It's been a major change for the character, and for the title. Here, Snyder and Capullo discuss how the storyline came about, and the philosophy behind their popular tenure on the book.
What was the pitch like for “Jim Gordon takes over as Batman”? Where did the idea come from, and Greg, what was your reaction when you heard it?
SCOTT SNYDER: It occurred to me in the summer, when we were about to really get going with “Endgame.” I realized that, if “Endgame” went the way I wanted it to, there’d be an opportunity for Bruce [Wayne] to really be off the table for a while, and ‘who would step into that role?’ became a big question for me.
[Gordon] became the immediate answer. It was almost like a story where, if Batman “dies” and Bruce Wayne comes back free of the Batman, then Batman should also be a human – somebody deeply mortal, struggling to live up to this legend. Jim spoke to me immediately, because he’s a character who’s always put his faith in systems that are human systems put in place to protect us – police, local government and so on. So it all kind of came together.
The way the pitch went, Greg is always the first person I pitch to. So I called him up, and I remember – I think I called you. We weren’t together.
GREG CAPULLO: Yeah, I think you’re right.
SNYDER: And I told him, you might hate this. You might be like, “This is the dumbest idea. I quit.’”
CAPULLO: I thought it was awesome! Especially seeing how much I love Jim Gordon! I
I remember the moment. Scotty called me up and, you know, he’s on the fence about it. And I go, “No, it’s great!” I love Jim Gordon as a character. I love drawing him as a character, and when [Scott] said we can make him Batman I just said, wow, that’s like mixing two of my favorite things together in one drink. So I was all for it!
In terms of visuals….seeing Jim Gordon as Batman is obviously very different. But it’s also been interesting how Bruce Wayne has changed without any memory of his life as Batman. How did you approach that from a design standpoint?
CAPULLO: Well, Scott always has some visual ideas – he’s the one who wanted Bruce to have a beard –
SNYDER: I guess the most embarrassing thing, I get so neurotic about “you know what I mean, right? You know what I mean?” …and I sent Greg a picture of a beard. [LAUGHTER] You know: “A beard…kinda like this?” And he’s like, “Yeah. It’s a beard.”
CAPULLO: So some of the other things – obviously Gordon had to be more bulked up, but a man of his years, he’s never going to have a physique like Bruce Wayne. And when I move Bruce Wayne the character around, I try to make it just a little less imposing. More relaxed. You see him, he’s just a little bit more relaxed in his stature. It’s a subtle thing, maybe nobody even sees it, but I’m conscious about it. And Gordon, I gave him a lean, tapered, boxer’s body, and tried to emulate his sort of slender frame with the [robot battlesuit]. Obviously, it’s big, but it’s more length. It’s more slender to emulate that.
It’s just little, conscious-subconscious decisions that you hope the fans, even if they don’t consciously recognize them, it seeps in and they appreciate it on a different level.
SNYDER: He makes it so real. My idea for Gordon was even bulkier, but when I saw what [Greg] was thinking, I knew that’s exactly what he would really look like. That is what a man of his age, training to be Batman in this period of time – that is how he would move. How he would hold himself. How his face would look.
That’s the thing, I mean, he’s capable of making any crazy idea real. A lot of comic artists, I think, can make them believable. But he makes them real. Because of the fine work that goes into the acting, into the detail, the posturing, all of it. It becomes three-dimensional to me in a way that it doesn’t for many other artists that I love.
Batman is thought to have the best “Rogues Gallery” in all of comics. During your run, you’ve added new pieces to that – the Court of Owls, now Mr. Bloom. Is that something you consciously avoided, leaning too hard on the classic villains?
SNYDER: It really comes down to each arc, and trying to decide what it’s about. With an arc like the Jim Gordon arc, I know I want to create a new villain for it because the city changes itself to become his antagonist. That means it’s not going to bring back those villains, as you said. It’s going to bring something to life that’s terrifying in a way that speaks to his nightmares.
When we’re doing a Bruce story, if I want to get at something where I want to say “this story is about why Bruce should matter to my kids,” I’m going to bring out the villain who’ll say the most loudly, “You mean nothing.” And that’s Joker. The key is always making sure the stories have something new to say about the character – have something personal to say about the character – and making the decisions about what villains you’re going to use, or how to construct the villains, based on what the entire thing is aiming for psychologically.
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