Bruce Timm on reinventing Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in Gods and Monsters

Contributed by
Jan 25, 2016, 2:07 PM EST (Updated)

It’s not often DC lets someone tear apart the “Big Three,” but when Bruce Timm comes calling, they listen. Get ready for a very different take on Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

Timm chatted with Bleeding Cool about his new project Justice League: Gods and Monsters, which is a new animated Machinima web series that is also set for a Blu-ray film release as a feature film (it’s also spawned a companion comic-book series). The series basically serves as a hard reset of the DC universe, with Timm telling his own weird stories in his own weird world. Batman is a vampire (literally), Superman is the son of Zod, and Wonder Woman is a New God. 

The look evokes that iconic Batman: The Animated Series vibe that Timm is known for, but this ain’t your usual Saturday morning cartoon. This is hard PG-13 material right here, and Timm has had a blast tearing this thing apart and putting it back together. It’s an intriguing pitch, and Timm doesn’t seem afraid to take it to the extreme. Here’s how he described the concept, and it’s a fascinating peek into the creative process:

"I was for some reason thinking of the silver-age versions of The Flash and Green Lantern and basically what they did there with those characters was they kept the name and the gimmick of the golden-age versions and threw everything else out. They gave them new costumes, new alter egos and even changed the way their powers worked. And I thought, wouldn’t it be exciting to apply that same process to the big three. Usually the big three are sacred, you’re not allowed to mess with them. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape …

Part of the fun of these what if stories isn’t just seeing what happens to the characters but seeing what happens to the rest of the universe around them. Knowing that I wanted to keep it somewhat grounded in the DC universe, but kind of an off-kilter tangent… I went back to the origin story and I had this idea that what if at the moment of concept Superman was the son of Zod instead of Jor-El? That’s a major game changer.

I got really excited about that and I moved on to Batman. I always remember this quote from Bob Kane who said Batman was half Dracula and half Zorro. I always liked that Batman had this dark and creepy look and had all these vampire references in his costume. I wanted to do a vampire Batman, but I knew he wasn’t going to be Bruce Wayne… and I remembered the character of Kurt Langstrom in the comics who was Man-Bat. So I took Langstrom and instead of making him Man-Bat I made him a vampire Batman.

Wonder Woman was tougher to figure out. Alan Burnett and I were discussing the character. All of our original ideas were staying in the realm of Greek mythology. We had this idea we kind of liked, instead of being the daughter of Hippolyta and molded out of clay, she was going to be the daughter of Zeus. She was basically going to be Athena. She was basically going to be a female Thor and her dad was going to be an asshole like Odin. And we wondered what Olympus would look like if it was created by Jack Kirby. I came up with this design for her that had a lot of Kirby influence in it. So we were going along that line and literally a week later the new 52 comes out and sure enough Wonder Woman was going to be the daughter of Zeus. So we couldn’t do that and had to go back to the drawing board. So Alan was looking at the design I had done of Wonder Woman and said she kind of looked like one of the New Gods and I went ‘well duh’ she’s a New God. That pulled our bacon out of the fire there."

Check out the first episode below, which introduces a very different, animated version of Harley Quinn (Timm goes so far as to call her the “skanky” version of the iconic character he created on Batman: The Animated Series). Oh, there’s also a blood-sucking Batman who is ... a far cry from the Dark Knight you’re used to seeing.

(Via Bleeding Cool)