Earlier this week the latest DC Universe animated feature – Batman: Assault on Arkham – released digitally and on DVD/Blu-ray. This one, however, isn’t tied to The New 52 continuity DC Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ Animation are building with films like Justice League: War and the upcoming Throne of Atlantis, but is instead linked with the Batman: Arkham video game universe. While at San Diego Comic-Con I participated in roundtable interviews with many of Assault on Arkham‘s creators and cast: director Jay Oliva, producer James Tucker, writer Heath Corson, voice director Andrea Romano, and voice talent Kevin Conroy, Matthew Gray Gubler, and John DiMaggio. Hit the jump for their input on making Batman: Assault on Arkham! (more…)
Just wrapping up in the IGN Theater at New York Comic Con has been The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 panel, moderated by Gary Miereanu with Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano. For the first time ever NYCC is live streaming their panels out of the IGN Theater and we here at Nerd Bastards are bringing you recaps of every one. Along with exclusive showroomfloor coverage and interviews, but you already knew that, didn’t you?
The only thing we can’t share with you are the trailers and clips shown during the panels, of which there were many at this DC Animated universe panel. They started with an exclusive trailer for an upcoming project I’ve very excited about, LEGO Batman The Movie: Superheroes Unite. Miereanu promises the movie is the funniest superhero movie he’s ever seen and if it’s at all like the LEGO games I’m think we’re in for an excellent flick.
LEGO Batman will be one of four movies being released next year, the first, obviously being The Dark Knight Returns Part 2. Part 1 released only a few weeks ago (Psst, you can read our review here.) and while it was received favorably the real excitement has been over Part 2, where we get to properly meet Michael Emerson‘s Joker.
Romano said she was given specific instruction to cast not from their usual company of actors. Obviously this meant no Kevin Conroy or Mark Hamill, though Romano admits she’d use them every time if permitted. Of Emerson she said his Joker is “scary,” “eerie,” and “wonderful” but that it’s unlike any Joker we’ve heard before.
Much of the same could be said of Peter Weller‘s performance as Batman. It’s unlike anyone we’ve heard before, even Conroy’s old, grumpy Bruce from Batman Beyond, to which Bruce Timm revealed he hadn’t realized how much they took from The Dark Knight Returns when he was working on Beyond. He also dropped hints he’d love to work on another Beyond movie during the Q & A, so keep your fingers crossed!
Another addition to the cast in Part 2 is Mark Valley as Clark Kent/Superman, who both Timm and Romano praise as being able to bring sympathy to a Superman who isn’t much more than the President’s lackey and a bully. Timm also said whenever Valley voiced Clark he would wear a pair of glasses, to help with the character. Ha!
There were several clips from Part 2 shared during the panel and with any luck we’ll see them make their way online soon, but one clip in particular revealed a surprise voice over in the movie. Voicing the late night host, Dave Endocrine who the Joker kills with signature laughing gas is Conan O’Brian! Romano said his dying laugh, the slow to maniacal laugh that comes with being doused with Joker toxin, O’Brian recorded his in one take and it is incredible. Cannot wait to hear that, how about you?
The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 will release early next year and LEGO Batman The Movie following in the Spring. The other two projects we can expect next year are Superman Unbound in the middle of 2013, and this will be a movie based on Geoff Johns‘ Superman/Braniac series. There’s no official announcement of the cast, though they’ve already been recording and they all agree the cast is awesome. It was hinted Molly Quinn of Castle is involved. Lois, maybe?
And lastly, Justice League: Flashpoint, capping off what I find to be a rather lackluster schedule, what do you think? I’m looking forward to The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 and I cannot wait for LEGO Batman The Movie, but Unbound and Flashpoint? I’m not twitching in my seat with excitement over either one. If anything, Flashpoint happened so recently and created the hot mess that is the New 52. I can’t imagine many a DC fanboy or girl being all that excited by it.
What are your thoughts about their upcoming slate of DC original animated movies? What’s the comic you most want to seem them tackle next?
Stay tuned for more up to the minute coverage from NYCC!
With every new release DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation are trying to raise the bar on animated superhero films. Are they succeeding? Yes and no, but I’d say mostly yes. Recently their choice of stories to adapt have become more ambitious, more revered, and that couldn’t be more true than when bringing Frank Miller’s classic, The Dark Knight Returns, to the screen. A lot of what this adaptation gets right is owed to their unwillingness to deviate much from the original work. It can also be said that’s where anything they get wrong comes from, too. It’s this utter faithfulness to Miller’s work that can be both a blessing and hindrance when bringing the story to life in a new medium. In this sense, The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 reminds me of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, which received criticism for at times being too faithful to Alan Moore’s script and not forming their narrative to better fit the film. A comic book isn’t simply a storyboard to be filmed and turned into a movie, the two mediums are separate and should be developed separately.
