Gotham’s Cur­rent Cu­ra­tor

When a char­ac­ter has a legacy as deep and rich as Bat­man, how do you take the hero for­wards? For Scott Sny­der, it all comes down to mor­tal­ity and mak­ing the hero his own…

Comic Heroes - - Interview - David West

From Denny O’Neil to Alan Grant, Frank Miller to Grant Mor­ri­son, the good and the great of comics have steered Bat­man’s ad­ven­tures. Now Scott Sny­der is at the helm on Bat­man’s epony­mous se­ries. For Scott, Bat­man’s ul­ti­mate an­tag­o­nist is the city of Gotham it­self, while the the­matic core of his ap­proach is the no­tion of Bat­man con­fronting his own mor­tal­ity.

“That’s what the Joker story was largely about,” says Scott. “The Court Of Owls was re­al­is­ing that no mat­ter how much you might rule the city as its hero, there are gen­er­a­tions that came be­fore you and that will come af­ter you. It’s very much about the tragedy and hero­ism wrapped up in the no­tion that Bat­man is do­ing some­thing that will make him leg­endary, while at the same time of­fer­ing a con­stant re­minder of his own hu­man­ity and lone­li­ness. He has no fam­ily and no life out­side of his cru­sade. In that way it’s won­der­fully heroic and ad­mirable and that’s why he’s my favourite hero. At the same time it’s self de­struc­tive and dark, and that in­ter­sec­tion of el­e­ments in his psy­chol­ogy is what makes him end­lessly fas­ci­nat­ing to me.”

One of Scott’s big­gest chal­lenges lay in find­ing his own way to ap­proach the char­ac­ter. “When I started on Bat­man, I fully ad­mit Bruce is so in­tim­i­dat­ing and looms so large in my head, that it’s hard to write him with­out be­ing de­riv­a­tive,” he says. “But as you write him over a pe­riod of time – I’m into my third year at this point – he be­comes some­one who is in­tensely hu­man and you know him bet­ter than any­body else be­cause it’s your par­tic­u­lar in­ter­pre­ta­tion. You see other people’s in­ter­pre­ta­tions as fully formed psy­cholo­gies. I can tell Grant’s Bat­man right away and I see how he works psy­cho­log­i­cally. Sim­i­larly, Frank Miller’s Bat­man or Denny O’Neil’s Bat­man are very dif­fer­ent from ours. Talk­ing to Grant in San Diego this year, he made a com­ment that you have to trust in your own ver­sion of him and he made a joke, ‘Even when you kill him.’ I re­alised he has an endgame for his Bat­man in mind, mean­ing he knows how his Bat­man fi­nally goes down even if that story isn’t writ­ten.

“I do too and that’s what that short that I did in De­tec­tive #27 with Sean Mur­phy was about. It’s ac­cept­ing that your Bat­man is your own, and even his death or how he de­fies his own death is some­thing you in­ter­pret as a writer that is very per­sonal. It’s re­ally about mak­ing him a char­ac­ter that feels cre­ator-owned for you. The only way you can get past the in­tim­i­da­tion and write stuff that’s re­ally per­sonal in the book, is to take what you love about him and stay true to its core, but bend it to­wards your own it­er­a­tion, so it speaks to the things that you love and fear the most about him.”

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