Sunday, April 7, 2013

Bruce Timm Steps Down at Warner Bros. Animation

Bruce Timm, perhaps the first and last name in animated superheroes, is stepping down from his position as a supervising producer at Warner Bros. Animation.  It's important to note that he hasn't been fired, nor is he leaving the company at this time. As of now, he is simply handing over his responsibilities to  longtime collaborator James Tucker so that he can pursue his own projects.

Bruce Timm is best known for creating the DC Animated Universe ("DCAU" or "the Timmverse") that began with Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, and then later included Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.  I think it is fair to say that when you have an entire fictional universe named after you, you have done something right with your career.  

For a generation, the works of Bruce Timm have been the face of some of the oldest and most beloved superheroes.  Batman: TAS continues to be not only one of my personal favorite animated shows, but also a defining entry in the look and mythology of the character.  Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill will forever be Batman and the Joker and, like her or not, Harley Quinn is here to stay.  While contemporary series done by Marvel were jerky looking and overly arc-heavy, the DCAU combined modern yet timeless animation with stories that created a universe that didn't feel overly burdensome to understand.

Even though Justice League Unlimited wrapped up the story of the DCAU, Timm has also supervised the highly successful line of standalone DVD titles featuring a myriad of DC heroes both famous and obscure.  He hasn't done much in TV lately, and it shows with Cartoon Network cancelling its current DC lineup in favor of a reworked version of Teen Titans and a radical new approach to the Dark Knight called Beware the Batman.  Young Justice got the ax after just two seasons, and despite Timm's supervision, the CGI Green Lantern never managed to pick up traction.  

While not intentional, I think that the DCAU may have set the bar too high, and new projects are struggling to compete with that level of quality.  The competition between DC and Marvel is as heated as ever, and DC is struggling to maintain its hold on having better animated programs.  I would be slightly interested to see Bruce Timm be given the opportunity to work on the live-action DC movies that are attempting to outdo The Avengers.  Like Joss Whedon, Timm brings a level of humor and humanity to superheroes and is capable of making them awesome, but believable and relatable; a tough trick for characters who have the power of gods and brandish their knickers on the outside.

In all likelihood though, Timm will pursue some other animated projects of his own.  He's done comics for so long, I would kind of like to see him try his hand at some other sort of project though.  With his sense of design and art style, I would love to see what he could do with a more traditional comedy cartoon.  Regardless of what happens next, I remain optimistic for the future.  Warner Bros. Animation is in good hands with James Tucker, and I anxiously await whatever Bruce Timm has up his sleeve next.  I wouldn't even mind waiting for a while.  He's earned a bit of a break.

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't heard about this development. BT has certainly contributed greatly to DC over his career and I, too, would like to see his input on some of the live-action stuff (Nolan's Batman is great but it doesn't feel like DC to me, that's probably blasphemous to say here; I don't think the state of the Superman movies--nor Green Lantern--needs to be discussed; there is a JLA movie in the works, no?). In any case, what a career! If folks have never watched the behind the scenes material or commentary to the episodes on the B:TAS DVDs, check them out, the back and forth between Timm, Radomsky, Burnett, et al. is GOLD.