Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Editor
Official Description: Throughout his 75 year history, the Dark Knight has become one of the most popular and widely recognized super heroes in the world. From comics to TV to movies to video games, the World’s Greatest Detective has permeated all entertainment mediums and beyond. Come by for a look at Batman’s rich history and what the future holds for this pop culture icon with industry titans and other surprise Guests!
VP John Cunningham came out onto the stage to introduce all of the guests DC Entertainment has brought for the Batman 75th Anniversary Panel. First up, the write of Batman: Earth One and Justice League, CCO of DC Entertainment, Geoff Johns, to the roaring applause of the crowd. Kevin Conroy, the iconic voice of Batman, walked onto the stage to the standing ovation of the crowd before saying the titular, “I am vengeance, I am the night, I am BATMAN!” The crowd went absolutely wild. Comic book legend Neal Adams came on next. Next up, Batman artist Greg Capullo–again to a standing ovation albeit smaller than Kevin Conroy’s but the love for him in the room was felt. Cunningham introduced Scott Snyder to the room as well, with another incredibly standing ovation. Again, standing ovation to welcome the influential Jim Lee to the stage.
Who’s your favorite Batman villain and why?
Johns: It’s hard to say. It’s personally whoever I’m working on right now. I think the Joker’s the best one, though, you can’t go wrong.
Conroy: I’m very biased for the Joker because of Mark Hamill. I never thought anyone would top Mark Hamil, but then Heath Ledger came in. It’s like the live-action Batman: each time someone new brings something different to it, it shows how multifaceted the characters are.
Adams: Probably Ra’s Al Ghul. I like him, he’s good.
Capullo: I would have to go with Doctor Doom, he’s got the cool metal mask. Nah, it’s the Joker. He’s a monster in human flesh to me. We have those guys walking around that scare me, so definitely the Joker. He plays off of Batman perfectly.
Snyder: Yeah… Joker. For me, I think the thing that’s so great about him is his adaptability. Our version is that he sees what you think is true about yourself, the thing you’re afraid of, and show you how true it is to break you. That character is almost like the Devil and the Devil’s tongue in some way.
Lee: Catwoman is my favorite. I’m a big fan of the Julie Newman character. Catwoman seems like such a nice character–I just felt tingly and funny watching her as a kid.
Are there any moments in history that stood out to you, Neal?
Adams: You have to understand that Denny was a crime reporter before coming to writing. So, when Denny was proposed as the writer for me to do Batman, Julie [Schwartz] paired me with him. Denny always said I drew realistically enough that he could do what was in his mind.
What is it you think makes Batman a durable icon?
Adams: First of all, I think it’s the same Batman for all these years. We just see different interpretations of the same character. I found that doing a novel with Batman wasn’t a difficult thing to do in that… I guess I was raised on Sherlock Holmes. He’s Sherlock Holmes, he’s smarter than anyone. If I could write a novel that kept Batman ahead of everyone for 300 pages and you didn’t realize it till the end, that would be a good novel, and that’s what I did with Batman Odyssey.
Conroy: I had no idea what I was getting involved in. Just as an actor, I approached it as an actor. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini had to explain to me the character’s background. I realized it was a very classic, tragic character, so I just approached it that way. But what’s amazing to me is–to have been a part of it for so many years–how iconic the character is with so much of our country and culture. People tell me the most intimate stories of their childhood and how Batman helped them.
Conroy: There was a young woman who came up to me in the verge of tears and she said, “I grew up in the projects. Most of my friends are dead. When my friends were joining gangs, I watched Batman and it kept me sane.” Isn’t that amazing? She said, “It kept me sane and it’s the reason I’m alive and I just wanted to thank you.” Batman was the thing she focused on. I hear stories like that all the time–these very personal, dramatic stories.
Conroy: Someone asked what’s the lesson of Batman? And so I told them, “Never, ever, ever give up. He doesn’t give up, no one should give up.”
Cunningham then showed the videoed for the Batman 75th Anniversary shorts. When the videos didn’t immediately play, Conroy teased the “Am I Blue” song he sang during Justice League Unlimited. The Hush cover was then shown.
Lee: I wanted the book to be canon and a part of continuity. So I asked that if we could produce it on a monthly run, could it be canon? So the team made a secret pact in many months to produce so many pages and Mike Carlin and I made a $100 bet about this. We made so many pages on time that we got to do it regularly. I also really wanted to establish that Thomas Wayne had a mustache. I was so influenced by Dark Knight Returns, but by the end, it’s more like an acrobatic figure.
What was it like working with Frank on All-Star Batman and Robin?
Lee; I never imagined we’d work together on Batman. It was controversial at the time it came out, because he pushed Batman so far. It’s so interesting to me that a phrase like “I’m the Goddamn Batman” became such an iconic line. I tell you, every script was just so well written. I had to keep reminding myself to be me instead of draw it like Frank. I learned a lot about storytelling working with a guy like Frank.
The panel then turned to Batman: Earth One and premiered the cover and some pages from the second volume. Johns said it was “a super different take on Batman, but we’re super proud of it. We have plans for more after this, too. Thanks to all who read the first one.”
So Scott, can you talk about Endgame Part 1? You guys Jokerized the whole Justice League. Where’s this going?
Snyder: It’s meant to announce how big this story is going to be. The Joker’s back and it’s something we’ve been planning for over two years. This is about Joker playing a game with them. This has basically the entire cast in a lot of ways–it’s a celebration of Batman’s mythology. It’s really fun and we’re having a blast on it. This is a culmination of everything we’ve done.
Conroy: Speaking from an actor’s perspective, you guys give us so much to work with. The villains are so incredible. That’s why–if you notice the cast–the cast and supporting cast of villains were such phenomenal actors because everyone wants to work on this material. On the hundredth episode of The Animated Series, an ad was put in Variety to thank everyone involved and the list was so long!
Snyder: If I could geek out for a moment, the Animated Series is one of my favorite things aside from Dark Returns. My son has gone through Batman ’66, Batman Brave and the Bold, and now he’s started The Animated Series. There’s a version of Batman that always welcomes you back to Gotham, no matter what the age.
The panel then began to talk about the new hit TV show Gotham.
Johns: We’ve been working on Gotham for so long. We’ve had a really good TV season this year. Gotham is a pretty brilliant take on these characters. Oswald Copplepot I think is my favorite. Coming up, we’ve got the origin of Arkham Asylum. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Harvey Dent is coming soon. You’ll see Selina and Bruce meet
They then showed a trailer for Gotham–nothing new or anything, jsut for the series as a whole. At that point, the panel ended without a Q&A.