Director Jay Oliva and writer Jim Krieg visited the CBR yacht at Comic-Con International 2013 in San Diego to talk about the latest DC Universe animated feature, “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.” The collaborators spoke with CBR’s Kiel Phegley about Bruce Timm’s departure from DC Animation, how they managed to adapt a project as large as “Flashpoint” into a single feature, why Barry Allen was the right protagonist for the project, how much fun it was dealing with a very different sort of Batman and the film’s connection to their next movie, “Justice League: War.”
On shaking up DC Universe Animated Movies following Bruce Timm’s departure: “After I finished ‘The Dark Knight Returns,’ which was Bruce’s last film before he took this little hiatus, when James took over, one of the things that he and I discussed was, ‘Hey, let’s try something different,'” said Oliva. “One of the things that we’d done was this operatic feel to the DC Universe, which is awesome. I love that stuff. But with ‘Flashpoint’ and a few other films afterwards, we [realized] we had the chance to do story lines that are a little more contemporary. Bruce adapts more classical stuff, and since we’re a little more contemporary, let’s try something different. It was great because James was all for doing something different, especially since he just came off of ‘Brave and the Bold.’ He was like, ‘People didn’t like that I made it more kid-ified, let’s go with something that’s a little more adult-oriented.”
“He certainly went another way on this one,” said Krieg. “If you liked ‘Brave and the Bold,’ this would be slightly different. You might like this, too, but it’s slightly different.”
On adapting the massive storyline of “Flashpoint” and its tie-ins in 90 minutes: “I was working on the ‘Green Lantern’ animated series when this came up,” said Krieg. “But the comics hadn’t come out yet, and they would send me the pages of what Geoff had written and what other writers had written, and the pencils with no word balloons. I actually had to do a puzzle of putting them together. I was immersed in all this material in non-chronological order. I read it all and had a moment where [I thought], ‘What pops to the top? What’s the absolute spine of this universe, but how much of the other stories can we touch on?’ Hopefully we got enough in there that makes it a rich, thick world.”
On approaching Barry Allen as a lead character: “I grew up with Barry Allen, so I was a big fan of the Flash up until he died in ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ and that just broke my heart,” said Oliva. “After that, just like everyone else, I became a fan of Wally West because he became the face of the Flash ever since. When we were working on ‘Flashpoint’ and I found out Geoff Johns had brought back Barry Allen, I was very excited that we were doing a movie with the Flash that I grew up with and doing it as a Flash-centric story. One of my first approaches to this was — well, Jim had written the screenplay, and I did a lot of research myself. I read as many of the books as I could. I went on the forums just to see what the fans were talking about … see what they love, what they did not like. I realized that people really loved the Azzarello Batman. James and I were like, ‘How can we put this in there?’ By doing so, we found what Barry Allen’s personality and the way we wanted to portray him in this film.”
On the enjoyment of taking on a different version of Batman: “I just pictured Clint Eastwood as Batman,” said Oliva. “Dirty Harry in a Batman cowl. Looking at the source material, the Batcave was very different. To me, I art directed it in that sense — I wanted the Batcave to be a man cave. It’s full of beers and wines and empty bottles. There’s no tech in there whatsoever. It’s basically where Batman goes to drown his sorrows that his wife is the Joker and his son is dead and he just torments himself all the time. You see that in the film. Our approach to him is that he’s drinking a lot. During the screening, everyone would laugh.”
“It’s the unibomber cave,” said Krieg. “He was Dirty Harry 30 years ago and that was when he was at his best. This is he’s spun off the rails. He’s not in a good place. Looking at his world, you know everything about him. It was fun to write. Geoff and Brian had so many good lines for this character. It was fun to use that voice. Everything he says is just so sarcastic and mean-spirited and unhelpful that I thought half of them would get cut out of the script. I really did. They all make it in.”
On “The Flashpoint Paradox” and “Justice League: War” connecting: “When we were doing ‘Flashpoint,’ I had no idea we were going to go into ‘Justice League: War.’ It was delayed enough production that they said, ‘Oh, we’re going to use this as a way to tie in to the next movie.’ That’s why at the end of our movie, we have a tag,” said Oliva.