DC Comics' Gregory Noveck Discusses "Batman Gotham Knights"
Reported by Jay Cochran - 2008.05.30
DC Universe original animated movies are created by a unique collaboration between four diverse units within the Warner Bros. family – Warner Premiere, Warner Home Video, Warner Bros Animation and, the source of the characters and many of the stories, DC Comics. Leading the charge for the latter group is Gregory Noveck, Senior Vice President, Creative Affairs for the iconic comics company, and credited as Executive in Charge of Production for DC Comics on all of the DC Universe films.
Noveck was instrumental in launching “Batman Gotham Knight” into production, guiding the team toward its original concept and recruiting an amazing array of writing talent for the project. It proved to be a most interesting production at every turn – including diverging from many of the traditional processes to bridge the creativity between the writers, the production team at Warner Bros. Animation and the directors and animators at three individual studios in Japan.
As Noveck says, the end result is even more intriguing, inspiring and visually stimulating – and he looks forward to witnessing the reaction of Batman fans across the planet. His first opportunity will come at Wizard World Chicago on June 28 when he moderates the panel following the world premiere of “Batman Gotham Knight.”
“Batman Gotham Knight” will arrive July 8, 2008 on DVD and Blu-Ray disc, and will also be available that day On Demand via digital cable and for download through broadband sites.
Noveck explained the origins of “Batman Gotham Knight,” his sentiments on the movie, and his thoughts on how it will be received by fans in a short interview this week.
Question: How did this film originate, particularly in terms of recruiting such a fantastic group of writers and animators?
Gregory Noveck: When we decided to make this film, we wanted to get the best Japanese animators and the best Batman writers we could. David Goyer was an obvious choice, having written “Batman Begins” and the story for “The Dark Knight” and knowing Batman so well. Jordan Goldberg had worked with the Nolans extensively on the films and was a natural to help us conceive the story. Then we said, “Who has written some of the best Batman comics?” and Brian Azzarello and Greg Rucka immediately came to mind. We wanted a screenwriter with a gritty, realistic tone, and we thought of Josh Olson, coming off an Academy Award nomination for “A History of Violence.” And then we said, “Is there someone that has been involved with Batman for a long time and never gotten the chance to really go edgy with the character?” Alan Burnett was the easy call there. Amazingly, everything fell into place. Everyone was our first choice, everyone said yes, and we ended up with an awesome lineup.
Question: Do you have a favorite segment amongst the six?
Gregory Noveck: All of the segments have a special appeal to me for different reasons – from Greg Rucka’s Gotham Central aspect to Brian Azzarello showing us a side of Batman we’ve never seen before, to Burnett’s showcase of Deadshot. It’s all pretty dazzling. Conceptually, my favorite is probably Josh Olson’s opening segment because you get the unique, individual perception of Batman through the eyes of several people. The entire movie is really about that theme – how Batman is viewed from other perspectives – and that theme succeeds on many different levels.
Question: Does the final visual product match what you envisioned when the film was initially discussed?
Gregory Noveck: The look of the film ended up being something I couldn’t have imagined. The idea was to bring in some of these really well known Japanese animators, people who might have always wanted to work on Batman and never had the opportunity, and just let them have at it. There were certain limitations on what they could do – in terms of staying within the styles. They couldn’t put him in red, not that they wanted to. But what they did really exceeded anything beyond what I’d imagined. They gave Batman so many new, different looks, and still kept him recognizable as Batman, and that’s what we wanted.
The opening segment – and the very first Batman that audience will see in the film – is a very good example of the limitlessness of the animators’ creativity. To see that for the first time was strange, but really cool. Not just his physical appearance as a shadow morphing into the Batman, but when he turns toward the camera and gives that first look, it really catches you. At first, it was strange to see – but when you put it in the perspective of that image being seen through a kid’s eyes, then it makes perfect sense. And that segment has grown to be the most visually arresting. I like the Batman in Jordan Goldberg’s “Field Test” segment because he reminds me of the G-Force/Battle of the Planets cartoons when I was a kid. Batman has such a sleek, high-tech appearance – I just love the look of him in that segment.
Question: You know the Batman and comics fans as well as anyone. How do you think the fans will react to this Batman film?
Gregory Noveck: I think fans will be enthralled with the film’s strong blend of original, never-before-seen interpretations of Batman and some very familiar aspects of the character. The visuals of this film are amazing, particularly the unique perspectives of Batman and the detailed, intriguing visions of Gotham City. At the same time, fan favorite Kevin Conroy keeps Batman grounded in familiar territory with his renowned voice – as does the inclusion of both villains like Scarecrow and Killer Croc, and allies like Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, Lucius Fox and Crispus Allen of Gotham Central fame. It’s a great mix and I think, from the opening moments to the closing credits, fans will be blown away.