That being said, Miller’s original story of an aging, retired Batman donning the cowl once again to save a Gotham overrun by crime, corruption, and complacency comes through strongly in the animated film. Most everything your remember from the comic is here. Even some extraneous plot lines that could have been condensed or removed for the sake of pace, like Two-Face’s rehabilitation and regression. It’s a nice exploration of the villain and how his psychosis can’t be cured with a little plastic surgery, but we don’t need it in the movie and the focus could have been on The Mutant uprising from the beginning.
The next property DC and Warner Bros. are adapting into an animated feature is The Dark Knight Returns, and the pressure is on not to fuck this one up. Among most Batman and comic book fans this book by Frank Miller is a grandaddy of Batman stories. Dark Knight Returns focuses on an aging Batman who’s been out of the cowl for some time and what happens to Gotham in his absence that drives him back into the mask. It managed to both reinvent and define the character. Basically, folks are gonna be pissed if this animated film doesn’t live up to the source material.
This sneak peek doesn’t show much footage from the movies – oh did I mention The Dark Knight Returns will be split into two films? – but it does go into great detail on how they approached adapting such a beloved work as well as a chance to hear some of the voice work. It’s also subtitled in Spanish so hey, maybe you can learn a few phrases here and there.
The Dark Knight Returns is set in a near future where Batman is retired and Gotham City has slid into a dystopian state ruled by a gang of hooligans called The Mutants. The 55-year old Bruce Wayne is forced to don the cape once more, this time partnering with a female Robin to not only stop the Joker but keep the peace when the city falls into chaos after being hit by an electromagnetic pulse.
Peter Weller (Robocop) will be the voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne, Ariel Winter (Modern Family) as Robin. David Selby (original Dark Shadows soap opera), Wade Williams (Prison Break) as Harvey Dent/Two-Face; and Michael McKean as Dr. Wolper, the psychiatrist who releases the Joker from the insane asylum. The movie is being directed by Jay Oliva, who was the storyboard artist for Zack Snyder’s upcoming Superman movie Man of Steel, from a script by Bob Goodman.
The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 releases this fall, do you plan to check it out?
One of the few panels I managed to fight the crowds and actually attend at New York Comic Con was the DC Universe Animated Original Movies panel. If you’ve perused Nerd Bastards once or twice before you’re aware I’m a diehard, DC fangirl with a serious cartoon obsession. This panel was of high priority. Along with the screening of the Catwoman short feature, panelists Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano shared the first trailer for the next animated feature, Justice League: Doom. I wasn’t going to risk recording the trailer at the panel, like many of my fellow convention-goers, because one, let’s be honest, the quality would be shit and two, I knew it’d hit the web fairly soon.
What do you know? Here it is, the first peak at Justice League: Doom,
Doom is loosely based on the JLA storyline by Mark Waid, “Tower of Babylon.” In the series Batman has collected necessary information on how to eliminate every member of the Justice League were they ever to go rogue. Batman, the ultimate Boy Scout, who knew? Unfortunately, he didn’t secure this information well enough and it’s stolen. The Legion of Doom is formed to enact these “destroy the Justice League” protocols and all hell breaks loose! If you’re a fan of big ensemble superhero stories, like Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths or just about every Justice League/JLU season finale, Doom sounds like it’ll be right up your alley.
Justice League: Doom was the last screenplay written by the late Dwayne McDuffie and it’s directed by Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: First Flight, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse). This flick will also have one AMAZING voice cast, let’s run down the list shall we? Tim Daly as Superman, Kevin Conroy as Batman, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern, Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash (note, this is the Barry Allen Flash, not Wally West who Rosenbaum voiced JL/JLU), Carl Lumbly as Martian Manhunter, Bumper Robinson as Cyborg, Olivia d’Abo as Star Sapphire, Claudia Black as Cheetah, Alex Denisof as Mirror Master, Phil Morris as Vandal Savage, Paul Blacthorne as Metallo, Carlos Alazraqui as Bane, Grey DeLisle as Queen of the Royal Flush Gang and David Kauffman as Jimmy Olson.
Wow, right? Justice League: Doom will release early 2012, and yes, you should fully expect a review from me in the future.
