It’s been over 20 years since Bruce Timm hopped from Tiny Toon Adventures to the Batman animated series sowed the seeds for what has become the DC Animated Universe. Timm became the supervising producer at Warner Bros. Animation, shepherding all of their projects up to and including the two-part Dark Knight Returns.
As first reported by Voices From Krypton, Timm has now stepped down from his role as producer and has been replaced by James Tucker, producer of Justice League, Legion of Super Heroes and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, most recently director of Superman Unbound.
Tucker has spoken about his plans for Warner Bros. animation, and in quite some depth. Here are a couple of key quotes:
I’d love to use more of a variety of characters, but that’s something I don’t have control over. Granted Dark Knight Returns was long overdue to be adapted and I’m glad they did it and did it superbly. But beyond that, I’m not really interested in replicating, image by image, word for word, something that was in a comic book, because you can’t replicate that experience or feeling. You’re basically getting a secondary experience, so you have to make it your own in order to make it work as a movie…
Our challenge is that people want us to do these other characters, but if they don’t sell that threatens the whole line. So the way to do it is to be smart. If we know we’re going to use Superman, Batman and the Justice League, how do we use them as gateways to these other characters? If Batman, Superman and Justice League bring in the average person who’s not a comic book fan, once you have them you insert a Huntress or a secondary character like Oracle as a means of introducing them to more of the world. But you’re not going to be able to do an Oracle movie.
As you can see, Tucker is very clear about where this particular series of animated movies needs to be headed.
Much fuzzier, meanwhile, is just what Timm will be doing next.
The original report simply says that Timm has “some of his own projects.” I’ll come clean – this is what I mean by secret in the headline. It’s shorthand for “we don’t know what they are,” not that “they’re buried in a secret vault guarded by dragons, drawing attention to their own sense of mystery.”
I would like to think that Timm has had a job offer from some quarter or another and has gone off to work on a project that we’ll be hearing about soon. Fanwishery is pouring all over social media with various friends in my Twitter feed indulging in Pixar fantasies, some others mentioning Marvel. Nobody has specifically mentioned Disney’s Big Hero 6, which is set for release late next year, but that seems as good a particular match as anything out there, I think. Does Don Hall want a co-director?
UPDATE: Or maybe he’s just taking a reduced role at Warner Bros. animation. Widespread commentary has suggested he isn’t… comments from inside the studio say he is. That’s a shame. He’s a good Captain. Many a ship could use his navigational skills.
Good luck, Mr. Timm. And good luck, Mr. Tucker. Fingers crossed for an invisible transition and a strong future for your series.