Batman: The Long Halloween Part 2 is now available digitally and on Blu-ray, which wraps up DC’s animated adaptation of the iconic Batman story. Written by Tim Sheridan and directed by Chris Palmer, the films feature a star-studded voice cast that includes Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, the late Naya Rivera, Troy Baker, Billy Burke, Fred Tatasciore, and more.
“Inspired by the iconic mid-1990s DC story from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, Batman: The Long Halloween Part 2 continues as the Holiday Killer is still at large and, with Bruce Wayne under the spell of the venomous Poison Ivy, Batman is nowhere to be found,” says the official synopsis. “Liberated by an unlikely ally, Bruce quickly uncovers the real culprit: Poison Ivy’s employer Carmine Falcone. The Roman, his ranks decimated by Holiday and his business spinning out of control, has been forced to bring on less desirable partners – Gotham City’s rogues’ gallery. In the meantime, Harvey Dent is confronting battles on two fronts: attempting to end the mob war while also dealing with a strained marriage. And, after an attack that leaves Harvey hideously disfigured, the District Attorney unleashes the duality of his psyche that he’s strived his entire life to suppress. Now, as Two-Face, Dent decides to take the law into his own hands and deliver judgment to those who’ve wronged him, his family, and all of Gotham. Ultimately, the Dark Knight must put together the tragic pieces that converged to create Two-Face, the Holiday Killer, Batman, and Gotham City itself.”
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ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Batman: The Long Halloween screenwriter Tim Sheridan about adapting the classic comic into two films, the challenges of its length, and what the film is really about.
Tyler Treese: I would love to know about your relationship with the original graphic novel. When did you first read The Long Halloween?
Tim Sheridan: Well, my relationship is such that I’m going to be the big nerd here and correct you that it was actually a monthly book that was released. It was not technically what we would think of as a graphic novel, but certainly graphic novels can be released monthly. So I’m not going to argue with you too much.
I love this book. I think that most diehard Batman fans like me, and maybe like you, love this story. It’s inspired so many other writers and other creators and given so much to the mythology of Batman. It’s great because it, it really does take place at such an early time in Batman’s timeline that it has no choice but to inform our understanding of who he is and who he becomes. You see us lean into that a little bit in the movie, I mean we really play up the aspect of him being new at being a detective and having to sort of figure out how to be a Batman in the new Gotham that’s emerging.
Yeah. That’s a great point because you think about DC, that’s Detective Comics and Batman, he’s not the best detective during this. He’s focusing on the wrong suspects, all these people are getting killed during his investigation. Can you speak to that interesting time standpoint of Batman, where he’s not really at his peak deduction skills?
Well, it’s funny. I mean, I feel like it was so evident. Some people say to me, wow, the thing about Batman being new and being a detective is something you invented whole cloth and added to the story. I’m like, hang on a second. We all know that this takes place kind of like around year two in the book, right. For Batman, he’s got all the costumed guys, many of them are already locked up. But it takes him a course of a year to get to the end of the resolution of this mystery, and arguably a lot of people would read the book and say, it isn’t really Batman who solves the case. There are big, great questions up for interpretation because that’s what we get when we get a great work of art like The Long Halloween comic.
So, that to me then is completely organic to the story that this is a Batman, it’s going to take him a year. I mean, nowadays Batman would probably solve the case of the Holiday Killer in one issue, maybe two. To see him struggle with it and to get his sort of sea legs and figure out how he’s going to have to do this job going forward. He learns it from Harvey and from Jim Gordon. We see Harvey in the very beginning of The Long Halloween, he’s putting a case together. He’s working hard and he’s devastated when Johnny Viti goes down because that was his whole case. He’s devastated in this movie when things don’t go the way they’re supposed to go with Sal Maroni. He’s still trying to build the case the right way, that’s the stuff that Batman has to learn how to do.
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You spoke about this spanning an entire year. When you’re adapting this comic, how difficult is it both to have that timespan play out over the two films and then also working from such a beloved script, is it difficult to choose what makes it in and what you have to change?
Butch Lukic, James Krieg, and I, when we first sat down to talk about doing these movies, when you know that your goal is to, in the best way that you can as fans of the book, to realize the story and the essence of the story and the ultimate point of it in a new medium, in a new format in a way that could never be the graphic novel, but is its own version that exists in its own part of the multi-verse. It makes it much easier to make those decisions. One of the big challenges is, for this story, is dealing with the calendar. I mean, originally this movie was supposed to be the entire book. The entire 13 issues were supposed to be one 72 to 80-minute movie.
When I looked at it, I was like, you guys, I just don’t know how we’re going to do this and have it still feel like The Long Halloween in spirit, at least. I don’t even know how to. We would have had to have moved elements, big plot points into act one of the movie that shouldn’t happen for a long time. In the book, it played out over the course of a year. We had to wait a month to find out what was going to happen next. Well, now if we would have done this in a 70-minute movie, every minute and a half, every two minutes, we’re cutting to jumping ahead in time to a new holiday. It would just become sort of a snuff film or somebody is getting murdered than somebody getting murdered, somebody getting murdered. So we needed the air, we needed it to be able to breathe a little bit so that we could get a feeling for Gotham and because ultimately that’s what the story is. This is a story about Gotham City and its transition from organized crime to disorganized crime. That was kind of how we went into it.
There’s such a great voice cast. Jensen Ackles is fantastic as Batman, there are so many strong performances. Can you speak to Ackles’ performance as Batman?
The day that I heard that he had agreed to do it, I was jumping for joy. Just as a fan of his, I knew what he was going to be able to bring to this. I knew that he was going to be able to do. When you’re doing a big Batman movie based on a huge book, you’ve got to make sure you get the right guy. A guy who can conceivably play Batman at a very early point in his career. He’s still got, as we discussed, stuff to learn and it would be really difficult to believe that Batman had lots to learn if we had one of the guys who had been playing that role for so long and we really trust and know so well. We had to really come at this with an actor who knows Batman and knows them really well but could bring that element to the story, the element of being a little new at this, and Jensen tackled it absolutely head-on and to perfection as far as I’m concerned. I couldn’t be happy actually. He was happy to take part, to play Batman, to play Bruce Wayne, and it brings me endless joy as a fan of his to know that he was able to do that.
While Batman’s obviously the protagonist, the story has all these characters that normally are more on the side at the forefront here. Can you speak to that?
This story, as I said, it’s about Gotham City. It’s really the main character, right? Gotham City’s transition between that certain type of crime to a new type of crime. Really, the way that is represented in the story is through the different families who are all living in service to Gotham City. That’s the Waynes, Falcones, that’s the Gordon,s that’s the Dents. So it’s important, I think in order to tell this story in the way that we have in a film to really get under the skin of these characters a little bit and learn about the sacrifices that they made and the cost, which is what they talk about at the end of The Long Halloween. I mean, the real question is was it ultimately all worth the cost and what it costs these people, these men, and women who served this idea that is Gotham City, this once bright and shining idea that maybe could be bright and shiny again.
The story is so grounded compared to some other Batman arcs. How did you get that to resonate on-screen?
One of the big things about The Long Halloween was I went in scripting this as a live-action movie. I said, look, I’m going to write a live-action adaptation of The Long Halloween that we will just happen to animate. So that made for some decisions that we made along the way, what would work and what wouldn’t work in live-action and how we would bring that to life.