Just before offering up the world premiere of their movie to a packed WonderCon arena, the cast and crew of the animated "Batman vs Robin" spoke with press, including CBR News, about the latest entry in the DC Animated Universe.
Based loosely on the Court of Owls storyline by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo in the "Batman" comic book series, "Batman vs Robin" is also a sequel to the 2014 DC animated movie "Son of Batman," which introduced Bruce Wayne's son Damian as Robin. However, that shouldn't deter those who missed the previous installment away from watching this one.
"You don't have to have seen 'Son of Batman' to pick up with this at all," writer J.M. DeMatteis said. "It's certainly the emotional sequel... because it's the next step in the Batman/Damian relationship. What we did was, we took elements that we liked from Court of Owls -- really, the mythology and certain figures -- then certain elements from some other Batman stories. What we did with those was, it sort of became a foundation that we built a whole new story on."
Producer James Tucker explained that in addition to pulling from the Court of Owls's comic story, the movie drew on a tale featuring villain NoBody from "Batman and Robin," by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. "NoBody was a character who was tempting Damian to come to the dark side, and Batman has to pull him back," Tucker said. "That idea was what motivated the script. We changed the villain, because Court of Owls is, like, the best villain group since the League of Assassins. With that, we had Talon, who we could use in place of NoBody."
And why Talon? The answer is simple: "Talon's cool," character designer Phil Bourassa succinctly explained. "He's Batman with no rules."
Actor Jason O'Mara returns as Batman/Bruce Wayne, playing the character for the fourth time. "In this series of movies, we're committing to the whole nature of this idea of a Batman family, and you can't tell the story of Damian Wayne unless you go into Batman's psyche," he said. "I think they're the Batman stories I enjoy most. There was a phase there, for a while, where Batman was mostly just solving crimes. And as compelling as that can be, sometimes it can come off like 'CSI' in a cowl. This is really much more emotionally charged. He's threatened by Talon, and also by Nightwing, in a way, because they're just as viable as mentors to Damian. I think that's what I was most excited about, was using Batman's dark history to shed some light on his relationship with Damian."
Actor Stuart Allan also returns, reprising his role from "Son of Batman" as Damian Wayne. "Damian has reached a point where every kid wonders, who am I, what do I want to do with my life -- that kind of thing," Allan said. "Now, Damian's conflicted between his League of Assassins instinctive nature with the Court of Owls, or to stay with the innate justice sense of Batman. Being with Batman for a few months now, he has that Batman voice drilled into his head."
As the title implies, the two characters eventually face off, and the movie features several appropriately elaborate action sequences. "There's actually a car chase in here," DeMatteis said. "It's a really wonderful sequence in the movie. It's beautifully animated. There's a lot of great action sequences." Both Allan and director Jay Oliva cited the final fight sequence, between Batman and Talon, as a highlight of the film.
While watchable as an enjoyable standalone story, "Batman vs Robin" does build on the events of DC and Warner Bros' previous animated features, and will feed into upcoming movies, although the creators were all tight-lipped about what those might be. "We're not really doing strict adaptations, but I will say there are some heavily 'inspired by' storylines coming up that I can't talk about, although one of them the fans have been wanting forever," Tucker said. "That's all I can say about that."
As for the future, DeMatteis said, "The only thing that we have to set up that may or may not springboard is just the relationships. The Batman/Damian relationship starts off in one place at the beginning of this movie, goes through quite a journey and then ends up in a very different place by the end. And that's the springboard -- where does it go from here?"
"Batman vs Robin" is available now via digital download and April 14 on DVD and Blu-ray.