A superhero just isn't a superhero unless an alternate take is being delivered to both remind viewers what makes them special in the first place, and prove that experimenting with superheroes isn't just allowed - it's necessary. That's according to Bruce Timm (co-creator of Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond), who has set his sights on an even more drastic re-imagining than usual with Justice League: Gods & Monsters.
To help fans warm to the idea of a Justice League in which Superman is the son of Zod, Wonder Woman a new god and Batman a vampire, WB has teamed with Machinima to released a series of shorts titled Chronicles, focused on each of the heroes. The first video - "Twisted" - sends the vampiric Batman up against Harley Quinn, and can be viewed above.
To be clear, the Batman seen in the above episode isn't Bruce Wayne, but Kirk Langstrom - best known to fans of DC Comics as the monstrous 'Man-Bat.' In this alternate universe, it seems that Harley is as demented as usual, confirming that no matter how much the Big Three of the Justice League may change, there will still be enough touchstones in Chronicles for fans to grasp onto.
We had the opportunity to speak with Timm about the changes coming with Gods & Monsters (along with his feelings on fans who dismiss or oppose any and all changes to their favorite heroes), and how Chronicles relates to the upcoming animated feature.
Upon first pitching the idea for a drastically different, alternate universe Justice League, Timm and his writing team had to learn how to condense their ideas into less than seven minutes. The result was three different shorts, each intended to get a single message across for their respective character:
Those were like our pilots for the idea. So we learned a lot just making those three shorts. And it took some doing. We first had a different idea for each of the shorts that ultimately just wasn’t working for us. Then we reconvened and said, “OK. Throw all that out. Let’s start over. What can we do with each of these shorts?”
It actually came together pretty quickly. We realized, “OK. We don’t have time for setup.” I mean in the Batman one we do. The Batman one is actually the one that’s most traditionally paced, it has a slow beginning, but that one was designed to be all about mood. The other two shorts basically hit the ground running. The Superman one, it’s like you are dropped right in the middle of the action, and the Wonder Woman short is pretty much the same. There’s not a whole lot of setup.
Releasing animated shorts intended to pique fan curiosity, online, free of charge is a hard marketing angle to ignore. As is the case in all of Timm's DC work, the short manages to stick to the source material (including the tone of Batman communicated in his animated series), while offering a perhaps long-awaited dose of lethality to the Dark Knight. Sure, Batman would never kill the criminals he pursues and defeat... but then, this isn't Batman. Not really.
Does this first, "twisted" look at Timm's latest creation have you interested in catching the next episodes - focused on a Latin Superman and a new god Diana - or the animated feature? Is it refreshing to see such a drastic re-imagining of the Justice League, or is this too far a departure for your taste?
From visionary producer and animator Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series), Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles turns the DC Universe upside-down. In this dark, alternate world, telling the good guys from the bad guys is never easy: Superman is not the son of Jor-El, he’s the son of General Zod; Wonder Woman is not from peaceful Themyscira, but rather the warring nation of Ares; and Batman is more vampire-bat than man…and he’s not Bruce Wayne. It is unclear if our greatest heroes are here to protect us...or to rule us. Machinima has already announced a second season, which will come out in 2016.
Justice League: Gods & Monsters Chronicles launches on Machinima on June 8, 2015. The animated feature releases July 28, 2015.