Within the special features is an interesting interview. It is led by Mike Uslan with Dennis O’Neil, Dan Didio, and Scott Snyder commenting on various aspects of Batman as well as DC comics itself at times.
For anyone interested in the movie itself, well it’s very true to the source material. Very true to the source material and if you want a review on the movie itself, check out Lebeau’s Batman Year One review. Here I’ll be looking at the interview with the above members that is part of the special features for the Blu Ray version at least.
As already stated, Mike Uslan basically acts as the host here. Mostly asking questions and directing the conversation. Dennis O’Neil is the seasoned pro who gladly seems very well respected by everyone there. The outlooks he gives on his start with Batman as a kid, through how things changed up through the current date is amazing. Scott Snyder… well it seems Scott is rather soft spoken here. He does come off as very modest, but doesn’t get much chance to put a word in. Then we have Dan Didio. The focus is on Didio most of the time sadly. Unlike the other three, he talks fast and he talks a lot. For that matter, he interrupts Snyder and Uslan as they are talking! Sadly, Didio seems to stray off topic a few times in this . Like a slick and sleazy salesman, he often seems to sneak in little tidbits or even veer off completely for a moment almost as if he is using this “bat session” as a means of propaganda that everything within DC is fine and that people should have nothing to worry about. (Or maybe I am just paranoid on that part?)
There is a lot of talk of course during this about Batman himself. His origin, the core character of Batman himself, and how he has changed along with the years is brought up. O’Neil really is the key informant in regards to most of that, but then he’s been reading since he was a kid and had first joined DC in 1968. The first big topic that really hit my interest though was continuity. This of course being that NOTHING right now is certain in terms of continuity. Both Lebeau and I have articles on read/RANT on this issue. But in terms of this “bat session”, O’Neil started us off. His main points was “The characters that have survived and retained their popularity are the characters that were allowed to evolve.” He pointed out that even the Superman of the 40s was a lot different than the 50s version but it worked for he was changed to keep up with the times, while still staying who he was at the core. Didio steps in then on a bit of an odd note talking about his test for writers. That he asks them to write a Batman story for “there is so much clarity in who he is and his motivations are, if you can’t tell a story with Batman then you’re not going to have the ability to tell comic stories with superheroes.” I guess that is a neat test, but I failed to see how it related to the topic of continuity (<– the start of why I thought Didio was trying to sneak in reassurances that DC is fine and to not worry). He at least then moved on to mention that some things can stand the test of time for they will always be relatable, like the strong pain Bruce felt losing his parents as a child. That will be something everyone can imagine if they haven’t gone through it, and is relatable to people all across the world and most likely always will be. From there he agreed though with O’Neil on the aspect that things need to evolve, and need to be kept up with how the younger generation view things; an aspect I think Didio mostly fails in.
There was another part talking basically on the trend of Year Ones. I’m highlighting this bit for I thought Didio stated something very interesting here when talking about different Year Ones (his focus was on Batgirl Year One):
…two things that have happened, is that in comics today we put out so much material today that accelerates us, revisiting so that the times between our going back and re-examining the character become shorter and so therefore the impact becomes less. And the other thing, which is the most dangerous thing for us, is that we’re in a world of collected editions and books sitting on shelves, and you have Batman: Year One sitting on a shelf from now on, it’s gonna – it’s one of our evergreens so you’ll always have that book siting there.
I really found that interesting, for it almost came off to me as at least part of Didio’s reasoning behind the relaunch. First, it seems to me he likes to keep things short. Personally I view short as in our time, not comic time (even though comic time has had their timeline crunched considerably). Mostly though, it sounded like he enjoyed the fact that Batman Year One allowed him to look back only to 1987 for Batman instead of 1940. That for him being able to basically ignore 47 years of comics was a good thing! The other is the why parts of history did not get erased while other bits have: trade collections! Yes, if there is a rather popular trade out there like the Killing Joke or Batman Year One that is in a lot of homes, then you just can’t erase that history. But I guess that also means to Didio anything that isn’t high selling and collected in trades most likely found in many homes is fair game to ignore… At least unless it suits his purposes, but that would be better left for another time.
Generally though this was a rather interesting interview that of course touched up on a lot more than what I went over here. There was a good talk on Frank Miller for instance and how much he really changed things around. O’Neil even said Miller was “as good as we’ve ever had.” Snyder got asked an interesting question if he’d ever attempt to improve/add or even subtract from Batman’s origin story to which he gave what I thought was a nice and interesting answer.
If you have bought the Blu Ray version of the movie (or if this is on the DVD version) I really suggest comic fans check it out. Even with Didio hogging a lot of the time and sneaking in assurances that everything is fine, it is worth the 40-or-so minutes that it takes to watch the entire thing. Other special features people may want to check out is the sneak peak for next year’s “Justice League: Doom” and the first chapter of “Dark Knight Returns” if you never got to read it.