Batman: Year One - From Comic to the Screen
RD: Was there fear that there wasn't enough action in the story?
SL: For me I was like "I don't know how this is going to go," because Christopher Nolan and so many other people whether they be Batman stories or other stories have taken elements from Year One. So I was a little concerned that people would say that they have seen this in movies before. Also most of the DC Direct movies have been about action. Big fight scenes. These apocalyptic tales. But this one is like an old mobster type movie like Scarface or Serpico. For me I thought if we made it into a superhero movie we're going to fail.
I was trying to push in more elements of the city and the mob. In the end, it's Batman fighting the nephew of the lead gangster who is kind of dumb, so I felt no one would be impressed by that because it's not like you're fighting Darkseid. So it was a challenge. It was a movie you had to immerse people in the character or else it was going to fail. It was like All-Star Superman because that was something different then we had been doing with the DC Direct stuff. It was a lot more personal.
RD: The story makes Gotham a place where it's going to take more than one person to make a change. The nephew is just part of a bigger problem. If he's gone there is someone worse to take his place.
SL: Yeah. It really wanted to hit that more though. I wanted to push the fact the police are in cahoots with the gangsters and all of the big powers. All of them are pressing Gordon, who is the public face of wanting to do right. Batman is coming in and helping him out.
RD: When it comes to pacing, how do you view the difference between comic storytelling and filmic storytelling?
SL: In both mediums you can cheat time, but I feel in animation it's more difficult to do it. You have to explain things a little more. The separate dates on the screen helped a lot.
There is a scene where Gordon is having a nice dinner with his wife and she is massaging him and then it cuts to another Gordon scene, so Lauren and I were like "how are we going to transition out of this?" It's from a Gordon moment to another Gordon moment if we just cut it will look like it happened 30 minutes later. Is it the next day or the next week? So those are the problems that you run into in animation that a comic book doesn't have.
RD: How did you divvy up the directing duties between you and Lauren?
SL: Lauren and I worked together before on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and on that one we were both a little freer so we worked together a lot, but with this one we were both so busy. I was editing All-Star Superman at the time and she was working on Green Lantern: Emerald Knights at the time. So it was about availability. We have offices right next to each other so we were like I'm busy for the next couple of days could you look at whatever else comes in sort of thing. Or there were sections that would come in and we were like you take this, this and this and I'll take that, that and that. I would do my revisions on it and I'd show her and she'd make additional changes and if we didn't agree we'd talk about it. It was a back and forth type of thing. It was out of necessity.
RD: This seems like a project Bruce Timm really wanted to do. How much was he involved?
SL: Bruce isn't as interested in the middle part, the building part. I feel like he is very specific about design. We went through a few people to find the ones who got the closest to the Mazzucchelli style. He is specific about the basic story and the writing process of it. Because he has worked with us on a couple of these, I hope he trusts us. He is very hands-on in the beginning and at the very end during the edit session.