Superhero Shorts: Dark Knight Legacy
Welcome to another edition of Superhero Shorts where I showcase a superhero themed short film and ask a few questions of the creator. This time around I’m talking with Cris Landa and his Nolan inspired short film that takes place after the Dark Knight Rises where someone needs to fill the void left behind by the absence of Batman and in his place comes The Red Hood and Night wing who differ on their opinions on how to deal with the criminal element. As usual, you can watch the video below or on the Machinima YouTube channel.
This is another great Batman short that puts itself in the Christopher Nolan universe of a more realistic and gritty Gotham City alongside Batman Puppet master and Arkham Rising. It also shares a similar high quality of production value and acting ability. It’s got a lot of intense and violent action right alongside references to other Batman characters. It really is a great start to what could have been an excellent web series. But enough from me, let’s hear from Chris Landa about the project.
Bubbawheat: The design direction in this short is one of the most impressive things about it, from the amazing Red Hood mask to the more subtle Penguin makeup. Can you talk a little bit about what went into the design decisions and how they were brought to life?
Chris Landa: Credit for the design direction goes to Dan Crawley and Jenny Green, who did the props and costumes. Dan is amazing and did Bane’s mask in Dark Knight Rises. His Red Hood helmet was awesome and made myself, and the rest of the crew, geek out hardcore when we first saw it. Jenny did a great job on the costumes and unfortunately, Lynx’s costume was going to be shown if the series was shot. The design for it was great and slightly creepy (which is how we like it).
For the Penguin, Woody and I wanted to stay away from the typical look from the comics. Dan and the team did a great job of making him more Emperor Penguin while still adding a look to the character that makes him fit in the universe Nolan created.
BW: I have to say that my experiences with the Red Hood and Nightwing are limited to the DC Animated Movie Under the Red Hood. Can you talk a little bit about where the webseries was going to go, as I imagine that the Red Hood won’t end up being Jason Todd who wasn’t in the Nolan series at all?
CL: Actually the Red Hood is Jason Todd! When we first started crafting the story, we made decisions about Jason Todd and how he fits into the world. The one thing that bothered me, and a lot of other fans, in Dark Knight Rises was Bruce’s injuries that he sustained in between The Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises. Additionally, if you think about Bruce quitting being Batman, it doesn’t entirely make sense either. What if Gotham needed a protector in the future? Even though his war was over, what if he was needed again?
Enter Jason Todd, another tortured soul that Bruce would train to take his place. Unfortunately, Jason’s belief in killing ended the relationship and was responsible for Bruce’s injuries. The series would have explored the relationship between Blake and Jason. In a strange way, like in the comics, Jason and Nightwing have the same goals but different beliefs on how to get there. The series would have put the two up against each other, with Blake finishing his transformation into Gotham’s true protector.
BW: I won’t go too much into the cease and desist, but it is something that everyone who makes a fan film runs the risk of running into. Are you surprised that it didn’t extend to the finished short? And will this discourage you from making any more future projects involving characters you don’t own the rights to?
CL: Not at all, Warner Bros. has always been fine with fan films on YouTube. The cease and desist was in regard to our indiegogo campaign, which they felt the need to shut down. My theory behind it was the success of the project, as it got picked up in over 20 publications and forced them to define a policy on crowdfunding. While other series have been successfully funded, they all flew beneath the radar for the most part. We were a little too public in bending the rules, and if you bend something enough you can’t be surprised when it breaks.
It’s hasn’t really discouraged us, as we weren’t looking to make money on it. If it got funded, that would have been great. If not, we’ll just move onto the next project. My main motivation for doing this short was because of my love of Batman. People spend a considerable amount of time on hobbies that fulfill them and this was no different.
BW: Aside from the Penguin, there were a lot of lesser known villains in the short, how did you choose which ones to use, and were there any that you wanted to include but didn’t make the final cut, or any that just wouldn’t have been feasible to do within your budget?
CL: Initially, Lynx was the only villain making an appearance until Woody used his brilliant brain to include the others. My favorite is Frank Birney, who played Arnold Wesker in both Dark Knight Legacy and Batman: Puppet Master. I was a big fan of Puppet Master and thought including the actor and character gives both fan films a transmedia vibe. We had plans to include the Riddler from Puppet Master as well.
When deciding to do a series, we made the choice to not include characters from the original trilogy as we didn’t want comparisons between actors taking away from the content. That said, I saw two scenes in my head that would have been amazing. The first was having Bruce Wayne recruit Jason in the same way Ras Al Ghul approached him in the prison in Batman Begins. The second would have been the teaser for the sequel to Dark Knight Legacy, where Black Mask frees the Joker to get rid of Jason.
Woody also wanted to introduce Deathstroke and Deadshot, as part of Jason’s past. Both would have been amazing and Woody’s take on the charcters would have resonated with bat fans.
BW: I thought the actor that played Wesker looked like the one from Puppet Master but didn’t realize it was the same actor. Is there anything that you’re working on now that you would like to talk about?
CL: We’re working on a new project, but are still in the development phase. I would love to do something a bit darker or with a strong female lead. I thought Rainfall Film’s Wonder Woman short was great and definitely made it clear to the industry that people want to see Wonder Woman on the big screen. I have been toying with an idea that is pretty much Catwoman meets The Wire. As soon as we decide on something, you’ll be the first to know!
BW: Awesome, I appreciate that and look forward to it. And finally, what is your favorite superhero movie?
CL: I would say the Tim Burton Batman film. It was amazing and took a chance by going straight into the world. My biggest problem is the needless retelling of an origin story when the entire world knows it already.
Thanks again for your time, I know I’m glad I’ve been able to find more than just origin stories out there which there are a lot of out there especially with every reboot. But im glad I got the chance to see this great short and am looking forward to what you do next. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.