Imagine what the DC Universe would be like if Batman were a vampire, Superman was raised by actual immigrants, and Wonder Woman was the bride of an alien god.
It sounds like fanfiction, sure -- but that’s exactly the concept behind Bruce Timm’s ”Justice League: Gods and Monsters,” which will explore all-new versions of the characters we know and love via a feature-length movie, a comic prequel and a web series on Machinima. Check out the trailer below:
Timm’s style should be very familiar to ‘90s and early ‘00s kids: he’s the mastermind behind many DC Universe cartoons like "Batman: The Animated Series," “Batman Beyond” and "Justice League,” which defined these iconic heroes for an entire generation of TV watchers. With “Gods and Monsters,” he’s trying something very new – but his inspiration, he told MTV News over the phone last week, came from an old source.
"I flashed back to the Silver Age versions of Flash and Green Lantern," Timm said, "who, when they brought them back in the mid ‘50s, they basically kept the name and the basic gimmick of the Golden Age versions of those characters but then threw everything else out. They had new origin stories, their powers worked differently, they had new costumes. They even had new alter egos. And that was really exciting and as it turned out, those are the versions of the characters that kind of stuck."
"So I kind of thought, wouldn’t it be kind of crazy if DC did exactly the same thing, but with the Big Three? You know, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. And I kind of knew they wouldn’t, because you don’t just throw out all that stuff, but it got me thinking about it -- okay, if I was going to do that, what would I do with those characters? If I wasn’t going to make them Kal El and Diana and Bruce Wayne, who would they be?"
The results are unlike anything we’ve seen in DC before. This new Superman (played by "Law and Order" alum Benjamin Bratt) is the son of General Zod, who grew up in a family of Mexican immigrants far away from Smallvile, Kansas. Rather than the billionaire Bruce Wayne, Batman ("Dexter" star Michael C. Hall) is actually Dr. Kirk Langstrom, whom Bat-fans know better as the Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hydeish Man-Bat. And Wonder Woman (Tamara Taylor from "Bones") is not an Amazon at all, but instead Bekka, the wife of Orion from the planet of New Genesis.
But the Big Three aren’t the only heroes in this universe who've been remade anew -- there’s also Mary Marvel, now a Pam Grier look-alike, and Steel, who’s sporting a stars-and-stripes motif reminiscent of Marvel’s Iron Patriot. Both aren’t exactly heavy hitters of the DC franchise, though, and Timm told us he prefers it that way.
"I don’t have anything against Flash or Aquaman or any of the other sort of marquee characters, but I always liked the more oddball characters," Timm said. "I like kind of digging deep into the lesser-known characters, which to me are some of the most intriguing characters in the DC Universe. Of course, for this show, we’ll take those characters and put an extra twist on them so they’re even weirder and quirkier than they were in the comics. So that’s been a lot of fun."
Of course, "Gods and Monsters" sure as heck doesn't pull any punches when it comes to taking these characters in some dark directions. In the first web series episode, for example, Batman uncovers a fridge full of body parts and a chainsaw-weilding serial killer (played by "the wickedly talented" Tara Strong, hint hint). But rest assured that there's a method to this new series' madness.
"'Dark' is kind of a marketing word," Timm said. "People like to throw that word out there, like, 'Oh, it’s a new dark version of the Justice League.' Technically I guess it is, compared to the stuff I’ve done before that was strictly children’s television. But it’s not necessarily that I wanted to just go dark and make everything all grim and gritty… The series in general, I definitely wanted to be a little bit more, shall we say 'adult' in tone, just because I actually have the freedom to go a little beyond what I could do on network TV."
Of course, fans of "Batman: The Animated Series" know how 'dark' things can get in even his children's shows (I, for one, still can't watch video of Mark Hamill doing the Joker laugh because it makes my whole brain start screaming in confusion and terror). "We were always kind of pushing the envelope a little bit in terms of how kid-appropriate the story is, actually. Now we don’t have to worry about that quite so much," Timm said. "Now we have to worry about the opposite end! It’s kind of like, okay, now I want to make sure I don’t go too far just for my own sake... I’m just gonna try to thread that needle."
The first episode of the "Justice League: Gods and Monsters" web series comes out today. Watch it below!