JUSTICE LEAGUE ANIMATED: Behind the Scenes Part 1
Of the various entries in the DC Tooniverse, among the most-missed is Justice League/Justice League Unlimited. Now, with JL and some variation of JL Dark in development as live action films, focus is being turned back to that show with a multi-part behind the scenes look.
Beginning today, Voices From Krypton.net is launching a twice-weekly feature that will chronicle the entire run of the show, featuring interviews with the primary cast members from Justice League and behind the scenes comments from various writer/producers, including Bruce Timm and James Tucker. What follows is an excerpt from the first installment:
When Batman The Animated Series made its debut in 1991, it was viewed as innovative, ground-breaking and unlike any other animated show to have been aired in the television medium’s history.
Not surprisingly, the show spawned a number of spin-offs (among them The Adventures of Batman and Robin and Gotham Knights), and its success paved the way for Superman The Animated Series and Batman Beyond, which took place 50 years in the future and chronicled the efforts of an elderly Bruce Wayne to train his successor. All told, an impressive track record for everyone involved, among them executive producer Bruce Timm. Ironically, though, it was precisely his previous success in animating DC Comics superheroes that prevented him from initially embracing the notion of a series based on the adventures of the Justice League.
“I kind of dodged the Justice League bullet for years, because I knew how difficult it would be,” he admits. “Just in terms of its scope and the fact that you had seven major players in it. Truthfully, we’d never done a show with that many superheroes in it. All the shows we’d done prior to that were one-character shows that would occasionally have guest stars or sidekicks. But even those shows were a hint of things to come in that every time we had an episode with Batman and Robin or Batgirl, just in staging the action scenes, it was difficult to do.”
That difficulty, he explains, came from the idea of keeping the characters in motion at the same time. In other words, if too much time is spent on Batgirl fighting someone, the audience is asking, “What’s Batman doing?”, so there is a need to then cut to Batman. Naturally at that point the audience is then asking, “What’s Batgirl doing?”
“It’s as simple as that,” Timm says. “It’s an extra problem that makes the storytelling a little more difficult. Suddenly you have to keep seven characters in motion and they all have fantastic powers. Just trying, for example, to come up with a way of staging the Flash so he doesn’t come off looking like a total moron is really difficult, because he can be everywhere at once. We know that really doesn’t work in any kind of filmic medium. Nobody should ever be able to get the drop on the Flash; his reflexes should be so fast that nobody should be able to land a punch on him or shoot him with a ray gun.”
Although interest in the concept of a Justice League series was mounting, Timm resisted – until about the time that production on Batman Beyond was winding down and there was a sense of determination to keep the production team together on a new project. According to Justice League co-producer James Tucker, at that time the Kids WB expressed interest in a new series that would skew to a young audience.
“Development was done on a Batman Anime show that kind of reflects on what Teen Titans became,” he reflects. “And we developed a more youth-oriented version of Justice League. Thank God both of those projects never happened, although there’s a tape out there of a very kiddified Justice League that included Robin and a teenage female version of Cyborg. It was our attempt to try and do something that wasn’t as edgy or as dark as we would normally want to go."
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