Superhero Shorts: Batman Evolution
Welcome to another edition of Superhero Shorts where I take a look at a superhero themed short film and ask a few questions of the creator. This time around I have the fun short Batman Evolution where Eric Gable used his martial arts training and love of both the classic and modern styles of Batman to create a short that shows how Batman changed from the comedic and campy Adam West style Batman to the grittier modern Batman started by Tim Burton and taken even further by Christopher Nolan all while using authentic Ninjutsu techniques during the fight choreography. As always, you can watch the video below or you can visit their YouTube channel.
One thing I really enjoyed about this short was how it really captured the feel of both the Adam West era Batman as well as the more modern style of Batman falling I think somewhere in between Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan. The humor was quite spot-on without poking too much fun at the classic campiness. Aside from that, the special effects with the black goop were very well done, from my point of view it felt very grounded in the practical effects with a more subtle touch of CGI to really sell the effect. And of course the fighting looks great, if occasionally straying a little too far into the Zack Snyder slo-mo camp, though it does work well with the dubstep soundtrack. And on top of everything, Black Mask looks amazing (as does both the classic and modern Batman outfits). I really enjoyed the humor, the fight scenes, and the costumes. But enough from me, let’s hear from the man behind the evolution, Eric Gable.
Bubbawheat: When I first saw the description of the short and saw the change happen, I thought for a minute that he was going to go through all the variations of Batman instead of just the one. Did you ever consider doing that, or did you feel that while the Burton and Nolan Batman movies are very different from each other, they are still fairly similar when compared to the Adam West Batman, and the less mentioned of the Schumacher ones the better?
Eric Gable: That’s a great idea actually! But in this case, mostly because if budget, we needed to quickly get him to the modern Dark Knight in order to show off the fight moves.
BW: One of the most impressive things about this short is the moment where Batman gets covered in the experimental goo. Can you talk about what went into making that into a reality and how difficult was it to actually pull off?
EG: First of all our set design/props team created some goop to pour on me, which was awesome fun by the way, then our VFX wizard, Olaf Wendt, (Harry Potter, Star Trek), made the goop appear to morph into the modern bat cowl. It was a time consuming shot and we are very much in his debt for the top-notch work he did.
BW: While there is a lot of action in this short, there is also quite a bit of humor, especially surrounding the ’66 Batman elements. It’s often easy to poke fun at that era of Batman, but it felt like you mostly were on the side of playful reverence, were you a fan of the Adam West Batman, and how do you think it translates now that the ultra-serious Nolan Batman feels like the gold standard?
EG: Great observation. It was definitely playful reverence. I grew up watching reruns of the 60’s batman and it really struck a chord with me. What I love most about it is the charm and sense of fun. I do like modern darker stuff as well, but we (filmmakers) need to remember that there’s nothing wrong with a bit of optimism and fun once and awhile.
BW: One of the selling points of Evolution is the fact that it uses actual Ninjutsu, as someone in the know, do you look at the fight scenes in the Nolan trilogy differently than most people, and what was it that you specifically wanted to accomplish by using true Ninjutsu here in Evolution?
EG: I have no complaints about fights in other movies, but I am hoping to be part of a new wave that takes it to the next level. As far as the Ninjutsu goes, I’ve been wanting to bring it to the screen for years, (you’ve never really seen the real thing in films before), and Batman seemed like the perfect place to start. I’m really looking forward to our next project, (working title “Minion”), where I get to unleash it more fully. I’m especially looking forward to showing off some sword work. Overall I guess you could say Ninjutsu is part of my “brand”, something I plan to bring to all my upcoming roles. My absolute dream is to get a hold of a light saber in one of the new Star Wars films. So if anyone from Disney is reading this…
BW: If anyone from Disney is reading this, I’m calling dibs on that one. Batman has a large array of different villains to choose from, what was it about Black Mask that made him so appealing to use?
EG: Black Mask really fit the bill in terms of fighting skill and toughness, and seemed like a great hand-to-hand challenger for Batman. Plus, when I wrote Batman Evolution Black Mask wasn’t being prominently featured in any video games or other projects. So I was trying to use someone we hadn’t seen a lot of. Of course, by the time we finished our post production stuff we definitely weren’t the first.
BW: And finally, what is your favorite superhero movie?
EG: Does Megamind count?Actually, I’m really and truly stoked to see all the superhero projects being released this year. Hoping my new favorite will be among them!
Megamind absolutely counts, it’s one of my favorites as well and an often overlooked movie in favor of the Incredibles, and even though there are a lot more superhero movies coming out in recent years, they are all much better than almost anything we got to see in the 80’s and 90’s so I’m right there with you. And thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions I enjoyed reading them and am looking forward to your next projects. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.