Originally announced back in May of 2021, it’s been a long road for the animated series Batman: Caped Crusader to make its way to TV. And while we still don’t have a premiere date, when writer Ed Brubaker — who was head writer on the first season of the series — visited Comic Book Club’s live show, he teased some intriguing details about the series… Including that this is not just Batman: The Animated Series Returns.
“It’s definitely a different take that I hope people will love,” Brubaker teased, “but I think people will also be shocked.”
If you’re not familiar with Caped Crusader, the show is bringing back Bruce Timm, one of the co-creators of the iconic Batman: TAS, alongside J.J. Abrams and The Batman director Matt Reeves. Brubaker was announced as head writer in 2022, though as he tells it his role writing on the series was done “about a year and a half ago.”
Then in a shocking twist, the highly anticipated show was seemingly abruptly killed at HBO Max (now Max) in August of 2022. “Up until the day that they canceled the show off of Max, they were telling us it was going to be on HBO Max, and there was 100%, no chance that we were not going to get on,” Brubaker said. “And then one day, they called us up and they were like, ‘so David Zaslav canceled the show. But we’re not going to stop production. We’re just going to sell it somewhere else.’ And then we sold it to Amazon like a week later.”
Fans had to wait a little longer to find out the show was saved, as the news was officially announced in March of this year. And not only did Amazon pick up the series, they did so for two seasons.
Though Brubaker was unable to come back for the show’s second season, partly because of the WGA strike, and also because he’s working on movie and TV shows as part of his overall Amazon deal, he’s still doing some “post-writing stuff” on Season 1, and “seeing early cuts of episodes now.”
But as Brubaker tells it, he sort of accidentally became head writer in the first place. He certainly knows his way around Gotham City from his time writing Batman, revitalizing Catwoman, and a much-beloved run on Gotham Central, all for DC Comics. His love started, though, with Batman: The Animated Series, and two episodes in particular that he calls “the best Batman things ever.” Specifically: Season 3, Episode 12, “Over The Edge”; and Season 1, Episode 3 “Nothing to Fear.”
“When [Caped Crusader] got announced, I had somehow assumed that they would have already done a whole writers room or whatever they did,” Brubaker said. “And I reached out to Bruce Timm and asked if I could freelance an episode because it was a bucket list thing… If they’re going to make more Batman: The Animated Series, or more Bruce Timm Batman, I gotta see if I can do one. And then Bruce was like, ‘Well, how about, you come on and be the showrunner, head writer?'”
Though Brubaker was pleasantly stunned by this turn of events, he called the experience “super fun.” He was able to bring on his “best friend” Halley Gross, who he worked with on Westworld to be in the writers’ room and write two episodes. And exciting news for comic book fans, Brubaker revealed that he got two stalwarts to freelance for the show: Marc Bernardin, and Greg Rucka. Not only that, Rucka wrote the season’s second episode, “the first Renee Montoya episode,” a key character from Gotham Central, which Rucka co-wrote with Brubaker.
To get back to the original point, though, Brubaker wanted to “warn” fans of Batman: The Animated Series that this is “very much a reconception… of starting over.” He also said that the show is “PG… When we first started we were told we could do PG-13. Which, I was like, oh my god, is someone gonna say s**t in a Batman cartoon? But it’s not PG-13.”
Brubaker clarified that “it’s the show Bruce Timm always wanted to make, but that they wouldn’t let him make,” which means that they’re actually able to punch people on camera. “I won’t spoil it for you guys, but… Everyone will kill me if I say it, but it’s kind of Noir.”
Brubaker’s latest graphic novel with artist Sean Phillips, Where The Body Was from Image Comics, hits comic stores on December 13, 2023.
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