SDCC: ‘Batman Beyond’ Hits 20–Time For a Revival?

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Batman Beyond cast and crew
Pictured from left to right: Writer Bob Goodman, Director James Tucker, writer Stan Stan Berkowitz, Will Friedle (Terry), Kevin Conroy (Batman), animation director and casting director Andrea Romano , and writer Glen Murakami.

Batman Beyond isn’t going away. Not only is there a remastered Blu-ray coming out on October 29, as announced at Comic-Con in San Diego this week, but at least two of the writers/producers of the show want a reboot.

Possibly even a live-action reboot. With a way for Kevin Conroy to continue to be Batman.

Batman Beyond at Comic-Con

I spoke with Batman Beyond writers Bob Goodman, Glenn Murakami, and Stan Berkowitz, directors James Tucker and Andrea Romano (who cast the show), and, of course, Conroy, and Will Friedle (Terry) at a press roundtable following the Blu-ray announcement at Comic-Con in San Diego.

Batman Beyond Kevin Conroy
Batmen!: Kevin Conroy and Will Friedle of ‘Batman Beyond’

Goodman, the writer of many Batman Beyond episodes who went on to be a producer on Elementary and Warehouse 13, threw his support behind a reboot.

“The time is right to do Batman Beyond now.  It’s a show about corporate greed and tech run amok, and disillusionment of the teen generation. I want to do a live action Batman Beyond series but people way above my pay grade decide that.”

And Berkowitz had an idea that would even allow Kevin Conroy to continue to play Batman, even in live action:

“If it were up to me, the way to transition the show was that Bruce would have been killed, and Terry would have wanted revenge by killing the one who killed Bruce. Terry would be in a rage, only to have him put on the suit and find the AI version of Bruce.”

Hello, WB? Anyone listening? Because this sounds awesome.

Making Batman Beyond

The cast and crew also talked about the making of Batman Beyond, from Conroy being pleased at that time that he had yet another job, to Friedle being thrilled at being cast as Terry, and the writers and directors talking about some of the decisions that led to the show that is still beloved and remembered today.

“I’m lucky to have played a character for 27 years. When you’re an actor, you never know if there’s another day. And then I had a second season. And a second show, and then another show….I had no way of knowing the snowball that started in 1991 would have taken me here,” Conroy said.

“With Batman Beyond, they said, we have a new show for you but you’re not the hero,” he laughed. “I loved the father son aspect of it. I approached Bruce in BB as a lion in winter older man. He’s still Batman in his spirit. He’s a very powerful old man.”

Conroy said he never expected when he was first cast as Batman for the role to have resonated the way it has.

“It resonated how much people loved the part when I started getting recognized on the streets, even as a voice actor. That’s not the kind of actor that usually get recognized,” he said.  “I live in NYC and I’m crossing the street and the cop car puts on its lights and I thought, this is ridiculous, I’m in trouble for jaywalking in New York City, and I hear over the loudspeaker ‘pull over Batman, we want our photos with you.'”

Friedle said the role as Terry McGuinness was one he thought he had “slim to none” chances of getting.

“I was a huge fan of Batman: The Animated Series. It was so good. But I figured there was no chance. And it’s been a ride,” he said. “I listened to the people who knew what they were talking about with voice acting. Kevin became my mentor. And I learned from Andrea, the greatest animation director in history. It could not have been a better scenario for a new voice actor.”

“Bruce likes to mess with Terry and Terry likes to mess with Bruce. We wanted that chemistry with Will and Kevin,” Romano said. She added that the series was recorded as an ensemble, allowing the actors to play off each other.

The directors and writers talked about how proud they were of the show because so much of their own vision went into it. They were all veterans of the other WB animated shows, Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, and Superman: The Animated Series.

“The team of writers/producers that moved to Batman Beyond from the other animated series all knew and loved these characters. I hope that you all feel he [Batman] was in good hands,” Goodman said.

“I’m most proud of the fact that this show was uniquely ours,” Tucker said, referring to the fact that instead of working on ideas and concepts from the comics, Batman Beyond had to create so much original material.

BB was built on their own animation mythology, we followed what we created,” Murakami said. “We’re fans. We like comics. We wanted to make something cool. We tried to be different and not to something that had been done before in our own shows.”

Several of them referenced the fact that the initial fan response to Batman Beyond and a new Batman was less than enthusiastic.

“There was a lot of pre-hate for the show based on assumptions because we were introducing a new Batman. But people came around very quickly,” Goodman said.

“Once we did ‘Return of the Joker,’ the show was accepted,” Murakami said.

More than that, given the news of the remastered Blu-ray. I bet there’s demand for that reboot as well.

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