The DC Animated Universe continues to grow with new direct to video films. Crew and cast of the newest animation descended upon New York Comic Con to talk about what's to come.
The panel began with emcee Gary Miereanu from Warner Home Video announcing that the panel would include discussion of Batman: Year One, along with the exclusive premier of the accompanying Catwoman short, and footage from next year's Justice League: Doom.
Without further ado, Miereanu welcomed to the stage voice director Andrea Romano, to thunderous applause, and the man who he calls “the architect of DC Animation,” Bruce Timm. The audience reacted with fervor to Timm's arrival, which Miereanu says is good. “He always complains that Andrea gets more applause!”
Miereanu then announced that before they go any further, he thinks the audience should see the Catwoman short, included with Batman Year One, available now on DVD, Blu-ray, and on demand.. “But I can't properly introduce it,” he said, welcoming Eliza Dushku, the voice of Catwoman in both the short, and Batman: Year One to the stage. Dushku announced the clip, and the lights dimmed.
The short is fast paced, featuring Catwoman going up against a villain named Rough Cut, an original creation from writer Paul Dini. The action scenes are fluid, featuring a chase sequence reminiscent of some of the Batpod scenes from The Dark Knight film. Also included is a decidedly PG-13 sequence that takes place in a strip club, something sure to raise some eyebrows given the recent discussions regarding DC's treatment of its female characters.
“It's fifteen minutes of sex and violence that didn't make it into Year One,” Timm explained afterwards.
“I think they liked it!” Miereanu exclaimed, quipping, “The amount of research that went into the strip club sequence was extensive!”
Moving on to Batman: Year One, Timm explained that Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli's “Year One” is his favorite story of all time. “The story really blew me away when it came out. It really blew my mind. We've stayed religiously faithful to the characters and the story.”
“It's more of a cop movie,” he explained, “It's more about Commissioner Gordon than Bruce Wayne or Batman.” He said the film is cinematic and grounded in reality. He also discusses the film's score, saying “I didn't want it to sound like a Batman movie.”
Andrea Romano moved on to discussing the voice cast, which included Brian Cranston. “My job was to stay the heck out of Brian's way!” she said, citing his work in both comedy and drama, and his experience with voice work. Of Ben McKenzie, the film's Batman, Romano said he has a “very youthful voice, but with a darkness in it.” She described the casting of Eliza Dushku as Catwoman as a “no brainer,” saying that they'd been trying to work with her for some time. “She did all of her own dancing, too!” Miereanu joked.
At this point, Miereanu welcomed 20-year Batman voice veteran Kevin Conroy to the panel, surprising the fans who had been unknowingly sitting near him. “He is vengeance, he is the night!” Miereanu exclaimed to an outpouring of cheers and applause. Conroy quickly took the microphone, saying simply, “Hello,” in his familiar Batman voice. After allowing the continued applause to die down, he went on, repeating the famous quote, “I am vengeance! I am the night! I am... BATMAN!” The audience went wild.
The panel moved forward, introducing footage from Justice League: Doom, which is based on Mark Waid's “Tower of Babel” story, and the final script produced by the late, great Dwayne McDuffie.
The clip was brief, showing a gathering of villains, including Vandal Savage, Mirror Master, Star Sapphire, Bane, the Royal Flush Gang, and Cheetah. The clip went on to showcase each villain facing off against his or her nemesis, including a scene of Bane fighting an out of costume Bruce Wayne in a graveyard.
On the cast, Timm says that it's like “a family reunion, that you hand picked.” Kevin Conroy returns to his role as Batman, and is joined by DCAU Alums Tim Daly, Karl Lumly, and Michael Rosenbaum. Romano says that the only cast member who had a hard time getting back to the roles was Michael Rosenbaum, who had difficulty adjusting to voicing Barry Allen, as opposed to his former role as Wally West.
Explaining the story of Justice League: Doom, Timm says that Batman has developed contingency plans to take out each member of the Justice League, and the film follows what happens when those plans fall into the wrong hands. “Nobody's perfect!” Conroy exclaims as Batman, “Damn that hacked iPhone!”