James Tucker Interview, redefining Batman for Batman Beyond

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There are certain names of WB Animation, figures from the credits of TV and movies that have imbedded themselves into the subconscious of  DC animated junkies like me.

Names like ‘James Tucker.’

In addition to today’s topic of the now 21 year old Batman Beyond (Terry can drink!), Tucker’s name has come after ‘Director,’ ‘Producer,’ or ‘Executive Producer’ in nearly everything DC animated since Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and Beyond. All this includes the acclaimed body of animated films from DC/WB as well, not just Saturday morning TV.

James Tucker at San Diego Comic Con; Photo: IMDB.com

My interview with James Tucker was at NY Comic Con 2019, 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 Tucker. As I’ve been saying in all of my interview pieces from the event: “Thanks to C506, I had press passes to NYCC this year, which then got a Batman Beyond podcaster into a Batman Beyond press event. Dangerous territory.”

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

From my press roundtable interview with James Tucker at NY Comic Con 2019:

Third Party Press: With Batman Beyond, this was a completely new Batman. You invented a new character. What was the challenge for you to bring the Batman feel to this new incarnation, your new creation?

James Tucker: The thing was, it was redefining what the Batman ‘feel’ is. Because, it wasn’t the cape, you know, everything had to be reimagined and stripped away. So, he didn’t have a cape: he had glider wings. His batmobile was totally different. The suit wasn’t a capes and trunk. It was a weird suit. Thing is, we had the design for the suit early on, because Bruce [Timm], when he came back to tell us we were doing this, and the show we were working on was basically cancelled, he had the logo all ready. He said, ‘This is the logo. And, I think this could work.’

James Tucker at NY Comic Con 2019; Photo: @batmanbeyondpodcast

JT (continued): Because, at first, we heard we weren’t doing traditional Batman anymore, and they want us to do a future Batman. And, just hearing it sounded like a really bad idea. So, for a few days, we were bummed. We had really gotten on a roll with Batman, traditional Batman, and it almost felt like being told that what we had been doing wasn’t good enough and that we were having to make up some new thing just to sell some toys. Which, indeed is what they wanted. But, then, Bruce, he was always good at taking lemons and making lemonade out of them (laughs). So, he came in, and instead of saying, ‘Hell no,’ which we weren’t in a position to say ‘no,’ they were our bosses. So, he said, ‘let’s figure this out.’

JT (continued): And, once he got them away from wanting a future Bruce Wayne–meaning a young Bruce Wayne in the future being Batman, which would’ve invalidated Batman: The Animated Series and all the stuff we had done before that–it’s like, how about a young Batman takes over the mantle from Bruce Wayne, who’s old and can’t be Batman anymore, but he’s a mentor figure. And, that appealed to the network. And, so we had a good foundation to start from, because we had all the Bruce Wayne history from BTAS that we could refer to if we wanted to. Then, this whole new futuristic, creatively fulfilling– we could reimagine our own Batman, is basically what we had, and this whole world, and we didn’t owe anything to the comic books at all. So, it was really exciting creatively.

From L – R: Bob Goodman, James Tucker, Stan Berkowitz, Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, Andrea Romano, Glenn Murakami; San Diego Comic Con 2019 ‘Batman Beyond’ panel; Photo: ComicsBeat.com

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 Tucker, I interviewed additional cast/crew of Batman Beyond, including Kevin Conroy, Lauren Tom, Will Friedle, Andrea Romano, and Alan Burnett.

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

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Read more geekness:

Andrea Romano Interview | The Challenges of Casting a Younger Bat for Batman Beyond

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