Bruce Timm interview: Batman Gotham Knight

Bruce Timm is a man who needs little introduction, with his work on Batman: The Animated series just one highlight of an extraordinary career. Here, he tells us all about Gotham Knight...

Gotham Knight is set between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Were you keen to follow the template as such set by Christopher Nolan? How closely did you work with the live action team to weave your story in?We worked as closely with them as they had time to give us, which wasn’t unfortunately a whole lot. They had a bit of full plate prepping The Dark Knight.

Can you give us an overview of the story behind Gotham Knight? What was your intention with the project? Did you want it to stand alone, even though it sits between the two films?

Both. I think the film works as a standalone in the Batman mythos as a very unique – actually, six very unique – visions of Batman. The talent involved in this film, from these visionary artists to this all-star lineup of writers – makes this a very strong standalone piece. But it was also designed to give Batman fans a little something extra, to fill in some blanks, that fall within the Batman Begins and The Dark Knight version of the character.

There are some locations and characters from the live-action films that are in the animated movie – including two characters that are introduced in Batman Gotham Knight and have a presence in The Dark Knight, both of whom originated in Greg Rucka’s Gotham Central comics. You don’t need to see Batman Gotham Knight to understand the gap between the two live-action films, but it might add to the experience.You’ve brought a distinct and acclaimed animated style to your DC animated work. Did you ever expect it to be received in the way it has been?

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Thanks for the compliment within the question. I’ve never been that focused on how I thought the audience would react – I’m more focused on satisfying my own creative drive, and surpassing my own standards as an artist. It’s the creative process that really stimulates me. For all of these projects, our primary goal is to always create a great representation of the character that both honours the character’s history while bringing something new to the table. I think it might just be that fans have enjoyed our shows because they want their characters to grow in new directions.

Was there a feeling that your style was a gamble back when you first approached your DC work?

Somewhat. The major innovation we made was to simplify and streamline the designs because, up until that point, most American animation was very detail oriented. I was going for more streamlined look that was almost cartoony. Fortunately for me, within the executive approvals process, most people seemed to understand what we were trying to do.

Is there anything else in the DC canon that you’d like to tackle, but haven’t yet?

Yes. Tons!

Can we ask then what you’ve got planned next?Wonder Woman will arrive in February of 2009, and we’re already at work on our next film for summer of 2009. But I’m sworn to secrecy on the latter project.

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Finally, have you seen The Dark Knight yet, and what did you think if you did?

I can’t say because I haven’t seen it yet!

Bruce Timm, thank you very much! 

Our review of Batman: Gotham Knight is here