From Left To Right: David Selby, Andrea Romano, Jay Oliva, Gary Miereanu
The world premiere of Warner Brothers Animations’ “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1” hit the Paley Center in New York last night, with a packed crowd of fans excited to see one of the most beloved comics of all time translated to the big screen. After host Gary Miereanu welcomed the crowd, mentioning that over 2,500 people applied for 280 seats available, we got right into the movie! We’ll have a full review up soon, but the big takeaway is that the crowd went nuts. Huge laughs, thunderous applause, and shocked gasps... And this is all from a crowd where literally only one guy had never read the comic.
As the end credits rolled, and after the rapturous applause died down, the Q&A portion began, featuring Director Jay Oliva, Casting/Voice Director Andrea Romano, and David Selby (The Voice of Commissioner Gordon), with Miereanu moderating.
Miereanu kicked things off asking whether it was tough to take on a seminal graphic novel like this. “Hell yes, of course it was intimidating!” said Oliva with a laugh. “It totally changed the way I looked at Batman... I didn’t want to do a motion comic. I wanted to make it a close to a movie as we could, but also stay close to Frank Miller’s intent.”
Asked about favorite moments, Romano mentioned the image of a moth to a flame early in the movie. “It has no dialogue!” said Romano to laughter, “But I love that image.” Oliva mentioned a moment late in the film, where Robin accepts her destiny, while Selby just felt “wowed by the whole thing, seeing it on the big screen like this!” Continuing, Selby added that a monologue late in the film from Commissioner Gordon about Teddy Roosevelt, to him, was the moral of the film.
Next, Miereanu asked about surprising moments, seeing the movie with a live audience for the first time. “Not surprised, but pleased me, which is that they had the same reaction I did,” said Romano. “Which was YEEEEEES!” After laughter died down, Oliva said he felt it was tough to divorce from having seen the film a ton of times in the editing process. However, he did note the flashback sequences to Bruce’s childhood, which he wanted to be like “post-traumatic stress syndrome,” worked surprisingly well.
Additionally, not to get into spoilers for a new sequence, but Oliva added a bit after Wayne fights the Mutant Leader the first time, a Kubrick style sequence which he put in to give symmetry to the initial scenes of Batman’s origin.
Then Romano commented on the gigantic cast, which had thirty-three voice actors, some who do at least three voices each. “I had to look how I could get through this,” said Romano. “So I went to my friends! You’ll notice Pinky and the Brain in there... I cast my friend Rob Paulson as Rob!” Romano followed this up by reading the entire voice cast, with comments, to much laughter from the audience. Basically, she’s a funny lady. She even cast herself, saying a key line of, “No! Don’t! Ah!”
Oliva added that as a fan he freaked out during the process because he’d come into the recording booth and, “Pinky and the Brain would be in there with Mrs. Krabappel!” For Selby, his geek out moment came courtesy of his son, who still has his comics stored at his parent’s house. In fact, the first three books in his collection were all original copies of DKR!
Then it was open to questions from the fans! First one was from the notorious Spidey616 himself, who asked about whether a classic episode of The Animated Series influenced her decisions on this movie. “Since I have no memory, they did not influence each other at all!” said Romano with a laugh, adding that the joy of having no memory is being able to hide your own Easter Eggs.
The next question was how the two Directors work together. Romano said that Oliva would attend every recording session, which was helpful... Particularly as what the actors would develop in the voicing sessions would sometimes change what happened - or was planned visually. Oliva on the other hand lauded Romano’s preparation. “I’ll look down at her script and there’s notes everywhere... And I’ll look at my script, and there’s no notes! I turn to Andrea, and say... That sounds great to me!” said Oliva to laughter. “What’s great about the actors is they always focus on one part. I’m thinking about the fight sequences, and the pacing... My view is more broad strokes.”
Then a fan asked about input from Frank Miller, if he’s weighed in on the movie. “He’s had a copy delivered to him... He’s good friends with Peter Weller, and we expect good things. You’ll hear from him eventually,” said Miereanu to laughs from the audience.
The next question was about Kevin Conroy’s absence from the movie. Romano brought up Batman Beyond, noting that DKR has shades of the show, but added that, “The decision was made way above me, they wanted the style to be different, the talent to be different. But Peter sounds like he’s had so much life experience. He’s world weary, and that works very well for this character.” Oliva noted that there were actually scenes in Robocop - which of course featured Peter Weller - that were taken directly from Dark Knight Returns. “It’s almost like full circle,” said Oliva.
Oliva then talked about bringing together - and breaking apart - Part 1 and 2. He cited the theme of water, including Batman’s return happening in rain as a kind of baptism, as something that will run throughout. Conversely, red denotes the traumatic event of the Wayne’s murder. He added there’s an easter egg in the scene: L’il Bruce’s shadow as he craddles his dead parents is a Batman cape. He also added that for him, the main theme is that, “one man can make a difference. In Part 2, we see the repercussions of that.”
And that was it for the Q&A portion, and the event! There had been a tease at the beginning that we MIGHT be able to see the trailer for Part 2, but perhaps time ran out? Regardless, Miereanu promised that the premiere would be right back at The Paley Center in NYC, next year. We’ll see you then!
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 hits DVD, Blu-Ray, On-Demand, and digital download this Tuesday, September 25th!
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