Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bruce Timm Steps Down At DC Animation

Bruce Timm Steps Down At DC Animation
By: Jay 

Bruce Timm’s name has been synonymous with DC Animation since the 1992 debut of Batman: The Animated Series. Since then Timm went on to bring Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and its spin-off Justice League Unlimited to the small screens before launching DC’s Direct-To-DVD movies in 2007 with Superman Doomsday. But now, after 21 years, the face of DC Animation is stepping down. Timm initially stepped down from his position to focus his energies on Green Lantern: The Animated Series as well as his own works, but since the cancellation of Green Lantern: The Animated Series Timm will be departing DC Animation to work on his own projects.

Bruce Timm may be leaving his position as Supervisor Producer, but his mark on DC Animation and the DC Universe as a whole will be felt for generations to come. During his tenure Timm created some memorable characters that became so popular that the small screen wasn’t enough and they made the transition to the comics. Most notable characters are Terry McGuiness (Batman Beyond), Mercy Graves, Livewire, Detective Renee Montoya, and perhaps the most popular Harley Quinn.

When one door closes another one opens and the door marked Supervising Producer is opening up for James Tucker. Tucker isn’t new to DC Animation. He shared designer duties with Timm on Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League, and served as producer for Legion of Super Heroes and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. He also has director credits on Batman Beyond, Static Shock, Legion of Super Heroes and next month's Direct-To-DVD Superman Unbound.

“Bruce had done a lot since Justice League Unlimited ended,” Tucker explains, “so it’s been quite a haul. I can’t speak for him, but I think going out on Dark Knight Returns was a special thing for him. If he was going to make the break that seemed like a good time.”

Tucker plans to “shake things up a bit,” while keeping things moving in the “right” direction and delivering the same level of quality as his predecessor.  Tucker continues by saying, “I’d love to use more of a variety of characters, but that’s something I don’t have control over. Granted Dark Knight Returns was long overdue to be adapted and I’m glad they did it and did it superbly. But beyond that, I’m not really interested in replicating, image by image, word for word, something that was in a comic book, because you can’t replicate that experience or feeling. You’re basically getting a secondary experience, so you have to make it your own in order to make it work as a movie. Creating films in which people are going through it with a checklist saying, ‘Okay, they took that out, they took that out…' I’m not interested in doing anything like that.”

One thing Tucker plans on doing is addressing a concern that many fans of the animated movies have expressed: that the movies are predominantly focused on Batman, Superman and the Justice League, while paying little attention to the other characters in the DC Universe. This is not to say that DC didn’t make attempts with movies featuring Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, as well the series of short films under the DC Showcase title, but the sales didn’t reach the levels that the company would have liked to have seen. “Our challenge,” he continues, “is that people want us to do these other characters, but if they don’t sell that threatens the whole line. So the way to do it is to be smart. If we know we’re going to use Superman, Batman and the Justice League, how do we use them as gateways to these other characters? If Batman, Superman and Justice League bring in the average person who’s not a comic book fan, once you have them you insert a Huntress or a secondary character like Oracle as a means of introducing them to more of the world. But you’re not going to be able to do an Oracle movie. Unfortunately the Green Lantern and Wonder Woman movies didn’t perform like we would have liked them to, even though I thought they were among the best we’ve done.” “I can’t go into specifics,” he continues, “but I have a feeling when we announce our next slate of movies, people are going to be very excited because we will be using Batman, Superman and Justice League as a gateway to exposing other characters.”

One example he could be referring to is the already announced Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, which will be a Flash-centric movie. “I can’t think of any other classic DC stories that I want to adapt, and I’m not big on adapting stuff anyway. Once you’ve done Dark Knight Returns, that’s the ultimate DC adaptation. So my attitude is, ‘OK, this leaves me open to doing interpretations of characters and stories,’ so what we’ll be doing with Flashpoint is kind of changing the dynamic a little bit. Doing things that are based on characters and situations from the comics, but not literal adaptations. They’ll be more like original stories along the lines of what we did with Green Lantern: First Flight and Wonder Woman. There won’t be as many literal adaptations. That’s a step in the right direction, because this is a Flash focused story, and it’s probably the only Flash focused story that would sell, because there is a version of the Justice League involved."

There will be more changes in future releases, which are all part of Tucker’s desire to bring a sense of continuing evolution to the line. “I want our movies to feel like contemporary movies you’d see in a theatre,” he muses, “so that means even changing up the way we do the main titles. I want more variety in how we do things and in the types of things we do. I’d love to do a DC Animated movie that is humorous, like Justice League International. And that could be a possibility down the line. The title Justice League is a selling point now. It works on its own so even if you don’t have Superman and Batman in it – okay, Batman’s in it and we could probably find a way to put Superman in it — it would work. Besides, we wouldn’t adapt a literal story from the run. That’s just an example of what I mean. Not every superhero movie has to be the same type of movie with the same kind of tone. There’s different ways to bend the genre. It’s good to mix up the format and not just do the same kind of heavy story. I want them to feel like different types of movies. Who wants to see exactly the same type of movie every time we do one of these?”

What do you think about the changing of the guard at DC Animation? Who would you like to see featured in an animated movie? Do you think DC should stay with the current comic book adaptations, or bring more original stories to the animated line of movies? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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