CCI: "Batman: No Rest for the Dark Knight"

DC's Batman panel Friday afternoon at Comic Con International in San Diego finds writers Grant Morrison, Brian Azzarello, and Paul Dini, along with artist Dustin Nguyen and editor Michael Marts, talking about all aspects of Batman's life. CBR is reporting live from the panel, so refresh your browser regularly for the latest information.

"Has anybody seen this move, 'The Dark Knight?'" Marts asked to open. He then introduced members of the panel, which included a surprise appearance by classic "Batman" creator Jerry Robinson.

"Bruce is in trouble," Morrison said of the "Batman RIP" finale, which he has just completed.

"I was supposed to be visiting the set in Chicago" for the "Dark Knight," Robinson said, but instead he visited a comic convention in China. He eventually had a chance to see the London set of "Dark Knight." On the magic of movies, Robinson said that the scene in which the Joker throws Rachel out of a window was filmed in Chicago, but Batman's rescue was filmed in London. "So he threw her out a window in Chicago, and she landed in London."

Robinson said he is working on "a secret project" involving the Joker.

Azzarello mentioned his segment on the "Gotham Knight" DVD and upcoming "Joker" graphic novel.

"Detective Comics" #850 will be a double-sized issue and conclude the Hush storyline, Dini said. "Dustin, did you just learn you're doing a double sized issue," Marts asked. "Yeah, I did," Nguyen confessed.

Marts then opened the floor to fan questions.

Robinson said he enjoyed Heath Ledger's "very different" performance in the "Dark Knight," noting how the character has changed through the years. But "I thought that [the movie] could have been cut maybe ten or fifteen minutes." Robinson also marveled at Two-Face's CGI makeup, though joked he was "disappointed" that it didn't take hours of makeup.

"What's the most twisted bad guy we could put up against Batman," Morrison said of the inspiration for RIP. "Nobody's guessed it yet."

Morrison said that Rainbow Batman will not appear in his run, but joked that "he's kind of implicit."

Azzarello said that "Joker" is the "the most violent thing I've ever written," and that "it's just an ugly story."

"The Joker's great to write," Morrison said, "because he changes all the time." The writer noted that in early stories "he never smiles, and when he does it's really bad." He also compared the character to "the guy on the subway looking over your shoulder, reading your book. You just want him to go away."

"Joker's kind of this European, David Bowie, 1970s type of character, you can see him stripped to suspenders, and he thinks he's beautiful," Morrison continued. "But he's horrible!" The writer said that, on the opposite side, Batman was "a specimen of the American man."

Nguyen expressed support for the animated Joker's black lips in lieu of lipstick, an opinion which was unpopular with fans.

"We never even explained why he was there, or his color," Robinson said of Joker's origins. "I took his look, originally, from a playing card, then thought wouldn't it be interesting if we didn't color him, if we left him white. Make that part of the mystery."

"He a mask," Morrsion jumped in. "He doesn't have to be a human being." Dini added that "we know what makes Batman tick; we don't know what drives the Joker."

A fan asked about the one villain each creator "can not wait" to write or draw.

"It's the Joker for me, sorry to be so obvious," Morrison said. Dini agreed. "I'd write a Joker comic that had nothing to do with Batman," he said.

An episode of "Batman: Brave and the Bold" will see Batman squariing off against Bat-mite, Dini said,

On the current mystery Batman villain: "I can't believe it, nobody's guessed it--it's so up front, right there in every issue we tell you who we're dealing with. And it's a villain everybody knows."

The panel was asked to speculate as to the plot of the next Batman movie. It was generally agreed that the Joker would not return due to Ledger's death, but "Batman vs. the Police" seemed handily set up. Or, there's Morrison's story: "Batman needs some loving!"

Two Face in the main Batman titles? "I'd say yes," Marts said, adding that the character would appear in 2009. But Morrison said there were no plans for Two-Face in his title.

Asked about differences between Ledger's Joker and the character as Robinson created him, Robinson said that "I think he's got a lot more sinister than we intended, a lot more psychotic. He had been more of a master criminal."

Morrison shook his head at the idea of Ace the Bat-hound. "Is he still alive?" the writer asked. "I think Ace is dead"

"He's mounted in the trophy room," Dini joked.

Will Batman ever find happiness? "No," Morrison said. "I'm gonna go see 'Momma Mia!'"

Morrison and Dini both likened the current Joker's physical presence to Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.

Noting that "Detective" and "Batman" are two of DC's longest-running titles, a fan asked whether this history made it easier or more difficult to write the series. "There's certainly a lot of material to refer back to," Dini said, but added that he struggles to make sure he doesn't "repeat a story that was done twenty years ago, and better."

Another fan asked which "Batman" film portrayals were closest to the characters. "'Dark Knight' was the greatest Batman movie ever made," Morrison said, to applause.

Best Bat-vehicle? "The Bat-gyro," Morrison said. "If anyone can build me a Bat-gyro I'll love you forever."

Morrison shouted down the idea of Batman using guns. "Never! Never, never, never! That's the whole point, he doesn't use weapons." When the fan continued, fans booed for him to sit down. Morrison concluded that, "If he uses a gun, he's just another soldier; we don't need a soldier, we need Batman."

The Batman and Catwoman relationship "features very heavily in the Hush story arc," Dini said. The fan asked if the relationship would "last more than five minutes," leading to some baudy humor. "#850 is a double-sized issue," Dini joked.

Morrison said "Batman" and "Detective" would remain seperate, but that there would be changes in both series soon.

Next question: "Does the Joker have a sexuality?" "Everything is a weapon to the Joker, including sexuality," Morrison said. "So, he's whatever makes you uncomfortable." Azzarello added that this would be explored in his "Joker" graphic novel.

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