactly the same as the original, who you never really showed, are still an update of classic characters. So do you see anyone coming back? And not even necessarily the people themselves. It doesn't have to be heroes, it doesn't have to be villains. But say, their descendants. I know you've never shown Green Arrow, but would, for instance, Speedy ever show up?
BT: I don't think so, for a number of reasons. The only established DC hero that will probably show up in Batman Beyond is the Huntress, just because we think she's an interesting character and we kind of want to do another female crime-fighter along the lines of Batgirl but we didn't want to just do Batgirl Beyond. We thought the Huntress would be a natural. We're actually working on a story for that right now, so the Huntress will probably be on Batman Beyond, but other than that--you'll notice that we did a lot of superhero team-ups on Superman and not very many on Batman?
Yeah, except for the occasional nod, like Zatanna.
BT: And you notice that Batman's world, strangely enough, was a little bit more realistic that Superman's world. Having a bunch of superheroes running around in Batman's world just didn't really feel true. Whereas, for some reason, if you can accept this guy from another planet running around throwing tanks around, then you can accept a guy with a power ring. But Batman, because he's just a guy, with ultra-competent detective skills and martial arts skills, we tried to limit the number of super-powered characters in his universe. So we're kind of doing the same thing with Batman Beyond.
Even going back to the first series in '92, Batman is an action show, and it's an action show that doesn't talk down, which means that we understand that people actually are in danger here. Which is pretty unusual for most animated shows in North America, especially considering it's handled so intelligently, as a general rule. When we see that someone is threatening someone else, we don't think, oh well, he's just going to get injured. There's a sense of menace. People could get killed, and in some cases they have. In Batman Animated, it's touched on briefly about getting notes back from Business Standards and Practices and such. Given that you're a Batman fan, and I assume Glen is also, from way back, I'd guess you found it something of a challenge trying to do the harder-edged Batman stories, but in a TV medium. Now on the WB, it seems as if you've managed to get some of those limitations removed, you're a little bit freer to some other things.
BT: In retrospect, I have to go back and say that the censors at Fox were actually pretty good to us for the time. For the timeframe that we were doing that series, they were letting us do stuff that they wouldn't let anybody else do, probably just because it was Batman, because Batman was such a big cultural phenomenon, so they gave us a little bit more leeway than they would give other shows. They were actually pretty good to us.
We did find out when we went to the WB that [it was] a whole different set of rules, [things] they weren't even bothered by. So that was kind of nice, yeah. [laughs] There were actually a couple of times where they would let stuff go that we would go back and look at it and say, you know, maybe we should tone that down.
BT: We would actually have to police ourselves because they were so liberal with their restrictions. So it really hasn’t been too much of a problem of trying to slip anything past them. For one reason or another, they had a lot less rigid standards than the Fox network did.
So did you actually try to slip anything past the guys at Fox?
BT: Oh, all the time. Like I said, in retrospect they were really good to us, so I shouldn't complain, but sometimes--I can understand if they say, okay, don't have this character fire his gun right into the camera. I can understand that, that's a basic no-no on almost every any cartoon. But some of their complaints were really creative. They'd have to think really hard to come up with some of the stuff they wouldn't allow us to do. Some of the stuff would just seem so random. We could never say the word "idiot", because that might offend the idiots in the audience.
BT: You know, it's like... huh? [laughs] It was stuff like that! And they had a real hard and fast rule about how you could never endanger children. I can understand that to a degree, but they would take it to an extreme.
Anytime somebody says "don't do this", it makes you work harder to do it. It's just like telling your kid "don't step in that puddle". They're gonna do whatever they can to step in that puddle. So yeah, we would try to get away with stuff on the old show.
We don't do that anymore, we've all grown up.
Why don't I believe you?