The Biggest Superhero Films That Didn't Happen, Part 2
Comic Books, Film
DC Entertainment’s latest direct-to-DVD animated film, Justice League: Gods and Monsters, marks the return of Bruce Timm to DC’s superheroes. Timm is, of course, a familiar presence to a generation of fans, as cartoons featuring his design style and creative input were on television from the 1992 debut of Batman: The Animated Series to the 2006 finale of Justice League Unlimited (and those shows and everything in between them now live forever online and on DVD).
Gods and Monsters features Timm’s designs, and he additionally co-wrote the story with longtime collaborator Alan Burnett and executive produced the film (Sam Liu directed it).
DC is certainly treating the film as an event, as the company has produced a suite of a half-dozen tie-in comics, something not usually done for animated projects (although it should be noted the bulk of its recent animated films have been direct adaptations of particular story arcs, making comic tie-ins redundant; Gods and Monsters shares a title with a 2001 JLA one-shot, but is otherwise an original project).
Bruce Timm’s Justice League: Gods & Monsters, the direct-to-video animated feature the re-envisions Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in a darker, alternate universe, won’t just spawn a comics prequel. The DC Universe Original Movie has inspired a line of action figures as well.
DC Collectibles has unveiled a first look at the 7-inch figures from the first wave, arriving this fall: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman (although in Gods & Monsters, none of them is the hero fans have come to know). As you can see in the images below, each features interchangeable hands, while Batman also comes with an alternate, unmasked head, and Wonder Woman with her sword.
Released Tuesday, DC Comics’ solicitations for April not only includes the listings for the DC Collectibles Designer Series action figures inspired by Jae Lee’s work, but also the first deluxe figure from the line based on Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures: none other than Roxy Rocket!
Created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for 1994’s Batman Adventures Annual #1 before making the leap to television in 1988 with the New Batman Adventures episode “The Ultimate Thrill,” Roxy is a Hollywood stunt double turned jewel thief who initially mistook Batman’s high-risk pursuit of her for romantic interest. She reappeared on an episode of Superman: The Animated Series.
Warner Digital Series and DC Entertainment have partnered with visual-effects company Otoy to develop an immersive entertainment experience that will allow users to explore the Batcave from Batman: The Animated Series through interactive holographic video for virtual-reality displays.
In short, that means fans will be able use devices like Oculus Rift, the Samsung Galaxy Gear VR and forthcoming “glasses-free” light field displays to step into the world of the beloved and influential 1990s cartoon.
The big news from DC Collectibles ahead of this weekend’s Toy Fair 2014 is, of course, the new collector’s line of 6-inch action figures based on Bruce Timm’s designs from Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, debuting in November. There are also figures from the direct-to-video animated films Son of Batman and Infinite Crisis, and Superman, Wonder Woman and Zatanna statues, among others.
However, for my money, it’s tough to beat the announcement of a line of action figures based on Li’l Gotham, the digital-first series by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, beginning with Batman, Robin, The Joker and Harley Quinn. Nguyen has posted his designs for the figures, which are just as adorable as you’d expect.
A Redditor and his girlfriend did a bit of “urban exploring” in an abandoned building in Ronse, Belgium, only to discover a treasure trove of incredible Batman graffiti in several styles — all by one artist, Pete One.
There are murals in the obligatory Bruce Timm animated style, a couple of pieces based on Brian Bolland’s Joker from The Killing Joke, and even a slightly out of place Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. But my favorite is the recreation of Jock’s already-iconic cover for Detective Comics #880.
Years before Bruce Timm made his mark on superheroes with his work on Batman: The Animated Series, he plied his trade in the early 1980s as a background and layout artist for the animation studio Filmation. While he spent his days working on cartoons like G.I. Joe and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Timm devoted his nights to pitching Marvel and DC Comics. After a chance meeting with a Marvel editor, Timm got his break — but not at the House of Ideas. Instead, he made his professional comics debut in 1984 on the Masters of the Universe minicomics.
