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…
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.”