James Tucker on Creating a Wholly Original Batman for Batman Beyond

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James Tucker is a name you’ll see on pretty much every DC animated movie over the past 10 years. But, his roots with the animated Bat go back more than 20.

“Wonder Woman: Bloodlines” premiere press image from WB Home Entertainment, NY Comic Con 2019

Tucker acts mostly as a producer in the new DC animated features , while his earlier work was director and storyboard artist on New Batman Adventures (’97-’99) and subsequently, Batman Beyond (’99-’01).

Official Press image from WB Home Entertainment, Batman Beyond 20th Blu-Ray at NY Comic Con 2019

Covering DC Animation for C506 at NY Comic Con 2019, I interviewed Tucker for the Batman Beyond 20th Blu-Ray celebrationBeyond cast/crew met with the press for roundtable interviews, including Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman.

Here’s what Tucker had to say about the longevity of Batman Beyond over 2 decades later: 

Third party press: There have been a lot of Batman shows that have come and gone in the past 20 years, yet Batman Beyond is still a stand out amongst a lot of fans. Why do you think that Batman Beyond has endured so much inside of the–not only just the comic book community–but, also with general fans all across the world?

James Tucker: Well, I think it’s because it’s a uniquely–it’s specific to that generation; meaning, the only ties it has is to BTAS (Batman: The Animated Series). And, even then we were careful not to make every episode refer to something that  happened before. For us, this was our Batman show: everything in it didn’t owe anything to the comics that existed, we weren’t adapting. You know, it was our Batman; from scratch, that had no comic book relation.

James Tucker,  press roundtable, NY Comic Con 2019

JT (continued): I think fans of that think that way too. They feel like, Wow this is a Batman made for us, if you were whatever age at that time. If you were a kid at that time, you didn’t have to have seen all the other Batman stuff to know what was going on. It wasn’t re-treading Crime Alley; it wasn’t saying, this is the first Joker story. It was its own thing.

Batman Beyond panel 20th panel, NY Comic Con 2019; Left to right: Kevin Conroy (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Will Friedle (Terry McGinnis/Batman), Andrea Romano (Voice/Casting Director), Alan Burnett (Writer/producer), James Tucker (Director/Storyboard Artist), Lauren Tom (Dana Tan)

JT (continued): There’s not really been anything  since then that’s been like that. Every Batman show since then has kind of gone back to referring to the original source material. So, I think it’s just unique in its own right. It stands alone in its own pocket universe of Batman.

For a character of more than 80 years, saying that you got to work an a wholly original Batman is saying a lot. It’s clear that the Blu-Ray isn’t the only reason fans wanted to see Tucker and the crew assemble for Beyond’s 20th. Longevity is a quality of pop-culture rarely achieved. Then, consider the pressure of creating something “from scratch” within the modern myth of comic and animated Batman as well. Over 2 decades later, one thing is for sure: we indeed owe the series’ longevity, in large part, to brilliant creators like Tucker.

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