by R.C. Samo
The legendary Mike Carlin (yes, the man who killed Superman), former DC Entertainment editor and one of the developers for all animated features for DC Entertainment/Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, answered Five Question for FanboyNation.
1. You are infamous for having killed Superman 20 years. Do you feel that dropping that one pebble in the pond caused the ripple effect that lead us to Flashpoint and the eventual reboot of the DC Universe?
Mike Carlin (MC): Not really sure I see a connection between the “Death of Superman” and “Flashpoint” or the New 52. If anything I’d say CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS was a much more spiritual example… when a few DC series were rebooted following that harrowing adventure. And every 25 years or so it’s cool to do the modern version of a story…
2. The DC Universe has had tremendous success with taking beloved stories and turning them into animated features. What are the challenges in taking a one-shot or six or 12 issue story arc and expanding or limiting them to 88 minutes?
MC: I think the challenges are different in each of those cases, and at the same time pretty obvious. Turning a one shot into a feature-length film means there will need to be scenes and perhaps complete storylines added– hopefully to compliment or contrast the main story being adapted. A six issue story seems to be the right length for the feature length of 80 to 90 minutes. And a 12 issue arc would be too long to fit into one film… So the challenges become about what to cut, what to focus on and what new “muscle” must be added to help hold the “bones” that are left together.
That said, not every film is a direct adaptation… Sometimes a film is merely inspired by something from a comic. Sometimes the whole adventure is new. We’ve recently done several direct adaptations and will probably pepper in a few originals as the upcoming slate plays out– and some that are clearly inspired by the comics but not literal adaptations (like BATMAN: YEAR ONE and the two DARK KNIGHT RETURNS films were).
3. We mentioned the ripple effect of Death of Superman leading to Flashpoint. In a similar sense, with this story we see The Flash (Barry Allen) thrust into an alternate reality where his mother is still alive. However, that one event has changed the whole course of earth’s history. How were you able to toy with the spectrum of emotions from selfishness In having ones loved one return to them all the way to being ethically and morally just for the rest of world?
MC: It’s Barry Allen’s core conflict in this story– and the emotion he struggles to come to grips with. It’s also what makes him a hero… many of us are more inclined to stay selfish and keep the things we love close. The Flash has to ultimately own a very tough truth about himself and his mother’s death in this story.
4. The Batman of this world (Thomas Wayne) has no problem killing, especially after the loss of son. In their realities Bruce was 8 years old when he made his oath for justice, while Thomas was in his 30s when he took his for vengeance. What is the difference in mind set between losing a parent and burying a child, especially in Gotham City?
MC: Sometimes in showing how similar events shape different characters, regardless of age, its ends up showing how strong DC’s original characters can be. The Batman of the Flashpoint World has actually lost more than just his son– and he handles that loss the way only Thomas Wayne would handle that tragedy. Thomas Wayne crosses lines because he’s not as strong a person deep down as the Bruce Wayne-Batman is. This is emphasized and made clear because the Batman we all know doesn’t cross those lines, even after suffering as great a loss– or greater loss depending on which reader/viewer you ask.
5. In the graphic novel, Flashpoint was the finally story in the previous incarnation of the DC Universe; will The Flashpoint Paradox be the final story told of the pre-52 era or will the 75 plus years of DC Comics still lend to new animated features?
MC: That remains to be seen… We hate spoiling future adventures (whether in the comics or on the screen)!
Bonus “Fanboy” Question: If stories will still be pulled from the pre-52 era, will Captain Marvel retain his original name or will he be referred to as Shazam! in all future projects regarding the character outside the comics?
MC: I believe Shazam is here to stay no matter which side of the Flashpoint event we derive inspiration, R.C.