If there is one name in comics that most fans revere, it is Paul Dini. Mr. Dini has been a driving force of comics and animation for over 20 years, working on such classic animated shows as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and Tiny Toon Adventures.
His biggest claim to fame, however, is in the DC Animated Universe, predominantly with Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond and Superman: The Animated Series. Mr. Dini is also responsible for the creation of Harley Quinn, a once promising psychiatrist who turned to crime as The Joker’s sidekick and on-again/off-again girlfriend. Her origin was told in the graphic novel Batman: Mad Love, written by Dini and drawn by Bruce Timm, and went on to win an Eisner Award and later adapted in The New Batman Adventures episode of the same name.
Dini recently appeared on the podcast Shanlian on Batman to discuss a variety of topics regarding the DC universe and his extensive career. When asked what he thought of Suicide Squad, Dini stated “What I really loved about Suicide Squad is you saw little vignettes that spoke to the heart of DC Comics and DC Comics fans, like The Flash taking down Boomerang or the stuff with Batman and Deadshot or Batman and Harley on the car. That’s great stuff and doesn’t have the whole gravitas of an origin story or a subplot or romance. You can just get right to the meat of it and that’s what I really loved about Suicide Squad. You got such a flavour of the DC universe and judging by what the audience thought, they’re right with that.”
The conversation eventually turned to Harley Quinn and Margot Robbie’s arguably scene stealing performance. Since this was Dini’s creation and the first time she’d ever been brought to film he was very interested in how she’d be handled, but thought Robbie and David Ayer did a great job bringing her to life. “I thought Margot did a really terrific job and I loved all the nods to her origin such as the elements of Mad Love that were alluded to in the therapy session with her and The Joker, some of their relationship and of course the brief flash of her in the Bruce Timm costume as interpreted by Alex Ross in the dance sequence they did. I felt she had a really good sense of humour about capturing the character and there are moments where you see her mind is always working. She really captured the kinetic energy of the character. If anything, it proved to me that character has enough to support her own movie.”
Of course, one of the criticisms Suicide Squad has received is that it did not devote much time to the full extent of Harley and Joker’s toxic relationship, elements which have since been revealed to have been cut from the movie. This, however, didn’t bother Dini; “If this is the first time that a movie audience sees Joker and Harley, let’s give them a place to go from. I certainly didn’t mind that he seemed to love her and came after her, that he had this passion for her. I feel like let’s not do the whole Joker and Harley relationship in one movie. Let’s show them have a ‘happy ending’ and go from there with the next movie by bringing in the idea he’s not the world’s greatest boyfriend and it sours and she gets away from him.”
He was also asked about his thoughts on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and his overall impression of the superhero film genre and while he has enjoyed most of these films, he seems to think they’re becoming a bit formulaic and letting some aspects slide. “I enjoyed parts of it. I thought Ben Affleck makes a great Batman. I feel like a lot of these superhero movies have to be such epics that little things fall by the wayside and that’s a statement I can make pretty much about every superhero movie I’ve seen so far this year. They have so many characters to service that some of the details get lost.”
Dini goes into much further detail over many of his other works, including the creation of Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker, his role in the upcoming Batman: Arkham VR game and his recently released graphic novel Dark Knight: A True Batman Story. This graphic novel, illustrated by 100 Bullets artist Eduardo Risso, is an autobiographical tale about how Dini was mugged and beaten when he worked on Batman: The Animated Series and the methods he took to cope with the trauma. It is a very insightful roundtable conversation and you can have a listen to the full podcast on Soundcloud or iTunes here.