n years past, each of the DC Animated Original Movies released by Warner Bros. stood on their own, sometimes using the same cast but existing largely in their own one-off continuity. Last year the studio released Warner Bros. introducing Damian Wayne into the animated fold and leading directly into this year’s “Batman vs. Robin.” As of next year, it’s about to become a trilogy with the newest film, “Batman: Bad Blood,” building on the story that began in the first movie and continuing to deepen and enrich the animated Batman mythos.
At New York Comic Con, producer James Tucker, director Jay Oliva and character designer Phil Bourassa visited the world famous CBR Tiki Room high above the show floor to talk about working on “Bad Blood.” They talk about why a shared universe and continuity allow them to tell even deeper stories, why they’re pulling more and more from DC Comics storylines, whether this is the end of a trilogy or just a third Batman movie and much more.
In the first part of the interview, the trio of creators discussed the benefits of a shared continuity between films and how having this as a third movie in a series allowed them to do more than possible in just a one-off. Oliva also expanded on how the comics influence the stories they tell and how they help share this new animated film universe that they’ve created.
On the decision to implement a shared continuity between DC’s animated films:
James Tucker: I think it’s a good idea because it keeps fans connected to a certain version of the character and allows us to build on story ideas. Things we set up in one movie we can then add to in the next movie. Whereas the one-offs, you’re starting from ground zero everything you do a new movie. You almost have to reestablish the characters all over again. Personally, I’m coming from a television background. I like the serialized nature of television. And also, we’re doing movies based on comics, which are serialized. So, to me, it made total sense to do it this way.
On how the comics influence the films:
Jay Oliva: The thing that’s great about what we do is that we kind of cherry-pick from the comics. For example, I hadn’t really read the Batwoman comics very much but when I knew this was the next one, I emailed James and said, “Tell me about her. Tell me which comics to read.” So, I read it and I fell in love with the character. This character is badass. I got to figure how to make her as awesome as possible. So, when we looked at the script, I threw out a few ideas to James like, “Hey, there’s some really cool stuff from her comics. Can we kind of get some of that in there?” Just to sprinkle it in. We’re not doing strict adaptations. In this world, from the point of “Son of Batman” forward — at least the Batman Universe — that’s where we are. There are no sort of outside character; we haven’t introduced anybody else in this world. So, it’s nice that we started from the ground up and now this is our way of introducing Batwoman into this universe and do it in a fresh way. We still stay true to what the original comics were but at the same time it’s in this new universe that we’ve done.
For the final part of the interview, Bourassa talked about creating the visual style for the series of films and how that’s evolved and changed overtime, and he also explained the artistic benefits of having one shared universe. The trio also revealed whether this latest installment is the end of a trilogy or just the next chapter in a longer story.
On the benefits of having a series of films with one shared universe:
Phil Bourassa: The great thing about keeping the same cast, keeping the same general look, is I can focus more on the new characters that show up. If I was redesigning Batman every single time I wouldn’t get to give as much love to Batman and Batwoman and the Rogues Gallery and stuff like that. Heretic was tricky to figure out. James and I worked closely on the design. One of the tricky things when we’re doing these movies is that occasionally the source material we get to work with is pretty awesome. The stories are fantastic and for the most part, the characters themes and their visuals from the comic, while it might need to be updated, is usually consistent, coherent and something that we can adapt and sort of evolve for our medium.
On whether “Bad Blood” completes a trilogy or is just the next chapter:
Tucker: Pretty much the next chapter. We want to stay employed. [Laughs]
Bourassa: There’s not end! [Laughs]
Tucker: We’ll keep doing them until they pry it out of our cold dead hands. But I mean, we’re mixing it up because we’re doing a Justice League versus Teen Titans. Each movie builds on top of what the other ones are, even if it’s a different franchise or a different line of characters, they’re connected to what we’ve already done before.
Oliva: And each one has a different feel. For myself, I always try to top my last film. The action in this one tops all the stuff that we’ve done in the past.
Bourassa: This one is going to be pretty hard to beat.
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