The stars of comic books, television and movies will be in town this weekend during the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), to be held at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. Among the comic celebs will be award-winning writer Brian Azzarello, known for his take on some of DC Comics' greatest heroes: Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman.
With Batman currently celebrating his 75th Anniversary, Azzarello took time from his busy schedule to talk about the iconic character. Calling from his Chicago home, we discussed the evolution of the Dark Knight; what makes him such an enduring character; which creators influenced his development; and how he would fare against other heroes in battle:
Elliott Serrano: Batman is celebrating his 75th Anniversary, and has become more than just a character but a pop culture icon. In your opinion, why do you think the character has endured for so long? There have been other characters that came from that same era: Zorro, The Phantom, The Shadow, all of them had similar origins ad were created around the same period, and yet Batman is the one we find on lunchboxes now. Why do you think that’s the case?
Brian Azzarello: Because of his villains. Easy. He’s got the best villains in comics. And I think that some of his villains are as iconic as he is, you know as far as in pop culture. The Joker, definitely. I think the Joker resonates with people as much as Batman does. I mean look at what Heath Ledger did in the second movie ("The Dark Knight") , he stole that movie. That character stole that movie.
ES: And considering how much the character has evolved over the decades, I mean he went from being the World’s Greatest Detective to being DC’s Biggest Badass, how do you think that came about?
BA: I think that the actual bones of his origin, that actual type of character, is very easy to adapt to different - I guess he’s gone through eras, hasn’t he? That character reflects his time better than just about any other character that I can think of.
Superman is pretty much the way he was - you know - what he’s always been. A lot of the
Marvel characters are products of their time. I think Batman as a character has been able to adapt, he’s pretty malleable.
ES: As far as being a creator and a fan of the character goes-
BA: I’m a fan-
ES: I’m sure. Outside of Bob Kane, who was there in the beginning and Frank Miller who gave Batman that big boost in the 80’s, who do you think is the one creator who you think influenced the evolution of the character the most?
BA: Oh, I’d have to say Denny O’Neil, probably, yeah. When you pose the question Denny immediately came to mind.
ES: How about artists, as far as the look of the character?
BA: [Exhales] Man, I can’t think of just one. You know why I can’t think of just one? Because Batman is the one character that - probably across the board - every artist that draws comics wants to draw. Even the guys who don’t normally want to get near superheroes will with Batman.
Again, he’s really a malleable character, in that regard, you know? Lee Bermejo, who I worked with (on the OGN "Joker"), he does a pretty great Batman that definitely influenced the way Nolan’s movies looked.
ES: When you bring up the movies, which of the movie incarnations is your favorite of the Batman incarnations?
BA: You mean the Tim Burton ones or the Nolan ones?
ES: Or the Adam West one, or the 1940’s one? Which one did you like the most?
BA: I didn’t like the Adam West one. [laughs]
ES: [laughs] Okay.
BA: It’s funny, I was originally introduced to Batman through the television show, okay? And I didn’t like it because it was corny. It was ridiculous but I had to watch it.
And then when I saw the comics, and these were Denny O’Neil comics, (I thought) “wait a minute; this is completely different from what I saw on TV.” And you know, then the character started resonating with me a little bit more.
I like what (Nolan did) - the Nolan stuff was pretty good. Definitely the second one ("The Dark Knight") I really liked. And I liked some of the Tim Burton stuff too.
ES: You’ve written all the biggies at DC, so I’m going to throw some match-ups at you and you tell me how you see these going down, okay?
Batman versus Superman. Who wins?
BA: Doing what?
ES: Okay, um, Batman versus Superman for the last nacho.
BA: [laughs] That’s a test of will, and Batman would win that.
ES: [laughs] Batman versus Wonder Woman for the best parking spot.
BA: Again. He’s such a dick, he’d take it from her.
ES: [laughs] Batman versus Captain America for bragging rights in Monopoly.
BA: Oh, he’s a better strategist and much smarter. He doesn’t lose, okay. So Batman again. If you’re gonna keep asking me this I’m gonna keep saying Batman.
BA: I mean if it was Batman versus Superman arm-wrestling then I would say Superman.
ES: Okay, I’ll throw a Chicago question at you: Batman versus Ditka.
BA: Oh well. Ditka.
ES: [laughs] Is that the Chicagoan in you or comic-book writer in you saying that?
BA: Ditka’s got a whole city with him- so…
ES: Good one!
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