CCI: "Batman: Brave and Bold" Preview Screening

Fri, July 25th, 2008 at 11:05pm PDT | Updated: July 25th, 2008 at 11:31pm

TV/Film
Timothy Callahan, Columnist/Reviewer

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Editor's Note: The "Batman: Brave and The Bold" trailer can be seen on CBR here!

Gorilla Grodd faces off against Batman and Plastic Man.

Fans of the Darknight Detective were treated to a special teaser of "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" this past Friday morning at Comic-Con International in San Diego. The light-hearted new animated series, scheduled for a November 14th debut on Cartoon Network, was presented by a large contingent of producers, writers, and directors, including show-runner James Tucker and voice director Andrea Romano.

Also on hand were Diedrich Bader (voice of the new Batman), Sam Register (Executive Vice President at Warner Brothers), Michael Jelenic (story editor), Brandon Vitti (director), Ben Jones (director), and Michael Chang (director).

The show, which takes a much lighter, action-packed approach to Batman than recent interpretations of the character, was inspired by the work of legendary Batman artist Dick Sprang. Christian Bale and Heath Ledger this is not.

Producer James Tucker said, "Batman's a dark, tortured, anguished character. And we decided not to do that." Tucker described going "back to Batman's friendlier roots." "He's still kick-ass," said Tucker, "but he's the Batman you knew as a kid. Unless you were a kid in 1992."

Warner VP Sam Register, who spoke with great fondness of Tucker's approach to the series, said the spark of the series was, "what if we took the Adam West title sequence and gave it some balls?"

The producers revealed that the series won't take place in Gotham City. It's a new approach for Batman, at least in animation.

Writer and story editor Michael Jelenic said that Batman's usual supporting characters won't be around in "Batman: The Brave and the Bold." Jelenic said, "No Alfred, really, No Commissioner Gordon." Instead, the series will team Batman up with DC heroes from throughout comic book history. "We're basically bringing in the whole DC Universe," said Jelenic.

Tucker spoke more about the Dick Sprang influence, and said that Sprang "has the same energy as Jack Kirby, and I wanted to bring that into the show." Tucker realized that Batman and Gotham and the rogues gallery had been done before, and done very well, so he had to come up with a new approach that would feel exciting. "I wanted to do something different and fresh that wouldn't pale in comparison," said Tucker.

Batman and Aquaman take on Black Manta

The producers described taking more than just a general influence from Dick Sprang. They tried to replicate some of his page layouts and designs, and the animators used a thick black line that hasn't been seen in Batman animation before.

With that, the highlight reel was screened for the crowd. Filled with a deep bass line and a jaunty rhythm, the reel showed dynamic action and a wide range of characters like the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle, Plastic Man, the Golden Age Green Arrow and Fire, from the classic Keith Giffen/Kevin Maguire "Justice League International" run.

Villains shown in the reel included Gorilla Grodd, Gentleman Ghost, and Kanjar Ro.

After the brief screening, which ended in roars and applause from the fans in attendance, Register commented upon the need to break away from recent animated versions of Batman. "We had seen Batman done really well -- I think B:TAS, best animated series ever," said Register. And he said, "I had a really scary lunch with Bruce Timm, and he said, 'Why don't you do a friendlier version of it?'" Register felt that Timm's comments gave him permission to bring a lighter, more upbeat tone to the series. It's in keeping with classic Batman stories from the comics, as Register explained. He said, "it's only in the last ten years that he's been, like, Dracula."

The producers discussed how the series was basically Batman and anyone BUT Robin.

Some of the guest stars mentioned include Red Tornado, Wildcat, Black Canary, Aquaman, along with the previously mentioned Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, and Green Arrow.

And, as Register teased, "In the final two-parter, he's going to team up with someone REALLY fan friendly."

Diedrich Bader, long known for his comedy chops, talked about playing the stright man in the new series.

Bader discussed how he wakes up now and growls, "I'm Batman." "Which is nice," he joked, "because in my household, I'm Alfred."

Bader added, "It's an incredibly fun part," and "It's a good show. It's light, but still in keeping with the spirit of Batman."

Then Bader did the Batman voice, to the delight of the crowd.

Voice director Andrea Romano revealed some of the other voice talent who would appear in "Batman: The Brave and the Bold." "James Arnold Taylor as Green Arrow," said Romano. "R. Lee Ermey as Wildcat. John Dimaggio as Aquaman."

Bader joked, "The Penguin is played by Dick Cheney."

Batman teams up with Red Tornado

"Tom Kenney as Plastic Man," said Romano, clearly not joking, but receiving cheers and applause nonetheless.

Jelenic discussed some of the villains who will appear, like the Gentleman Ghost and Gorilla Grodd, and some lesser-known characters like Kite-Man and "Zebra Man may make an appearance at some point," said Jelenic. The producers promised more villains never before seen in Batman animation before.

With both co-stars and villains, the producers tried to avoid traditional Batman characters. Register explained, "we're trying to stay away from characters Batman has an established relationship with."

As to why they decided to go with the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle instead of the Ted Kord incanration, Register said, "they did research, and the [Reyes] Blue Beetle tested as high as Batman when they tested him." Describing the appeal of the new Blue Beetle, Register said, "it's as if Iron Man and Spider-Man had a ninja baby."

Tucker said ominously, "We know Ted Kord's good too," implying that we might see that character sometime in the future.

"We may see the Flash," hinted Tucker.

When asked about Adam West possibly appearing as a voice actor on the show, Romano said she would use him as soon as she could.

At the microphone line, two grim and gritty Batmen waited to ask questions. The first asked about the target audience for this series. "Ages 6 to 100," was Tucker's response.

Register added, "Did anyone see the new 'GI Joe' animation yesterday? Snake Eyes thows knives into heads. It's not that. We wanted to make sure there's a Batman for everybody," he said.

During the Q&A session, a few other character appearances were revealed: the Huntress (who will be the subject of Blue Beetle's amorous attention), and the Justice Society. "They exist in this world," said Tucker.

Also revealed in the Q&A: Will Freidle was revealed as the voice of Blue Beetle. And the Batmobile will be able to transform into a bat-plane and a bat-boat.

Instead of revealing more guest stars and voice actors, Register closed out the panel with the message: "Wait until November 14th--Cartoon Network. Watch."

TAGS:  cci2008, batman, brave and the bold, blue beetle, green arrow

 
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