Some say that Beware the Batman has big shoes to fill, serving as the latest entry in the illustrious line of Batman animated series' while also following cancelled DC Nation entries Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. But despite that, producers Glen Murakami and Mitch Watson don't seem too focused on those perceived challenges, instead preferring to try and put their own spin on the Caped Crusader while trying to pull action cartoons back from the brink of extinction.
Last week, we had a chance to talk to Murakami and Watson, and they shed some light on their choice to use some of the more obscure members of Batman's Rogue's Gallery, why they aren't afraid to challenge their young audience, the absence of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm from Beware the Batman, using CGI, the state of action toons, and why they just want people to give their show a chance.
Here’s Mitch Watson talking about how he and Murakami sought to make Batman their own, and how they won’t talk down to their younger audience:
I think Glenn and I had a familiarity with all the different iterations of Batman, and then you kind of push them aside and go "Ok, what are the key components of this character, the key components that people are familiar with? We'll keep those and then, we'll make it our own." One of the ways that it was probably a little easier on this particular project was the fact that we were using villains that really hadn't been utilized before and oddly enough we didn't get the full effect of that until we saw the episodes. It really gives the episodes a whole different feel, because you've never really seen Batman interacting with these guys in an animated form.
In terms of how do you not talk down to the kids, at least when I approach breaking a story, I break them as if I'm the audience, quite honestly. I have a real thing about not wanting to talk down to a kid audience, I don't think you have to. I think kids are actually a lot smarter than people give them credit for and if you give them something that they can sink their teeth into, they'll go for it.
Well aware of the passionate response to the cancellation of Young Justice and Green Lantern, Murakami and Watson want those displaced fans and other action cartoon fans to give their show a chance so that the genre doesn't continue to suffer losses:
Watson: To be perfectly frank with you, the action genre of television cartoons right now is sort of on the verge of extinction, so I'm really hoping that if people like Young Justice and people liked Green Lantern, that they're gonna give this show a chance, because quite honestly, if they don't go for this kind of show... and you know what? If they don't like it, they don't like it, but give the show a chance, because we really set out to make something that was goona appeal to both fans and new people, and to pull back in the Green Lantern and the Young Justice people.
I think we've done our due diligence in terms of honoring the characters and so, people gotta know that unless they give these shows a chance, you're not going to see action shows anymore.
Murakami: Every show I've ever worked on, whenever we start the show, it's always the same thing. Where everyone complains and says that they're going to hate the show and then, after the shows been on or when the show ends they always ask the same question "Well why did they cancel it? Why did they get rid of it? We thought it was so great.
So that's the only thing that I can kind of remind everybody is like, well, when Teen Titans started everyone said they hated it. When we did Batman Beyond everyone said that they hated it, you know? When we did the revamp on Batman, everyone said that they hated it. So, every single time it sounds like, whenever we start something, everyone complains about it and tells us that it's going to be terrible and it's not going to be very good.
Will Beware the Batman be a harder sell to fans because Bruce Timm and Paul Dini aren't involved? Watson and Murakami don't seem to think so:
Watson: Only the hardcore fans are gonna know Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. To a kid whose coming brand new to it, no. Those are the names that were tied to a show that was done 20 years ago, and hey, nobody is trying to take the place of that show. It was a great show and it continues to be a great show. This is a different show.
Murakami: I worked on those shows. We do have people working on the show who have worked on the shows, so we do have experience working on those types of shows.
One of the most notable differences between past Batman shows and Beware the Batman is the use of CGI. But while some have scoffed at Batman's new look, Murakami seems excited:
I think it's a challenge. I think it's a challenge to try to do some of this stuff that you haven't seen before in CG. I think it's just a new medium and I think even fans are used to from the movies and everything like that, they kinda expect a bigger spectacle. I mean, I wanted to try and kinda take on that challenge of doing a show in CG.
Beware the Batman premieres July 13th, 2013 @10am on the Cartoon Network