Since the launch of the New 52, writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo have been telling critically-acclaimed tales in “Batman,” accomplishing everything from the reinvention of Gotham City and Batman’s early days to quintessential stories featuring his iconic rogues. Earlier this month at New York Comic Con, the dynamic duo sat down with CBR TV’s Jonah Weiland in the Tiki Room to talk about their run thus far, what’s next for the Dark Knight, and what’s next for their partnership. They discuss the Joker’s return following “Death of the Family,” the continued evolution of Capullo’s style on the series and why “Endgame” isn’t the end for either creator. They also discuss how working together on the title has made them closer as both collaborators and friends, why this could be the final hurrah for Snyder with the Clown Prince of Crime, and their place in Batman history.
On “Batman” #35 and how the Joker’s return raises the stakes:
Scott Snyder: The story itself, we have been building it secretly I’ve been talking about it since “Death of the Family.” For myself, there was always going to be another Joker story that represented the complete inverse of that, because for us, for me at least, the reason he is my favorite villain isn’t because he is sort of everyone’s favorite villain, or because he is the greatest, it’s because his personal relationship to Batman is fascinating to me in that he is all about the meaningless of life. In the movies it’s chaos and so on. A lot of my anxiety and the things I sort of deal with have to do with that too.
This worry that all you do and everything you are trying to achieve eventually comes to nothing. None of it really matters in the scheme of things. And the Joker says, “The greatest joke is that you guys think anything you do means anything. And I’m going to prove that it doesn’t.” And then when Batman comes along, he sort of says, “I will transform myself into these big symbols with you and play this battle out and the irony, or the big joke now, is that there is meaning in watching that.” But when Batman rejects him in “Death of the Family” and says, “My human family makes me stronger than you and this rogues family.”
Now it’s all bets are off. So this story is sort of like the Joker coming back and saying, “The game is over. I’m going to show you who I really am.” So you’re going to be very surprised in some ways. And he is basically saying, “It’s over. I’m going to break everything, burn every toy, and we are finished.” And it’s meant to be the conclusion of a story that really begins emotionally for the character in “Zero Year,” if you believe that’s the Joker. This is kind of where it ends for us. In terms of what it has, it’s a big celebration of Batman’s 75th, so it’s got the biggest cast. It has a lot of elements that we used in the past coming back in big ways, new characters. It really is the kind of story you could go out on if you wanted to in that way, and my feeling about it being the 75th anniversary of Batman, It had to be when I realized “maybe we’ll do it later, well actually, it’s almost Joker’s 75th.” So also he can kind of come back and be like, ‘your parties over Batman, it’s my 75th.”
On how Capullo’s artwork underwent a tonal change for “Endgame”:
Greg Capullo: Scott and I are modifying the way we work together, and he’s given me a bit more room. We’re getting on the phone together, we’re going, “How about if we do this during the scene?” and he’s even given me more space to pace it myself and maybe even throw in props that I would use as story telling devices. To me those are the differences. Maybe you are picking up on that. The other thing, you know my wife is always going, “You seem the happiest you have ever been since starting on ‘Batman.'” So maybe you are seeing a bit of that, because having been used to working with such freedom prior to getting together with “Batman,” this is the closest I’ve approached since that time to what makes me truly happy in the pages. So maybe that’s what you are even seeing there, is the way I’m able to express Scott’s scripts.”
On the possibility of this being the last time Snyder will write the Joker:
Snyder: I don’t want to say I’ll never use him because I don’t want to be that jerk that, ten years [later] comes back and plays the same songs. … But this is the conclusion to the way I feel about Joker, what he means to our Batman, our version of him. There’s drastic changes to Batman’s relationship to him, and to everybody, without giving too much away, through this story. I mean this story really is meant to be the most widely cast net, the biggest in terms of celebrating Batman’s whole mythology, in one, while it’s also this kind of closing down shop in certain ways to change things. It’s kind of burn it down to build it up in a different way.
On the mistaken belief that that “Endgame” is Snyder and Capullo’s final “Batman” story:
Snyder & Capullo: No.
Capullo: No, not at all, which we get tweeted at constantly. It’s like, how many times are you gonna answer that. So I don’t even bother answering anymore. I just figure “Endgame” we’ll finish and we’ll do something else. It’s just the name of the [story]. Scott, earlier on when my contract and his contract were kind of coming toward the ending part, he’s going, “I don’t know if I want to re-sign because I don’t know if I have stories to tell. I really don’t want to do it if I don’t have really cool, big stories to tell.” You know, he’s thinking his well has gone dry. The next time I talk to him he goes, “Hey I got this idea.” So “Endgame” was one of the first ideas he told me he had and I already know what’s coming after that, so no, we’re not off. And the next thing, I can’t wait to get my hooks in that. It’s one exciting thing after another is planned. You can trust me on that.
Snyder: I try and stay nimble with it in this way. Not to give like a super aerial view or give spoilers or whatever, but the small stories that I’d like to do after this, if people are happy with the way things are going, and if they still respond to us on “Batman” the way I’d hope they do, then there is kind of a sub-plot in that, that can turn into a very big story. If they don’t and they’ve had enough of us, I always feel in some way, better to step off when–
Capullo: Before they stone you. “Go away!” [Laughs]
Snyder: I wrote “Court of Owls” to be like, “In case I never get a chance to write ‘Batman’ again,” and you try and approach each story that way. And my feeling is sort of like, the fact that everyone has been so incredibly supportive to us over the years — I didn’t expect ‘Batman’ to be at the top this far. [Capullo] is always like, “Sure you did,” but it’s amazing and we are very grateful, and I want to stay on. We have a lot of stories now in my mind, but that said, we work for the fans. I feel like we rent an apartment from the fans and at some point if they feel like they’d rather have other people on the book then we’ll take a bow and say thank you for the time and feel great about what we’ve been able to do.
On Snyder and Capullo as a modern day classic duo on “Batman”:
Capullo: He still drives himself nuts. I’m the guy talking him off the ledge, but it’s only at the beginning of a story arc. It’s like stage fright, you know. You know I played in bands and the first one or two songs you got the butterflies in your stomach and then you’re just doing what you’re doing. The thing I tell Scott all the time is, “We don’t have control over whether somebody is going to like it or not. You just do your best. And that’s all you can do at the end of the day.” So he starts off nervous — I don’t start off nervous, I just go, “How hard am I going to have to work on this issue?” [Laughter] But then I talk him down, I give him the pep talk. “They’re going to love it.” I think it’s great, as long as we pour all the love and hard work into it that we’ve been, At the end of the day, I think that’s what they are responding to. They’re responding to our love for Batman and that we are work horses for that, because we love it so much. I think that’s why they like what we are doing — I think it’s something more emotionally driven for them. They feel our energy going into it.
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