For three years Timm worked on this series, packaged with the Mattel action figures, sometimes inking other artists and sometimes drawing his own. He contributed several covers to the series, especially in the European editions. Here’s a sampling of the various covers and pin-ups he’s done, as well as some interior pages. Be warned: It’s a lot different than the Bruce Timm time you’ve grown to love from animation, but it still has a special charm.
Welcome to “Report Card,” our week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is typically a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read.
So read on to find out what we thought about Superman, Tropic of the Sea and more.
Saturday was the birthday of actress Elsa Lanchester, so to celebrate, John Rozum posted an amazing gallery of art inspired by her most famous role, the Bride of Frankenstein. A ton of comics artists are included and you can see many of them below the break. Be sure to visit Rozum’s site for even more, including additional pieces by Mike Mignola, Kevin Nowlan and Bruce Timm, as well as art by Basil Gogos, William Stout, and Mike McKone. Continue Reading »
Here’s a little addendum to that Bruce Timm post from Friday, where we ended up learning the @BruceTimm Twitter account is a fake: since then, that account has been deleted and another fake account with that handle has been created. It turns out my earlier assumption that his art dealer is the only reliable source of new Timm art remains correct. In fact, Albert Moy has posted many new examples of his work in the last couple of days. They’re all from the recent Flesk Publications book Naughty and Nice: The Good Girl Art of Bruce Timm, so yeah, they’re all not entirely safe for work.
Meanwhile, a slightly more safe-for-work preview of the upcoming, resized, second printing is available at the Flesk website.
Living legend Bruce Timm quietly joined Twitter back in July, but only in the last couple of weeks has his activity there started to speed up. Never an ardent self-publicist, once upon a time, you had to wait for his art dealer to post his newest sketches and commissions, or else trawl Google Images. Now there’s a direct source, and it’s flowing quickly. Plenty more examples below.
UPDATE: Apparently this Twitter account isn’t actually Timm’s. Still, the art is nice.
Warner Bros’ animated adaptation of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman is so reverent and faithful toward the source material that the film, to a certain extent, feels like a pale copy of its inspiration.
That’s not necessarily a damning criticism. Bruce Timm and company took the right approach in attempting to get as close a conversion from page to screen as possible (to do otherwise would have pleased no one). But the comic itself is so rich in detail and episodic in nature that even a trim, streamlined version like this that still manages to hit a number of the right high points feels a bit flabby in comparison. Saying “the book is better” is a rather easy cheat for a critic — the book is almost always better, but I suspect that fans of the comic won’t be able to watch this without running a compare/contrast checklist in their head and find the film coming up a wee bit short. The good news is that those coming fresh to the material probably won’t notice anything wrong at all.
On last night’s show, talk show host Conan O’Brien visited his neighbors at Warner Bros. Animation and chatted with Creative Director Peter Girardi about various DC Comics characters, including “cowboy dandy” Bat Lash, Ultra the Multi-Alien and Captain Boomerang. He then worked with legendary animator Bruce Timm to create his own alter ego, The Flaming C. Check it out below:
Coming out of the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo in April, there were reports that the DC Universe Original Animated Movies might be in trouble. An “exclusive interview” with Bruce Timm (that Timm says was no such thing but the author says was) and subsequent pick-up of it by other outlets kind of left an impression that the movies weren’t doing so well.
QUESTION: There’s been a lot of internet banter regarding the discontinuation of the DCU series based on quotes attributed to an interview in Calgary with you. True or false?
BRUCE TIMM: Kinda false. First of all, it wasn’t an actual one-on-one interview — quotes were taken out of context from longer answers I gave on a panel at the Expo. Bottom line: the DCU films are definitely continuing. We’ve got projects lined up for the next two years at the very least – lots of films in different stages of development and production. I know there are a lot of rumors circulating about future films. Some are true, some are not. I’ll tell you this much – anyone at our DCU/Batman: Under the Red Hood panel at Comic-Con will walk away with a very clear picture of the direction we’re taking the DCU animated movies in the coming year.