Warner Brothers Animation brought out the stars and crew behind their next animated feature "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1" for the world premiere in NYC this week, and we were on the scene at the red carpet to snag all the big scoops. That's why they call us Scoops Mackenzie!
First up we chatted with Director Jay Oliva. He's a veteran from both sides of the fence, having previously taken the Director's chair on "Young Justice" and "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights," as well as "Doctor Strange," and "The Invincible Iron Man" for Marvel. Still, "Dark Knight Returns" holds a special place in Oliva's heart. "I was eleven when it came out, so this was my introduction to the more modern Batman," Oliva told us excitedly. "I had watched 'Super Friends,' and the Adam West 'Batman,' so when I read 'The Dark Knight Returns,' it totally changed my view of who Batman was. It's been a lifelong dream of mine to bring justice to what Frank Miller had done in the original graphic novel."
Still, Oliva hadn't actually read the book for twenty years before taking on the directing assignment. Which meant some aspects on the book weren't exactly as he remembered. "There were moments in the book as a kid I had filled in, but when I looked at it again, there were a lot of things I hadn't noticed," said Oliva. "For me, it was trying to find what I saw as an eleven year old child, and as an adult now, and a filmmaker... Trying to bring my sensibility to it, after working on so many other films in the past."
Part of that was making sure - even while making fans happy - that Oliva was able to put his own touch on things as well. That meant consulting with the crew of course, but also looking at the comic book, and seeing what worked cinematically, versus on the still comic page. "Do I need to have this moment?" asked Oliva. "Sometimes we'd add things, or extend scenes for the emotional impact. In the graphic novel, you get to stare at a panel and take it all in. With film, you only get a small window for that... So I had to make sure I had enough time to get that emotion across, while still staying true to the source material."
There's one image in particular that Oliva made sure to hold on: the iconic image of Batman jumping in front of lightning. "That's never in the comic, it's only on the cover!" said Oliva. "I remember when we were storyboarding, I said we need to have this somewhere in the film. We found a moment right when it's his rebirth, his reveal for the audience."
Jumping forward quite a bit, we asked whether Oliva would want to take on the notorious sequel to "Dark Knight Returns," Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Strikes Again." Oliva paused for a moment, before saying, "I don't know! They've got a few other titles that we might end up doing... 'Strikes Again,' it would be a lot harder to adapt just because of all the things that are in it. Wait until you see 'Part 2.' 'Part 2' is amazing, we've already finished it, and it's probably... It's a topper to 'Part 1,' and probably the best work I've ever done."
Then it was over to David Selby, who voices Commissioner Gordon in the movie, and might be better known to genre fans as Quentin Collins on "Dark Shadows." For the voice, Selby didn't change much, stating that he essentially played himself in the movie. When it came down to it, though, it was the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Gordon that gave Selby his character. "I love the friendship between the two," said Selby. "I love that he never compromised back then. I love that kind of guy to guy, man to man relationship that they had."
We then chatted a bit about what draws Selby to genre fare like "Dark Knight" and "Dark Shadows," other than them both starting with the word "Dark," of course. Interestingly enough, there's a strong connection to the legend of Batman that got Selby started. "I wanted to be Zorro!" Selby told us. "I wanted to be Errol Flynn, with the sword in my hand... And instead I got to be Commissioner Gordon!"
And last but certainly not least, we had a very brief moment to chat with legendary Vocal Director Andrea Romano about working on the movie. We asked her what - given all her sundry projects - makes working on something that's almost a direct adaptation like "Dark Knight Returns" different from a non-adapted project. "I could practically use the graphic novel as a storyboard," said Romano. "I could literally go to the actors and show them a page or panel, and say, this is what we're doing. And they could go, 'Oh, I can do that!' So that makes a big difference, because actors respond very well to visual stimulation. This is an easy thing to direct, because it's all there on the page!"
"Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1" hits DVD, Blu-Ray, On-Demand, and digital download this Tuesday, September 25th!
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