Dwayne McDuffie & Bruce Timm On ‘All-Star Superman’

Two of the creators behind the latest DC animated feature film offer their insights in one of McDuffie's final interviews.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Dwayne McDuffie & Bruce Timm On 'All-Star Superman'

Last week, Crave Online attended the West Coast premiere of "All-Star Superman" at the Paley Center in Los Angeles. While there, we spoke with the film’s director, Sam Liu, which you can find here. We also spoke the executive producer of the film, Bruce Timm, voice actor Matthew Gray Gubler, who portrays Jimmy Olsen in the film as well as Dwayne McDuffie, in one of his last interviews before his extremely unfortunate death earlier this week. 

While Timm and Gubler largely spoke about the "All-Star Superman" movie, McDuffie revealed that his next (and now final) DC animated film will be announced within a few months and also mentioned other projects that he would have worked on had his life not been cut so short.


Bruce Timm

Crave Online: Bruce, is "All-Star Superman" one of your favorite Superman stories?

Bruce Timm: It absolutely is my favorite Superman story of all time. I just like how Grant and Frank went kind of back to the history of Superman. Specifically back to the late ’50s and early ’60s when Superman was at his weirdest. The quote/unquote "Weisinger era" where every issue Superman had some amazing new power and Lois was really conniving and paranoid and weird. He found a way to take that weirdness but freshen it up so it didn’t seem really retro and corny and old hat.

It felt pure. Like that’s really Superman. That’s basically it in a nutshell.

Crave Online: When condensing the story down to a movie, which parts were the hardest to leave out?

Bruce Timm: There’s a ton of hard cuts. There’s so many great little bits in the entire arc, but we had to cut out whole sections of story. There was a great two issue arc where he goes to Bizarro world and he meets the Bizarro Bizarro, named Zibarro, which is a great, great story. Thematically, it fits in with the rest of the arc about Superman’s final days and what Superman does and what Superman means to the world. Even though Zibarro was kind of tricking him into staying there on Bizarro world, Superman by his own innate goodness inspires Zibarro to be a better person. It’s just a wonderful story.

That was the one that I miss the most. But fortunately, Dwayne (without any prompting from me) looked at the 12 issue arc, boiled it down to its essentials and figured out exactly what needed to be in the movie. And I think he was exactly right. It’s still very much like the source material. I think it’s a really successful adaptation. I think it’s one of the best that we’ve done.

Crave Online: Do you have a favorite moment in the movie?

Bruce Timm: God… there’s a lot of them. I’m a big softee. I’m like John Boehner, I cry at the drop of a hat. So, you know this movie makes me cry a lot. There’s five specific scenes that made me choke up. I can’t really say more than that.

Crave Online: What are spending your time on these days? "Green Lantern: The Animated Series" or more DC animated movies?

Bruce Timm: Both. I’m doing both at the same time. I’m executive producing the "Green Lantern" TV series and still continuing to executive produce the DTV movies. So, yeah… I have a pretty full plate.


Matthew Gray Gubler

Crave Online: Matthew, what drew you to the role of Jimmy Olsen?

Matthew Gray Gubler: Andrea Romano, who I’m a giant fan of, called and asked. I’m a big fan of the Superman franchise and playing a character that’s loved by many… I couldn’t say no.

Crave Online: Do you have any particular favorite Jimmy Olsen moments in the film?

Matthew Gray Gubler: When he’s wearing a dress. I admire any moment when a guy is crossdressing in general. [Laughs]

Crave Online: Have you read the original comics?

Matthew Gray Gubler: The original "All-Star Superman"? No, I’ve not. I know some of the older [comics]. I’m more [into] the older 1930s and ’40s Superman, that I know a bit better than the modern take.

Crave Online: Do you have any other voice work coming up?

Matthew Gray Gubler: I do! "Alvin and The Chipmunks." I play Simon for the third time in "Chip-Wrecked." And Andrea Romano cast me in the new "Scooby-Doo" movie called "Attack of the Phantosaur."

Crave Online: Are you playing the Phantosaur?

Matthew Gray Gubler: I play a paleontologist who’s helping to unearth the mystery of the Phantosaur.

