Alan Burnett Interview: Going against the network on Batman Beyond

On the Mount Rushmore of DCAU (DC Animated Universe) founders, ya got Bruce Timm, of course; Paul Dini, Alan Burnett–and, we’ll stop at three rock face presidents to avoid controversy.

Alan Burnett, Writer/Producer of ‘Batman Beyond’

Alan Burnett was a head writer/producer of the DCAU very early on, first on 1992’s Batman: The Animated Series, then New Batman Adventures, and eventually a newer, younger Bat of the future, Batman Beyond. Understandably, by the time they got to Beyond in ’99, Burnett and the animated Bat crew were a bit set in their ways–in the best of ways.

WB Home Entertainment’s official NYCC 2019 press release art for Batman Beyond’s 20th celebration

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and interviewing Mr. Alan Burnett at NY Comic Con 2019. The interview was for the Batman Beyond 20th celebration and Blu-Ray box set release. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment organized a 20th panel at Con, as well as press roundtable access to Beyond cast and crew like Burnett. I recorded the interview for my Above and Batman Beyond podcast, and our YouTube channel of the same name.

Alan Burnett, from the Batman Beyond 20th press roundtable at NY Comic Con 2019

From my roundtable interview with Batman Beyond writer/producer, Alan Burnett:

Third Party Press: Did you expect Batman Beyond to continue having this much of an impact and reverence this many years later?

Alan Burnett: We took kind of a chance on it, because the network wanted to do a young Batman; and, for a few minutes, we talked about doing young Bruce Wayne. Then, we decided, no, that wasn’t not going to work, and the idea of Bruce Wayne being older and having this protege suddenly got our attention.

Alan Burnett, from the Batman Beyond 20th panel at NY Comic Con 2019

AB (continued): But, we were careful with it, because we knew we had a legacy to come up to. So, I didn’t know quite what the reaction was going to be. But, in-house, where we were working, it felt good, it felt right, so I was happy when the fanboys and everybody liked the series. And, now it has a bit of a life on its own now: comic books and the character still continues.

TPR: It was kind of a gamble, though, wasn’t it?

AB: It was a gamble. The network wanted to do a young show, a young Batman show, because they wanted to get the 6-11 year old audience (laughs). The older Batman show had not gotten that audience. It was a show that got 14 year old. So, they said, let’s do a young Batman show. Then we’ll get the audience. 

Cast and crew of Batman Beyond 20 years later at NY Comic Con 2019; Left to right: James Tucker, Kevin Conroy, Andrea Romano, Will Friedle, Lauren Tom, Alan Burnett

AB (continued): But, it was the same crew [as BTAS/New Batman Adventures], and strangely, in the future, with a kid, the show got kind of darker. The crew that was working on it, we all had the feel for Batman, and we couldn’t just do a 6-11 year old show. It was impossible. And, I learned something from that. I learned that if you want a big change, you get all new people. Because, the other people, their mind is set toward what they’ve done before, and it was good what we did, but that’s why it was only 52 episodes. They thought, in the end, we’re not getting our 6-11 year old audience. So, that was it.

Stay tuned here at C506 as well as my  Above and Batman Beyond podcast/YouTube channel for more live coverage of NY Comic Con. Again, beside Burnett, I interviewed additional cast/crew of Batman Beyond, including Kevin Conroy, Lauren Tom, Will Friedle, Andrea Romano, and James Tucker.

Follow us on Instagram @batmanbeyondpodcast. Pod available on iTunes, the Anchor app, and many more pod places.

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