Bruce Timm Meets The
Ground-breaking animation legend Bruce Timm heads an impressive
cast and crew as producer of "Wonder Woman," the
next entry in the popular series of DC Universe animated original
PG-13 movies due from Warner
has set foot on Paradise Island...
or the San Diego Convention Center...
Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation on March 3,
2009. Warner Home Video will distribute the all-new film,
which will also be available OnDemand and Pay-Per-View as
well as available for download day and date, March 3, 2009.
Fans in the
greater Gotham area will have a chance to see the premiere
of "Wonder Woman" at New York ComicCon on Friday,
February 6 in the IGN Theatre at The Javits Center. Timm
will lead the post-premiere panel and also be available
for autographs during a midday signing session on Saturday,
Timm is the
creative force behind many of Warner Bros. Animation's greatest
modern-day successes, driving DC Comics' most recognized
super heroes to new heights of popularity as the focal point
of television series and made-for-DVD films. Timm's current
mission has been as producer of the DC Universe animated
original movies, and the first three – "Superman
League: The New Frontier" and "Batman
Gotham Knight" – have met with both critical
raves and consumer success.
Emmy Award winner stole a few moments from his work on the
next DC Universe film to discuss the evolution of the made-for-DVD
movies, Lauren Montgomery's rise to stardom, his 20-year
working collaboration with Andrea Romano, and Wonder Woman's
Miereanu: What progression have you seen
through the first four films in the DC Universe animated
original movies series?
Timm: The thing I like most about this whole ongoing
project is that each of these movies really does have a
different, unique feel. It would have been very, very easy
and frankly a lot simpler and cost effective to stay in
that TV series design style and world view. But each of
these movies really does have a unique feel – in the
design, the score, the cast, even the title sequences. We've
been able to expand creatively and that makes these productions
You're known for revolutionizing the animated look of
DC characters in several landmark TV series. What was the
thought process behind the character design in this film?
We didn't want to do anything that even remotely looked
like what we have done with Wonder Woman on Justice League.
She presents a challenge because she needs to be drop-dead
gorgeous, but also very, very strong both physically and
emotionally. She's a powerful presence and we had to find
that balance between athleticism and glamour.
really took the lead on the design of Wonder Woman herself,
and I think she came up with a very unique approach. It's
not like anything you've seen from the comics, though we
did look at a lot of the comics for inspiration. We liked
the George Perez version and Adam Hughes' version, and all
points in between. But there are a lot of the things that
Adam and George brought to the character that were so specific
and detail-oriented that they wouldn't necessarily translate
We wanted to
keep the number of lines down to a minimum – to create
a relatively simple and straight-forward design. It was
quite a challenge, but I think the design Lauren came up
with is exactly what it needs to be.
Miereanu: Were there any specific
design elements you wanted to include?
A character like Wonder Woman is so iconic and yet, over
the course of her history, there have been lots of subtle
changes. We couldn't stray too far from the comic book look,
but you do have a certain amount of leeway in terms of how
you interpret those elements for animation.
It sounds really
insignificant, but one of the things that we specifically
liked about Adam Hughes' most recent take on Wonder Woman
was that he gave her kind of baggy boots – instead
of those super tight go-go boot-type things. They kind of
flare out at the bottom and they're flats, not heels. That
made her more athletic – it kind of planted her and
gave her a solidity that we really liked. It's a minor change,
but it had an effect on her design.
Miereanu: What sets Wonder Woman
apart from the first three DCU films and prior incarnations
of the character?
One of the things that really intrigued us the most about
the whole Wonder Woman mythology is the actual mythology
of it. Her character has distinct roots in classic Greek
mythology, so we really played that up. The movie actually
starts with a fairly long, epic battle that takes place
in ancient times. It's swords and sorcery, die-hard Amazon
warriors versus monsters and barbarians.
We worked hard
to establish the character design, the costume details,
the weaponry design and the background styling and I think,
within the first 30 seconds of watching the movie, you're
going to think, "Wow, this doesn't look anything like
we've done before." It's noticeably a quantum leap
away from the first three movies.