Crave Online: What’s your dream project for animation?

Matthew Gray Gubler: Anything! I love being animated. I wish I was animated in real life. Anything… I love it.


Dwayne McDuffie

Crave Online: Dwayne, the last time I saw you here at the Paley Center, you said that you had two DC animated features coming up. Obviously, one of them was "All-Star Superman." What can you tell us about the other one?

Dwayne McDuffie: Absolutely nothing except that it is coming up. They will probably announce it during the summer. But until they announce it, I can’t talk about it.

Crave Online: Do you have any other DC animated films coming up besides that?

Dwayne McDuffie: I’m talking to them [about that].

Crave Online: Do you have any comic work coming up?

Dwayne McDuffie: No comics [right now].

Crave Online: So, you’re a full time animation writer now?

Dwayne McDuffie: No, I’m a full time writer. When there are comics available to write, I’ll write them. But right now, there’s not that much available. So, I’m doing the TV stuff.



Crave Online: I understand it was a difficult process whittling "All-Star Superman" down from 12 issues to a 70 minute film. What was the hardest cut for you?

Dwayne McDuffie: The hardest cut was the suicide scene. That’s my favorite scene. It not only encapsulates the themes of the larger piece, but it encapsulates to me the essence of Superman. Unfortunately, given the arc of the movie, there was no place where we could put it that made sense… where it didn’t derail the narrative arc. I think it’s better to not do it than do it badly because it’s a wonderful thing.

Crave Online: Do you have that scene where Clark Kent goes to visit Lex Luthor in prison in the movie?

Dwayne McDuffie: Yeah, it’s one of my favorite scenes.

Crave Online: Okay, tell us about some of your favorite moments in the film.

Dwayne McDuffie: You just mentioned one of them. I loved the ending. There’s a scene where Superman says goodbye to his mother that I loved very much. The date with Lois Lane is just incredible… a really wonderful extended sequence. Basically, I keep saying this "Grant [Morrison] and Frank [Quitely] gave us an embarrassment of riches." There are so many great scenes in this that the hard part was figuring out what to cut. It wasn’t making it work, it was "how can we do this?"

Crave Online: How would you define Superman for yourself?

Dwayne McDuffie: He’s an idealized reflection of our best impulses to help. Our impulse for hope. The best things about us. Physical, mental and moral strength projected outwards so we can look at it.

Crave Online: You mentioned earlier that you’d like to do a "Static Shock" animated feature like this. Which storyline would you pick?

Dwayne McDuffie: I’d probably do something all new.

Crave Online: Has his name been changed to Static Shock? Because even his new comic is called that now.

Dwayne McDuffie: No, his name is still Static. The name of the show was "Static Shock." It’s like James Bond name isn’t "Quantum of Solace." It’s James Bond.

Crave Online: Are you involved at all with the new Static comic at DC?

Dwayne McDuffie: I’m consulting on it and they’ve got a really good [creative] team on it. Not only is there a new Static series, but there’s a new Xombi series with original writer John Rozum and Frazier Irving on the art that I think is going to knock people out.

Crave Online: Any plans for Icon to come back?

Dwayne McDuffie: If he comes back, I’ll be writing him. But no plans right now.

Crave Online: Aside from Static, what’s your dream job that you haven’t gotten to do yet in animation?

Dwayne McDuffie: I… guess I don’t have good dreams. I like to work on interesting things as they come along.

Crave Online: Are you still on "Ben 10"?

Dwayne McDuffie: Yes, I am. We are heading towards our 150th episode.

Crave Online: That’s crazy, man.

Dwayne McDuffie: It is absolutely nuts. It’s very popular and we’re having a great time doing it. We’ve still got a lot surprises left in that franchise.

Crave Online: Getting back to comics, do you have any creator owned ideas that you’d like to get out there?

Dwayne McDuffie: I’ve got tons of stuff. I don’t know if this is a good [comic] market. You know, when Superman, Batman and Spider-Man can’t sell… My new thing, I don’t know if it’s necessarily a really good idea to put it out there right now.

Crave Online: Well, I look forward to anything else you have coming up.

Dwayne McDuffie: Thank you very much. Good to see you again.