Romano and Diedrich Bader, who played Batman in “Brave and the Bold,” both cited the 1960s Adam West TV show as their first and primary exposure to Batman. “The Batman that I really fell in love with was Adam West’s. When it took a very different and dark direction, I didn’t really go with it,” Bader said “I wasn’t the biggest fan –I prefered Adam. And this show took that tone I really appreciated.”
Though consistent with multiple portrayals of the Dark Knight, including West’s, Bader’s light-hearted Batman stands out amongst modern versions. “It was interesting, because I talked to Kevin Smith, and this Batman is one of his favorites. Because it was made with real love. We didn’t exploit Batman, we never pushed him in a direction he couldn’t go, but we did take him in a different direction,” Bader said. “And we really reached into the lexicon of superheroes and also the supervillains. Ten Eyes, and Zebra Man, and Crazy Quilt. It was all cool. My son, he’s such a comic book fan–he bought the encyclopedia for DC long before I was Batman, and then memorized the whole thing. So for him it was really intense–one, for his dad to be Batman, but two, to see all these characters that he knew and loved and are underutilized. Because generally, it’s the rogues gallery, and there’s a limit to that.”
Bader said, however, that playing the series lead presented some challenges for a comic actor like himself because Batman was often the straight man to more over-the-top characters like John DiMaggio’s Aquaman. “What’s interesting is the dichotomy between the sense of humor that ran throughout it and the darkness because he is the Dark Knight. Because of the lighter tone, I had some jokes, but I kind of undersold them,” Bader said. “The whole thrust of it, especially once we really got into the rhythm of it–Michael Jelenic wrote to this very well–[Batman] has sort of an ironic sense of humor, he’s always commenting, because he is such an eloquent person. It’s interesting to him, the characters that come into his life. It was frustrating as someone who’s done so many broad comedies to not be able to go out there, to have to dial it down. John DiMaggio was having such a good time! Going over the top. I mean, he was fantastic, just really going for it, but I had to undercut everything. So it was interesting. I loved the whole process.
“John as a whole, and the energy of Aquaman is just unbelievable,” Bader continued. “I always felt like Batman really genuinely appreciated him and his sense of humor. It was always great to be there with John, John is a great, larger than life character, and he always makes a voiceover session fun. I know every time I work with John it’s going to be a good time.”
DiMaggio, for his part, clearly enjoyed his role as Aquaman. “Seventy percent of the Earth is water — I’ve been saying that since the beginning of the show. He’s the man, he’s got to get some respect,” he said. Then, in his Aquaman voice, “Outrageous!” And as himself again, “He’s the man!”
DiMaggio said he was “very fortunate” to have been involved with several major animated series, including his turn as Bender on “Futurama” and “Adventure Time’s” Jake as well as “Brave and the Bold.” “I think it’s funny, because, really, all you have to do is have energy and be focused. If you get it together once, it gets easier each time,” he said. “You’re creating your own universe within the universe. If [Aquaman’s] narcissism is important to the outcome of the whole product…! Once you kinda get what you’re doing together, you can really bounce off of people. Because once you’re sure, everybody else is sure. I think that’s a pretty big key.”
As to what form that “bouncing off” takes, DiMaggio said, in his best imitation of Bader, “I actually have a pretty good Diedrich Bader [impression].” “I used to bust his chops,” DiMaggio continued in his own voice. “When he couldn’t be there because of scheduling stuff, I would go ahead and sub for him and people would be like, that’s too funny. And I would do it in front of him and he’d be embarrassed, red-faced, ‘Do I really sound like that?’ Come on, dude, you’re awesome! But Diedrich is great, it was great working with him — he’s such a wonderful talent and a generous actor. An actor’s actor, a really funny guy.”
But will the Blu-ray include DiMaggio-as-Bader outtakes? “Never!” DiMaggio laughed. “Never gonna make it!”