Beyond the mythology,
Wonder Woman gets to play with several dichotomies. It's
Amazon culture versus man's world; ancient mythological
times versus the contemporary world; and, of course, all
the male and female issues. All of those conflict themes
run throughout the entire movie – in the script and
visually – and I think it all comes together and gels
unlike anything we've ever done.
How did Lauren Montgomery earn the opportunity to sit
in the director's chair?
is one of the fastest rising artists I've ever worked with.
When we first started working with her on Justice League,
she really hit the ground running. She was still relatively
inexperienced – she'd only had a couple of jobs in
animation at that point – and even today I seem to
forget that she's actually still quite young. But on Justice
League, we could see she had a lot of potential and her
stuff was really good. Every time she would turn in a new
storyboard, we'd be like, "Wow, who did this? This
is really good." And every month, she just kept topping
She was really
paying attention and obviously on this really fast-tracked
learning curve – she was teaching herself, absorbing
everything around her. She was this sponge, sucking up all
of our perspectives and developing her own unique sensibilities.
Within a really short period of time, she became our best
storyboard artist. Those are the people we recruit to become
What does Lauren Montgomery bring specifically to Wonder
from a purely practical standpoint, having her as a director
means that I don't have to worry about things. I know she's
looking at the storyboards – and I know she's going
to catch all the little things and fix them. If a storyboard
isn't up to speed with the caliber of the rest of the film,
she's going to stay late and re-draw it herself –
and plus it and to make it a thousand times better.
where no Wonder Woman DVD has before...
She's smart and
very detail-oriented, and very well-rounded in terms of
her areas of expertise. That was important on this film.
Some directors are really, really good at directing action,
but they don't really care so much about the drama, other
directors are the exact opposite. Lauren is excellent at
both. She knows how to push the envelope on an action scene,
and she's probably the best director of acting that I've
ever work with. She's the complete package.
Can you give an example of Lauren Montgomery's expertise
in directing animation "acting"?
We rely on our storyboard artists to really inject acting
into the storyboard drawings as a key for the overseas animators.
We're blessed with really, really excellent vocal performances
on these films, but you need a very good storyboard artist
to act out the character's motions and emotions in simple
There's a short
sequence in Superman Doomsday where, after Superman has
died, Lois Lane goes to meet Martha Kent for the first time.
It's a very simple, subtle scene – just two women
meeting and commiserating with each other over the loss
of Superman. It's shot very simply with two-shots and close-ups.
The thing that makes this scene so powerful is the very
clear emotion on the character's faces, and that was the
sequence Lauren storyboarded.
When you look
at it on the screen, it's as though we got really good actresses
giving performances charged with emotion in their specific
facial expressions and body language. Ultimately, it was
Lauren's storyboard and direction that really brought that
scene to life.
Miereanu: Can you define the greatness
that is Andrea Romano?
What can I say about Andrea that I haven't said a zillion
times before? She's brilliant. It's actually tough for me
to even compare because I've been blessed with Andrea on
every single project that I've done as a producer since
She knows me
so well that half the time I don't even have to give notes
during a recording because she's already anticipated what
I'm going to say. And if do have to say something, I barely
get half the sentence out before she finishes the sentence
The main aspect
of Andrea's job is that she needs to get performances out
of the actors that the producers and directors want. It
has to fit our vision of the scene and the film. As dialogue
is written on the page, you could have 30 different line
readings of any individual line – it really depends
on what else is happening in the scene or the intent of
that specific line of dialogue.
But Andrea has
an obvious natural instinct for the meaning of the line.
Most importantly, she knows how to translate that information
into actor-ese to get that performance. She can put our
thoughts into words so that the actors can understand where
she's coming from and what's needed for the scene. Simply
put, she's great.
Andrea Romano's resume speaks for itself. Does she have
a virtue we don't normally hear about?
I'll tell you this – one of the things I love about
Andrea is that she's fast. She just cuts right to the chase,
never goes down blind alleys, and she physically talks fast.
It's funny because when I first started working with her,
I didn't think I was going to be able to keep up. She's
just so full of energy, it's like she must've been main
lining Red Bull before every session. But that's great for
me, because I'm very ADD myself. She doesn't equivocate,
she's just right to the point – attack, attack, attack,
get it done. For me, that's perfect.