CBR TV’s Jonah Weiland sat down with TT Games director Arthur Parsons and voice actor Troy Baker in the world famous CBR Tiki Room at New York Comic Con to talk about the latest video game collaboration between DC Comics and LEGO, “LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.” Parsons discusses how the writing on “LEGO Batman 3” allowed the team to embrace their own take on the Dark Knight as well as pay tribute to the many different eras and iterations of Batman over the years. Baker added his excitement — and trepidation — about voicing Batman, and the two recount their experiences working with legendary TV Batman Adam West.
On how and why “LEGO Batman 3” incorporates a much, much wider swath of the DC Universe:
Arthur Parsons: It’s an evolution. We always try and up our game. The only way to sort of go bigger than what we did with [“LEGO Batman] 2,” because “2” was open world and voicing for the first time, so it’s to go bigger, and the only way to go bigger is more characters, over 150. And to go across the breath. You know, like you say, it’s about Troy, and LEGO Batman, but we go out there to everywhere else. We go to Atlantean world, we’re bringing in the Legion of Doom characters, which you’d expect — Firefly, and Cheetah, and Grundy, characters like that. But then we’re also going to bring in crazy characters because everyone loves to play, the wacky, out-there characters — The Polka Dot Man, the Condiment King — and it just makes for an incredibly fun game, and that’s what the LEGO games are. It’s fun.
Parsons: We were thinking what could we do. We’ve got the “Dark Knight” pack. We’ve got the “Man of Steel” pack. We’re huge fans of the show [“Arrow”]. What better thing to do than to do a LEGO twist on it. And Stephen [Amell]’s voice work was — he did it bang on like the show, but we wrote it so that it was really taking the Mickey. It’s just funny. You go back to the island, it’s all about Oliver Queen and his experience with Slade Wilson and all that sort of stuff, so it’s very sort of canon, but in a LEGO way. It’s so funny, and it brings the show to loads more people as well.
That’s the funniest thing. Hearing it delivered like the TV Arrow, but written by, obviously, us guys who have fun writing it. It just makes for great fun. Hopefully when people get to play it they will just be like “That’s brilliant, absolutely bang on.”
3:25 On the thrill and responsibility Baker felt voicing Batman for the game:
Troy Baker: It was huge. Batman was the first graphic novel that I bought as a kid. There was an origins — they used to do these very small mini comics. It was the Batman origins story and it was literally my first drop-in into Batman, so this was like ’81, ’82, something like that. I really got into Batman comics right after “Death in the Family,” where it was basically Robin [Dick Grayson] coming back as Nightwing, and talking to Tim Drake after Jason is dead and everything — spoiler. Batman has always been near and dear to my heart, so when someone says, “You’re going to do Batman,” I’m like “Holy Crap!” They’re like “Hang on a tick, there’s one more thing.” I’ve played all the LEGO games before, with Indiana Jones and “LEGO Batman,” and what I love is everything that drives us is a philosophical choice that TT [Games] makes about how we’re going to do this game differently, because you’ve got an established franchise that’s incredibly successful. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but what you can do is kind of put like sweet rims on it. That’s what we’ve done, and these games become a buffet of fan service for all different generations of DC, or Marvel, or anybody else, because you get to pick from ’66 Batman and really pay homage with having Adam West, and ’66 Batman generation. You get to pull from ’89 Tim Burton, you get to pull from Chris Nolan, you get to pull from comics books, the animated series, and we make it our own, so what I love especially about this, I almost wouldn’t want to play Batman any other way, just because this gets to be our own thing, and there’s not a lot of opportunities that we have working in games to have this much fun on the page. A lot of times we can do it in between takes, but this is something we got to — the only time we had to break was because we were literally on the floor laughing because the lines were so funny.
On the experience of working with Adam West:
Parsons: He is incredible. But when we were doing the recordings he stopped, because he was just like — he burst out laughing, and then he was just, “I need a minute, I need a minute.” “Well why, what’s up?” And he was just like, “Some of these lines I have not heard for over forty years.” And it was like, because we basically rejigged the lines for what we wanted, but it’s bang on track. Everything pulled out from all different bits of the show. And he just had to take a minute, because he was like “Whoa, this is a bit much. Taking me right away back.” But the guy is so enthusiastic about the stuff he was doing. And he is just great to be able to make fun of himself. You know some of his lines are there when you go around the world and he’s the in peril character. He’s there screaming, “Hey, it’s TV star Adam West. Don’t leave me in a jam. He just really was selfless about it because he saw what we were trying to do. When you play that level, when you play the stuff with him in, it’s epic. It really does transcend boundaries. Because I grew up on the reruns, but to be able to take that to a whole new generation, and when they can go and watch the shows again, now that they’ve been re-mastered, it’s magical. Really, really cool.
Baker: We were doing an interview and all of a sudden I just became aware of a presence that was behind me, and he started doing the shark thing, and in the middle of a question he just put his hands on my shoulders and goes [Adam West impersonation], “I think you’ll make a great Batman.” [Laughing] This game has brought moments like that to me. Once we’ve done this it’s going to be really hard to top, because we get to have moments like that. We get to do panels with Kevin Smith, and Steve Amell, and Conan O’Brien in our game.
Parsons: Well, you took a selfie with Adam on our panel. He was just like, “Whoa, I’m having a moment.”
Baker: “I’m going to document this.” Again, there’s one hundred percent fan service that goes into this, and I’m grateful, from the cast and everybody else, there wasn’t one thing about this that nobody got. We all got it from the very beginning. And I think the people who pick up the controllers and actually play are going to feel the same way.
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