Ricky Church chats with writer Tim Sheridan about Batman: The Long Halloween…
After many years of fans clamouring for its adaptation, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One has been released on Blu-ray and digital as the next in DC and Warner Bros.’ animated film line. Based on the maxi-series from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, the story follows Batman in his earliest years of crime fighting as he, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent investigate a serial killer named Holiday who is targeting members of the Falcone crime family on one holiday each month. While they are trying to solve the case and bring down the Falcone mob, they also have to contend with the rise of Gotham City’s supervillains.
To celebrate the release of the first part to this highly anticipated film, we sat down with the film’s writer Tim Sheridan who previously wrote Reign of the Supermen and Superman: Man of Tomorrow. We spoke about The Long Halloween‘s legacy, the focus on Batman’s rookie years, the late Naya Rivera’s performance as Catwoman and more. Check out our interview below…
Ricky Church: Batman: The Long Halloween has been on the top of many people’s lists of adaptations that they wanted to see for years now. Why was now the time to make it?
Tim Sheridan: Well, because everybody wanted to finally! I think Butch Lukic [supervising producer] has talked about this. I think it was a daunting task for a lot of filmmakers. It’s an important part of the Batman and DC canon. I think it’s a thing that if you can’t do it faithfully in a way that really celebrates the book then maybe it wasn’t necessarily time to do it. One of the difficulties was, I think, just the idea of putting it into one movie was a difficult thing, which is why we came at it as something that would happen over two movies which was very helpful. That helped us keep it faithful in terms of the themes in the story as we could. Even in the case of all the pieces falling into place, Butch Lukic was ready to take it on and once he was ready to do it, they called me. Butch and I had worked together on some stuff and Jim Krieg [producer] and Butch and I sat down and started talking about it and everybody, right from day one, knew the kind of movie we wanted to make and you see it there on the screen. That’s what we want to do. We’re all fans and we wanted to make sure this was a movie that could celebrate the book.
Now you kind of addressed this in the answer there, but Long Halloween is such a beloved Batman story and its impact can still be felt. I think it’s 25 years old now?
’96 – ’97. Yeah.
Was that intimidating to adapt such a classic story like this? You addressed the difficulty of making it in one movie and you’re doing it in two.
You know, it’s always difficult. I worked on the adaptation of Reign of the Supermen and that was difficult. That was a story that played out over multiple titles and had a lot of characters and a lot of moving parts and ended up as sort of my trial by fire. That experience really prepared me for going into The Long Halloween which has arguably a ton of characters as well. It certainly gives one pause because I’m not just a writer, I’m not a guy who’s coming in and saying “Oh I got hired to write this thing. I don’t know anything about it, but I’ll just do it.” No. I mean, Reign of the Supermen was one of the first Superman books I ever bought when I was a kid and Long Halloween I was reading when it was coming out monthly and these things are, as a fan, very important to me. I just want to make sure that what I’m doing is helping to realize these things in a cinematic way, that way they can live alongside the works of art on which they’re based in the great, big, beautiful multiverse. Hopefully people watch the movie and if they liked the movie, they’ll go back and either read or reread the book and then they’ll be excited to go back and watch the movie again.
I think the opportunity that a multiverse provides us is that these things can all live happily with each other. And they sometimes have different sort of angles on certain parts because of the way you make a movie versus the way you write a comic book and draw it. Ultimately at their core, it is what Jim Krieg always used to tell me which is we try to make the movie that makes you feel the way you did when you read the stories the first time. It’s not necessarily important to do exact replica, word for word, panel for panel, as you translate. In fact, it’s impossible to do that. It’s vital that we give you the experience of what it felt like when you first read that story and hopefully we’ve done that.
One aspect of Long Halloween that really appeals to Batman fans is how the story is set in Batman’s early career. Some have said it’s maybe a Year Two or Year Three story. Rookie Batman is such a popular era to mine from so what do you think is so interesting about those early years?
Well, one of the things we really made a point of stressing in the movies was that Batman is not the world’s greatest detective at this point in his career. Detective work is not something he’s comfortable with. It’s not something he ever thought he was going to have to do. He thought you put on a costume and you scare a criminal straight and you put him behind bars. He thinks to throw him in jail and I think it’s Harvey Dent who tells him “No, these people need to be rehabilitated. These people are mentally ill. We need to help them.” Batman has a lot to learn at that age. And yeah, people look at it as a Year Two story because it was Archie Goodwin who brought it up to Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale and said basically you can take Batman: Year One and now what happens after Year One. That’s why everybody looks at it as Year Two.
What the complicated thing about that is Batman’s Rogues Gallery is pretty much robust and they’re all locked up. He did a lot of stuff in that first year, but what he still has to contend with is the rot that built Gotham City and continues to run it. And that is where Carmine Falcone and the mobsters come in and so where the main focus of the criminal element of the story exists.
Now the last time that we talked was when Superman: Man of Tomorrow came out and that of course is also a story about a rookie Superman. How do you contrast Batman’s early years to Superman’s when writing not necessarily their origins, but those early days?
Well listen, I’m glad you asked that because I’ve talked about this before, Butch has talked about it before, but we started work on Long Halloween before we did Man of Tomorrow. The idea of Year Two, as a concept, was what fuelled us for Man of Tomorrow. We call it a Year Two in a sort of tongue and cheek way because obviously it’s not the second year of Clark Kent’s journey when you consider that Superboy happened and all of that stuff. But we thought the concept of Year Two for Superman was what are his first days in Metropolis like? It’s something that we don’t see explored too much in the comics. The contrast between them, I mean look, it’s night and day. Two of the great characters in these movies, Long Halloween Part 1 and 2 and Man of Tomorrow, are Gotham City and Metropolis. You don’t need to look further than Gotham City and Metropolis in these movies to see the difference in the lives of these heroes.
Gotham City is spectacular, but in a very sad way. It’s something that was great or could have been great and now is falling apart. Metropolis is very much when you see Butch and Chris Palmer’s [Man of Tomorrow and Long Halloween director] vision for Metropolis. It’s very much the city of tomorrow, it’s futuristic and clean and a very welcoming place. I think we think of Superman in that kind of environment. We think that he’s part of that environment, he grew out of that and he affects it, he makes it better. Batman is trying to make Gotham City better, but is he? That’s the question. I think everybody in The Long Halloween is trying to make the city better, everyone, even the bad guys. The question is are they doing it and who’s got the right way of doing it?
Awesome. Now my last question is a bit of a somber one. I wanted to ask about Naya Rivera who plays Catwoman. I thought she was absolutely great in the role. What was it like having her as Catwoman?
Well, let me say Naya Rivera’s work in The Long Halloween Part One and Part Two as a Catwoman/Selena Kyle, and we were fortunate that she was able to complete her work on both movies, it is up there in the great sort of pantheon, and I think we would’ve said this even if we weren’t memorializing her, it is up there in the great pantheon of performances not only as Catwoman, but in these stories that we tell in DC. Her work is spectacular and is heartbreakingly good. It will make us all long for more Naya. My heart is broken that we won’t get to work with her more because she loved doing it. She loved it. She was a joy to have in the booth and she’s great in this.
Thank you very much to Tim Sheridan for sitting down with us!
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One is available on Blu-ray and digital now. Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two will be released on July 27th, 2021.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.