Following Friday’s awesome Batman: The Brave & the Bold panel at the San Diego Comic Con, I got the opportunity to sit down one-one with members of the cast of the show.
I took a minute to chat with two pint-sized crime fighters who arrived on the scene. I happened to know that they worked closely with the main Bat himself, Mr. Diedrich Bader who provides the voice of Batman.
During the panel, Diedrich brought his two kids on stage and showed off their costumes. His adorable daughter was dressed as a fairy princess of some sort while his son was dressed as Moon Knight. Moon Knight?!?! This is the stuff that Cons are made of. I can’t imagine how cool it would be to have Batman as a dad… so I figured I’d go straight to the horse’s mouth and ask the Bader kids what it was like. After securing the consent of Mrs. Batman – er, Mrs. Bader, I asked the kids how they felt.
Diedrich’s son Sebastian informed me that having Batman as a dad was, in fact, “awesome” and when I asked him about whether or not he read comics, the answer given was “totally!” His younger sister Ondine was considerably more shy and didn’t have much to add, but I’m fairly certain she felt the same way. We discussed his dad’s singing voice and how much fun he was but the interview took a more serious tone when I asked Sebastian who his favorite comic book character was.
“All of them” he assured me, gesturing with both hands to make sure I got the point. “All of them.”
Sensing that the future of geekery was in good hands, I made my way over to Michael Jelenic, one of the producers and story editors for the show. I asked him about the decision to go with such a kid-friendly tone after years of more adult animated fare.
“At the end of the day, there’s always gonna be a Batman cartoon on because we have to sell Batman toys.” Jelenic told me, “So all the shows are supposed to be kid friendly. Our approach was ‘how can we make a show that’s kid friendly but still appeal to fanboys?’ So we decided to swing the pendulum back to sort of the Adam West era because frankly, Dark Knight took Batman as dark as he could go. We can’t be that. We can’t be what Batman:TAS is so the approach is to do the opposite of that.”
Back in the day, comic books were primarily thought of as kids stuff but over time have graduated to the point where the average reader of superhero comics are adults. Batman: The Brave and the Bold seems to be an attempt to hook new, younger viewers and in turn new comic book readers. Mr. Jelenic confirmed my thoughts…
“Most comic book readers are adults, so if we want future comic book readers, we need to introduce kids to a younger generation. A good thing about our show is that it doesn’t just introduce young kids to Batman, but pretty much the entire DC Universe. Characters most mainstream people have never heard of before.”
A lot of characters mainstream people have never heard of before. As a matter of fact, there are a few characters on that show that even the DC die-hards might not have heard of or perhaps have forgotten. I asked Jelenic if there was any sort of competition among the writers. With all of the crazy, obscure characters, were the writers actually trying to outdo each other with oddball characters?
“There’s definitely that.
The teasers give them an opportunity to showcase characters who don’t necessarily deserve a whole episode. And so whenever I’m doing research and come across an obscure character – Haunted Tank is a good example – it’s like: This the most ridiculous character ever… he’s gonna be in a teaser now!”
Jelenic commented on the ability to make an uncool character cool, such as Detective Chimp. By embracing the absurdness and playing Detective Chimp like James Bond, you get a lot of humor and have a lot of fun with it.
And of course, I had to ask about the backlash. We’ve seen it on Mania as well as other websites: the absurd notion that Batman can’t be anything other than an ultra-grim defender of justice who lacks any sort of sense of humor… despite the fact that most comic book readers grew up with a Batman who was anything but grim and/or gritty. Jelenic was unfazed by any naysayers and in fact, has heard a lot more positive reaction than negative. And when it comes to those who feel that the new show has in some way “ruined” Batman… they simply don’t get it.
“To be quite honest, I was surprised when the first show aired: it wasn’t even our strongest episode. I was surprised that it was embraced as well as it was. I was expecting a backlash. There are people on message boards, ‘oh this is terrible’ – but you can’t take those people seriously because they don’t necessarily get what we’re trying to do. It’s fine not to like the show… but to hate it so much that they think that we’ve ruined the character?!? It’s like looking at a kids drawing and saying That’s terrible! Why did you do that?!”
Batman: the Brave and the Bold currently airs on the Kids WB network. The first volume of the series will be available on DVD August 25, 2009 and the second volume on November 10 (which, perhaps not so coincidentally, is my birthday). You better believe I’ll be first in line to pick ‘em up!