Fans of Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics have had some serious news to digest lately, with the surprise announcement that producer and supervisor of nearly all things DCU, Bruce Timm, would be stepping down from his post. Having overseen the groundbreaking Superman and Batman cartoons, Justice League Unlimited and standalone films, there was clearly more to the story than a simple resignation or reassignment.
Now further comments from Warner Bros. reassure fans that Timm's time with the company is far from over, and his return to the spotlight is on the horizon. With it will come some "big" announcements, and the writing on the wall points to a brand new animated incarnation of the Justice League. Could Warner Bros. be planning for the future of their animated television, or something much, much larger?
We held off on reporting Bruce Timm's relinquishing of the supervising producer role to James Tucker (as announced by VoicesFromKrypton) since it was clear the other shoe had yet to fall. As the man who had overseen anything to do with animated DC heroes or villains since any can remember, be it TV series or some of the best animated superhero movies to date, his tenure coming to an end without ceremony seemed odd.
James Tucker's plan to use classic DC heroes to introduce more characters and tell original stories, not just adaptations, promises a big step forward for the studio - not to mention distinguishing his own strategy from that of Timm. Tucker further explained that the timing of his predecessor was appropriate - since Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns was a long time coming for Timm and the studio - Tucker believes that "[i]f he was going to make the break, that seemed like a good time.”
While the production of high quality animated feature films from DC and WB has never been better, all aspects of the studio haven't fared so well. Following the cancellation of Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice, and the fact that Justice League Unlimited was, in many ways, the final entry in the animated universe Timm spawned with Batman: The Animated Series in the early '90s, some signs that change was coming had been noted.
The weight of overseeing an entire universe of animated superhero action had taken a toll on Timm - a fact evident to any who saw him at industry events or conventions - but the last thing anyone expected was for WB to replace him without so much as a grand farewell.
We should confess that this announcement did give us pause, wondering if Warner Bros. and DC had finally decided to take our advice and put Timm to work on shaping a live-action movie universe. That's certainly a long shot given the lack of any apparent progress on the Justice League movie front, but not the worst move the studios could make.
Luckily, it wasn't long before Gary Miereanu, WB Animation's publicist, took to Twitter to clarify the earlier reports of Timm's departure from his supervisory role:
@martinmccallion Bruce Timm is stepping away from the DCU Animated Original Movies for a bit ... but he'll be back - in a very big way.
— Gary Miereanu (@SuperPRGuy) March 29, 2013
That tease proved not to be quite enough, as Mierneanu went on to explain that anyone who thought Timm's relationship with the studio was severed was grossly misinformed:
RT #BruceTimm continues his amazing work at Warner Bros. He's only taking a break from DCU films to develop more of the stuff you love.
— Gary Miereanu (@SuperPRGuy) March 30, 2013
@riaaanna Honestly, he never left. Green Lantern Animated series ... The Flaming C ... Dark Knight Returns. And something new and cool
— Gary Miereanu (@SuperPRGuy) March 30, 2013
In case anyone is unaware of what Miereanu is referring to as 'The Flaming C,' we'd point you all to to Conan O'Brien's brief stint as Bruce Timm's muse for the animated series Young Justice. And as fond as we are of the pair's unconventional crime-fighter, we can't help but think Timm's "big" return will be focused on something a bit more substantial; despite our innermost wishes, most likely in the realm of animation.
According to a source of CBM's from within the WB offices in Burbank, that's precisely the case, with Timm now planning the launch of a brand new Justice League TV series set within his existing universe.
It might seem like somewhat of an underwhelming reveal - the man famous for creating groundbreaking superhero cartoons is making another one - but with Timm formally taken off supervising animated features to do it, and other developments with some of DC's most iconic characters, something more substantial might be in the works.
To be more specific, Warner Bros. could be putting their most trusted mind to the task of doing for their animated Justice League what the comics did over a year ago: help set the stage for a live-action shared universe.