Writer Judd Winick Talks Batman: Under The Red Hood
QUESTION: Executive Producer Bruce Timm says your pitch was unorthodox in that it was over the phone and yet was absolutely perfect and completely sold him. How’d you pull that off?
JUDD WINICK: I’d given a rougher pitch to Gregory Noveck (DC Comics’s Senior Vice President of Creative Affairs) and he loved it, but we had to pitch it to the gang. The schedule worked out that I had to be in San Francisco, and they had to be in Burbank. That’s not the ideal way to pitch, especially for me – I like to jump around a lot, shout a lot, wave my hands and be theatrical. That’s especially true for this pitch because it’s a very emotional script. I kind of sold the idea in the first five minutes of the pitch, which was essentially describing the first five minutes of the movie.
I thought this would be a cool animated feature, but to really tell this story, we had to find a way to show Robin dying. We had to get the history in quickly to start the movie with that emotional smack. So I’m on my head set, going through this scene, talking about Batman barreling down the street of Sarajevo, the Joker beating Robin to death,. I’m banging my hands on the desk, yelling as loud as I can, and by the time I said “Fade to black, cue to opening credits,” it was just dead quiet on the other end of the line. I said, “Is everybody still there?” And they said, “Yeah, that was awesome.” Done. Sold.
QUESTION: How did you first enter the Batcave as a fan?
JUDD WINICK: Like many people of my age, I’m sure I was reading the comics but I remember watching the TV series more – and not really liking it. It didn’t quite feel right. I know I enjoyed it more like watching Super Friends, but I really gravitated toward the comics more than anything. The series wasn’t dark enough. It didn’t have the edge I wanted in my Batman. Ultimately, the TV show gave me a sense of what I didn’t want Batman to be, even back then.
QUESTION: For The Real World fans out there … do you have any inclination to do another reality show?
JUDD WINICK: I would say NEVER. Laughs. Doing reality was like elective surgery. I got the nose job, it worked out just fine. I don’t need a touch up, and I don’t need another one. When they started to do the follow-ups, we just kept saying “No” until they stopped asking us. We have jobs and responsibilities and really don’t need the money or the humiliation. And most importantly, we had a fairly extraordinary and terrible experience during the show and still came out positively. We are very lucky in that way, and I would not assume to tempt fate and do anything like it again.
QUESTION: Do you feel Batman: Under the Red Hood fits into Batman’s current live-action film tone?
JUDD WINICK: I’d say Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was sort of the catalyst. After seeing that film, it got my juices going thinking that we could do something like that with a Red Hood arc. At the time, I didn’t even know what Warner Premiere was working on. It all started with a quick email to Gregory (Noveck) asking if they were looking for any more Batman features. Comics and film present very specific camps for the characters and the stories. Animation should be its own genre that straddles between the two that can give comic fans the product their hoping to see, and provide a new vision for the fans who only know these characters in the most mainstream way.
QUESTION: Do you like presenting your stories in animated form?
JUDD WINICK: I really do. I’m a cartoonist. I don’t draw for money, and mostly what I do is the writing. But that’s how I view myself more than anything else – as a cartoonist. I grew up on animation, and I always loved knowing that the cartoons on the page could actually come to life. I worshipped at the alter of Chuck Jones, and realized at a very young age that one guy did all the things I love best. I love it as a medium and I love how it’s evolved. Animation features have exploded – there is more high-end animation being produced now than ever before, and I think that’s great.