Before the screening of ‘Batman and Harley Quinn’ at San Diego Comic Con, members of the cast and crew took the time to sit down with the press for some interviews, and I was lucky enough to be able to talk to some of the big names behind the latest DC animated movie. On hand for the interviews were executive producer Bruce Timm, director Sam Liu, writer James Krieg, the voice of Batman Kevin Conroy, Paget Brewster (Poison Ivy), and Kevin Michael Richardson (Floronic Man). While I did not have time to speak to everyone, I did manage to speak with Bruce Timm, Jim Krieg, and Kevin Conroy about the latest film, and hear their thoughts about seeing Batman back in action again.
Kevin Conroy was up first, and we had a lot of questions about the tone of ‘Batman and Harley Quinn,’ which looks to be a lot more comedic than other DC animated movies. We asked if Batman would be cracking any jokes, but Conroy explained that while Batman does not make any jokes, “What makes it funny is that Batman is the constant,” meaning that he is the straight man to the craziness of Harley, saying “I got to play humor by dead panning a lot.” He went on to say that even during ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ “the guest characters, the villains, have always been the color of the show.”
We next asked about his process while getting into the Batman character, and he told us that “it’s about going to a very dark place inside,” elaborating by saying that for him, “I’ve approached it as a stage play from the beginning… My performance is always based on the script that they give me.” In light of the recent passing of Adam West, the question was also brought up about his memories of working with West on ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ in the ‘Grey Ghost’ episode, and he told us about the words West gave him about taking up the torch of playing Batman, “Have a blast, it’s yours now. Have fun with it.” Conroy concluded the interview by telling us that the best part about playing Batman all these years is “the fact that they keep asking me to do it.”
Next our table had the pleasure of speaking with Jim Krieg, writer of the film, who informed us that the idea for doing a Batman and Harley Quinn story, and making it more comedic, had already been worked out by Bruce Timm even before he came on board. We were very excited about how the story and style seemed to be a return to ‘Batman: The Animated Series,’ and Krieg informed us that he had been told the movie would be ‘Batman: The Animated Series adjacent… just like ‘The Animated Series,’ but silly.” When we asked if Harley would take any cues from her most recent incarnation in the ‘Suicide Squad’ movie, he explained that this was “not ‘Suicide Squad’ Harley, it’s OLD SCHOOL Harley… it had to be the ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ Harley.” As far as writing comedy for Batman, which we guessed would have been the biggest challenge, Krieg said that part of the humor comes from the fact that the Batman of this film was “even more rigid than we’re used to seeing him…[making him and Harley] the ultimate odd couple.”
Lastly we got to speak with Bruce Timm himself, who I was very excited to meet in person, especially knowing that he was the man who helped start the DC Animated “renaissance” back in the 90s with ‘Batman: The Animated Series.’ We asked about the new film’s connection to the 90s series, and he told us that the idea came from the ‘Harlequinade’ episode of the series, and that “now that there’s 30 of them [DC Animated movies], I can get away with bringing back the old school style.” He also pointed out that “‘Suicide Squad’ helped sell the movie to the Home Movies people…an opportunity to bring back classic Harley for one last drive around the block.” However, he was quick to point out that work on the film began before ‘Suicide Squad’ came out, and the film was not a reaction to how the character was portrayed in that movie.
When asked about bringing back actors from the old series, Timm told us “I always love working with the actors… I hadn’t worked with Loren Lester (Nightwing) in a long time.” One of our last questions was a somewhat important one for the fans, because we wanted to know if the new film was a continuation of ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ since the style harkened back to the old show, and he brought back so many of the voice actors. Timm was quick to state “I think of it as being in canon” which should settle the matter, but he did leave himself some wiggle room in case fans find some continuity errors.
It was an amazing roundtable experience, and great to finally meet some of the talent behind one of my favorite shows from when I was a kid (who am I kidding, I still love ‘Batman: The Animated Series’). And knowing the new movie is basically part of the same canon makes me even more excited when it is released.
‘Batman and Harley Quinn’ will have a one night nationwide theatrical release on August 14. Fans can own “Batman and Harley Quinn” on Digital HD starting August 15, 2017 via purchase from digital retailers and on Ultra HD Blu-Ray Combo Pack, Blu-Ray Deluxe Gift set, Blu-Ray Combo Pack and DVD starting August 29.