Wow, guys, wow. Let’s talk about a crazy, busy, incredible con. As far as I’m aware, New York Comic Con is completely sold out. And you can tell, because it felt even more crowded than last year, but for being so crowded I can’t say I missed out on anything I wanted to do. All I did was hang out in the IGN Theater, which is comparable to San Diego Comic Con’s Hall H. The IGN Theater is where all the awesome shit goes down so of course I sat there all day to report on it for, because I’m just that nice.
Unfortunately, the IGN Theater is also a black hole. A signal sucking, 3G guzzling whore stealing my opportunity to share the awesome shit with you immediately. I’m sorry. If you’d like to hear and or see cool stuff from the con the minute it happens you are welcome to purchase me an outrageously expensive Wi-Fi pass.
What I can offer you is my audio recordings of all three panels I went to, Batman: Arkham City, DC Universe Animated Original Movies and The Venture Bros. They’ll be linked throughout this post. I offer these in exchange for not getting any kind of reporting out of the black pit of the Javitts Center in a timely manner.
First up was the Batman: Arkham City panel at which they premiered the full release trailer,
Beautiful. Chilling. A masterpiece of a game trailer if I ever saw one. I had the chance to play a little of Arkham City on preview night and everything you’ve heard is true. They took the unbelievable, most critically acclaimed super hero game ever and made it better. The world is open, about five times larger than Asylum. Batman has about double the amount of take down moves allowing you to pwn somewhere between 20-30 guys without much hassle. I remember hearing about the altered detective mode, but I can’t say it seemed all that different to me. I wasn’t in detective mode all the time during the demo, so maybe that speaks to the changes, you just won’t need to use it all the time.
At the panel was Sefton Hill and Nick Arundel from Rocksteady, Claudio Sanchez who created the original song for the game and of course, the Batman, Kevin Conroy. Hearing him talk, hearing him say, “I AM BATMAN!”, it made me quiver. Is there anybody you associate more with Batman? Probably not, he’s been playing the role for 20 years!
An audience member at one point asked why do they keep coming back to Conroy to voice the role, is it something he pursued? He said, not really, but rather it’s been this incredible fan reaction to his performance that keeps landing him the job. “You understand Batman better than I do, ” Conroy said at one point. Well, if that’s all it takes, us absolutely loving what Conroy brings to Batman, I hope he never stops. Y’know, until he’s dead or something, but that’s a horribly sad thought I don’t want to dwell on.
Here’s the link to the audio for the Batman: Arkham City panel. Be careful though not to blow out your speakers, the panelists talk low but then the fans scream really, really loud!
Who’s getting this game when releases on October 18th? I”ll be playing non-stop in order to finish quickly. The sooner I finish the sooner I can tell you all how amazing it is.
After Arkham City there was a short break where I attempted to upload that video above. Realizing it wouldn’t happen in the black hole of the Javitts I ended up back in line for the DC Universe Animated Original Movies panel. On this panel was Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano, and if you don’t know who they are, well, Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League and every other amazing DC animated work would never have happened if it wasn’t for these two. And they were also joined by Kevin Conroy. Seriously, I think the guy spent as much time in the IGN Theater as I did.
Here’s the full audio from from the DC Animated panel, including all the audio of the Catwoman short which they premiered at the panel. Oh! And a special lady stopped by to introduce the short. I think you’ll recognize her once you hear her sultry tones.
All right, so after watching the short, I have to say I was happier with it than I originally thought. Everything I read was, “Catwoman strips. She hides out in a strip club. STRIP!!” That’s all that was ever mentioned in marketing, but the actually stripping is minor. Catwoman spends most of her time involved in wild, high speed chases and ripping dudes up with her claws. She’s a super badass! Personally, I think she’s way hotter when she’s roughing guys up than when she’s unzipping her suit. Then again, I’m not a dude, so yeah.
Oh yes, and the special lady introducing the short was Eliza Dushku, whom I’m really glad they cast as Catwoman. She’s purr-fect. Yes, I went there. I’m crazy exhausted, to me that joke is a riot.
Once I was in the IGN Theater there really wasn’t much reason to leave. Especially because The Venture Bros. panel was next! In usual, hilarious fashion Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick showed up without much prepared but they still manage an outrageously funny panel. At one point, Doc goes through a list of words and phrases he never wants to hear again. I know random, but really funny shit. You can give a listen to the audio of their panel here, same warnings apply, panelists are quiet, fans are crazy loud.
Okay guys, so day one was a bit of a train wreck because I figured I could post as I go, tweet out cool stuff, but clearly that won’t be an option. What can I say, this con is a learning experience. For Day 2 look forward to, hopefully, more constructed and clear reports that’ll hopefully be coming your way in a more timely manner.
Now to pass the fuck out due to sheer exhaustion and nerdy glee.