Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, Part 2 arrived on Blu-ray and DVD this week. It is a triumph in both animation and storytelling. Many fanboys argued that in splitting Frank Miller’s epic story in two, Warner Brothers was cashing in on the “Part 2 Craze”. After seeing both halves of the film, it was clear that director Jay Oliva clearly created two separate stories with appropriate act breaks to tell The Dark Knight Returns Saga. I had the chance to chat with Oliva about the film, the music, and another little project he has a hand in called The Man of Steel.
Mania: With the success of The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 and hopefully the success of Part 2, do you think you have set a precedent for longer story telling with these animated films?
Jay Oliva: It all depends on how well it sells. As for myself, I love having it broken up and separated at 78 minutes. We don’t have the kind of schedule like Pixar does with 5 years of development. We literally have one year from the time of green light to the time it gets delivered to get it done. So within that time, we only have enough time to do 75-78 minutes which is why these things have to come out really quick. That being said, if it sells well (luckily Part 1 sold well) hopefully Part 2 will sell well. It will help setting precedents so that the executives will say, “let’s do more of these multi-part stories” because, now, we have shown that it can sell. The last thing we want to do is try something and have it not work. Luckily, Harry Potter did it, Twilight did it, and that is why they said we can try Part 1 and Part 2.
Mania: How did Christopher Drake become involved with the music? Did you have any say in his scoring of the two parts?
Jay Oliva: Drake was a choice that Bruce Timm had. He is the producer. I had worked with Chris before. When Bruce had told me that we were working, Chris I said that was great. I had worked with him on Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. He is a really great guy. The great thing about working with him is that it is a collaboration. Once I have the animatic done, I walk him through the entire movie and tell him what I was thinking about here and what piece of music here. I know nothing about music. I leave it up to him. I then sit in a room with Bruce and him and they make the big decisions and I try and chime in every once in a while. They know their music better than I do. I just wanted it to have an eighties feel.
Mania: How does a director tackle The Dark Knight Returns and make two parts of it?
Jay Oliva: Parts 1 and 2 are meant to be one long movie. What you will see is that it is great that it fits by itself, as does Part 2. When you watch them as a whole, I purposely made them so the pacing of Part 1 is different from Part 2. If I made 1 bigger than Part 2, then I have nowhere to go in terms of pacing and how I build towards a climax. If you look at Part 1 and Part 2 together, you will see a slow kind of burn. Once you hit Part 2, it will just start getting faster and faster. You’ll actually see little callbacks to Part 1 in Part 2.
Mania: Are there any other stories you would like to do?
Jay Oliva: I would love to do the “Long Halloween”. “Kingdom Come” would be great, but I don’t know how we would do that in this format. There are a lot of things I would like to see. We have a few things we’re working on the shadows, but I can’t tell you about them right now.
Mania: Finally, as your are the storyboard artist for Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel, is there anything you can tell us about the film?
Jay Oliva: Uh... I can say it is really cool. I can say I have seen some of it and it’s awesome.
Mania: Was it hard for you, as the storyboard artist, to re-imagine some of the more iconic moments that have come before?
Jay Oliva: No, not really. Remember, I have been working on these Warner Brothers/ DC projects a long time now. I’ve been doing superhero stuff for the last ten years. When I was on Man of Steel, I had to try and not do things I had already done, which is a hard. When you watch The Dark Knight Part 2, there are some scenes in there that I had to purposely not do because I had done something similar to that in Man of Steel. I wanted to make something different and not use the same material. The great thing about working on The Man of Steel after working on these animated projects was that I was already prepared to do Superman stuff. In working with Zach, I immediately jumped into the role because I knew superheroes like the back of my hand. It was a nice, easy fit. Zach would say, “what about this?’ and I would tell him it was cool but we had done it already in All Star Superman or something else. It really was a nice collaboration.