Blast got the chance to ask a few questions of animation legend Bruce Timm, the originator of the classic “Batman: The Animated Series.” Timm also produced DC’s latest animated feature “Wonder Woman” which was released on DVD and Blu-Ray yesterday.
Kellen Rice: How was the experience working on Wonder Woman different from on Gotham Knight?
Bruce Timm: Wonder Woman has been completely different in that for “Batman: Gotham Knight,” most of the pre-production work was done by the Japanese creators and animators – and they were all half a world away. The actual process was completely different, right down to having to do a scratch track of all the dialogue for the initial animation and then recording the actors in ADR. “Wonder Woman” allowed us to be much more hands-on, working closely with the writer and director and crew throughout the entire process.
KR: The first short in “Gotham Knight” was about the different concepts of Batman thanks to the huge variety of Batmans (Batmen?) in the comics, cartoons, and films. Did the comparative lack of modern material on the solo Wonder Woman make the film more or less challenging for you as a filmmaker? In short, how is it working with a lesser known character versus, say, Batman?
BT: There’s plenty of material on Wonder Woman, and we pulled from a lot of the best of it. What was liberating in some ways was that we didn’t have a set story to follow. This film wasn’t based on one single graphic novel or comic series. In “Superman Doomsday” and “Justice League: The New Frontier,” one of the things that gave us grief – and I know it bothered the fans – was that we had to trim pieces of the original material to create one cohesive, tight, 75-minute story. We got to work the opposite way in “Wonder Woman,” building a story that not only fit the time constraints but also told an entire story without having to omit key plot points or things the fans were hoping to see translate from the comics to the film.
KR: The voice talent in this film was outstanding. Aside from making the film as good as it can be, what effect do the big-name stars have on the film and its reception?
BT: The conversation surrounding casting for the DCU films always starts with a focus on who will be the best voice for each part, which actor will best fit each role, and who will bring something special to the table. We do seek “name” talent to help our marketing and publicity teams, but never to the detriment of the film. I think we’ve been quite successful thus far in finding great, new voices for some classic roles, and bringing back some old favorites. And in terms of talent, I think the casts speak for themselves.
KR: You’ve worked with Nathan Fillion on “Wonder Woman” as well as a great deal of the so-called Joss Whedon crew – David Boreanaz, James Marsters, Alexis Denisof, Juliet Landau, etc. Do you plan on watching “Dollhouse” and if so, do you plan on using any of the actors for future DC projects?
BT: I am watching “Dollhouse,” and I am enjoying it. I’m intrigued by it, and I don’t know where it’s going yet. Joss has got a real eye for acting talent, so I kind of use as many of those people as I can. I do that because one, I’m a fan, and two, they’re all terrific talented actors.
KR: After years of being a part of what today’s grown-up fans consider definitive works, how do you view your past work? What’s your reaction to viewing, say, “Heart of Ice” from “Batman The Animated Series” today? How do you think you’ve changed as an artist since then?
BT: I actually find it difficult to go back and watch my old stuff. I appreciate its relative value, especially considering the time during which it was made, and the restrictions we had in terms of technology and such. These days there’s so much competition and there’s such a variety of terrific stuff in animation that it really keeps me on my toes, and have to keep pushing the outside of my own envelope.
KR: How have you changed or evolved as an artist?
BT: Don’t have time. Don’t have time for that answer! I’m too close to myself to know how much I’ve changed. I know that the Batman shows had an enormous impact on, not just animation but spilling over into the comics. It’s cool, and it’s also very weird that I see people out there, where even if they’re not directly influenced by me, they be influenced by somebody by somebody two generations earlier — influenced by somebody who was influenced by somebody who was influenced by by me. So it’s weird to have all these great-grandchildren. It’s flattering, but it’s also kind of weird. It makes me feel old.