The New Frontier
An Interview with Bruce Timm at WonderCon
an hour, The
New Frontier would get its world premiere in front of
thousands of fans sitting anxiously in Hall A at WonderCon.
Right now, Executive Producer Bruce Timm sits at ease in what
someone called DC's "Green Room" -- a huge space
with a few circular tables. Earlier, Bruce had snagged a water
bottle from my table but promised to come back and talk.
run to get it!
here we are. Clearly more at ease than he was before the
Comic-Con premiere of Superman: Doomsday, Timm also gave
us a little bit of news about an upcoming project...
McCaw: What would be the difference between your
work on Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier?
Timm: Doomsday I was much more heavily
involved in every aspect of the production because I co-wrote
it, I produced it, I designed most of the characters and
I co-directed it. New Frontier came right on the heels of
Doomsday, and I was, frankly, wiped.
knew that New Frontier was going to be a monstrously huge
show and I was running on fumes. Fortunately, I knew that
Mike Goguen was just coming off of a season of The Batman,
and he had a bit of window of opportunity, so I asked him
if he would be interested in producing the show. He was
very excited to do it. At that point, it was easy to let
him do most of the heavy lifting.
I was mostly involved in the beginning.
I worked very closely with Stan Berkowitz in breaking down
the script, working with Andrea (Romano) in doing the casting
and doing the vocal recordings. Then at that point, I kind
of stood back and let Dave Bullock and Mike Goguen run with
it. When the film came back from overseas, I worked very
closely with Mike in the editing room and supervising the
post-production with Mike.
I was heavily involved upfront, but wanted
to let Dave and Mike do their wonderful thing.
McCaw: You were involved in the voice casting,
but is that something you normally do?
Timm: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I'm kind of a control freak
(laughs). It's actually very difficult to stand
back and delegate and let other people do things. On New
Frontier it was easy, because both Mike and Dave were
really really talented.
McCaw: What kinds of things were you looking for
in the voices?
actually very difficult to stand back..."
Timm: The tricky thing was that we wanted to find
actors that were terrific actors, and because the movie
is set in the past, we wanted to find actors that didn't
feel too contemporary, too twenty-first century. It was
a really tricky thing to do, not just in casting but in
the music and what kind of optical effects we used and everything.
We didn't want it to feel current; we wanted it to feel
period, but not old-fashioned. We didn't want it to feel
The same thing, especially with the actors.
It's an indefinable thing, trying to find somebody who feels
appropriate for the 1950's, but doesn't sound goofy. It
can't sound like you're doing a parody of old movies or
I think we were really successful with
that. The cast we got, with Kyle MacLachlan, David Boreanaz
and Brooke Shields and all of them, I thought they were
just spot on.
McCaw: Brooke Shields didn't sound like Brooke
Shields. She was Carol Ferris.
Timm: That's the idea.
McCaw: What are you proudest about accomplishing
on New Frontier?
Timm: I'm most proud that, amazingly, it retains
the feel of the comic. It was not easy to get there. When
Stan and I first worked on the script, we made some really
mad, major cuts to the storyline, which we knew we would
have to do. At one point we had gone too far, and actually
taken Wonder Woman out of the movie, and Darwyn (Cooke,
the graphic novel's creator) was the one who came back and
said come on, man, you have to have Wonder Woman in there.
We went back and forth on it, and of course he was right.
were times during the production where Darwyn would say
this is fine, this is going to make a wonderful animated
film, but it's not The New Frontier. And when he
would say that I would just go, ah, dammit.
job casting, Bruce!
Darwyn is really close to it, so it's really hard for him
to be objective, but at the same time he knows the material
better than anybody else. So when he says that, on the one
hand I want to make him happy because he's my friend, but
really, he knows the material.
I'm proudest that it's a really really good adaptation of
the comics. Certainly there are things missing where people
are going to go, "oh, why isn't that there? Why isn't that
scene there?" There are things like that I regret aren't
in the movie.
at the same time, knowing that we had less than a six-hour
mini-series to make the movie, that we only had seventy
minutes to cram that whole thing in there, it feels like
the comic book come to life in a real dynamic way. It's
not cheapened or dumbed down. I think it's a pretty excellent
animated superhero film.
Part 2, Timm gives us a glimpse into the process of Batman: