(EDIT: Oops, we cross-posted. Well, I went to all the trouble to write it out, so...)
Here's another interview with Watson:
So Magpie's a good example. We wanted to portray Bruce Wayne and Batman as these guys who are on a sort of teeter-totter kind of thing, that one needs the other and without one the other can't survive. So we said, okay, basically we'll retrofit. We took the Magpie character and said, "Let's make her a woman who suffers from the same sort of thing, except that she chose to deal with it a different way." She tried to get rid of the bad, and the bad became so strong it overtook her. So Batman meets her and goes up against her and sees her. He sees his own duality in his own nature. And it tells him that he can't hide one side from the other. And that's a struggle that's going to come up again later in the show.
So every villain…it's the same thing. He illustrates a different aspect of Batman's personality. So that's how we chose them.
I really like his perspective, that it's about choosing the villains that allow telling the character stories they want to tell about Batman and his allies. That's a very smart, thoughtful approach.
And the way the series is broken up, there's 26 episodes and it's sort of broken in half. Although the episodes are standalone, character-wise we're telling a particular kind of story in the first half and a different type of story in the second half. But Anarky, he's throughout the whole thing and he's a catalyst significantly in the back half of the season in the stuff that goes on. We've always referred to him as Batman's Moriarty, and that's how we're portraying him in the show.
Interesting. We've never had a Batman show that was this arc-driven. The Batman
had story progression over the course of its seasons and some major changes between seasons, but I don't remember it feeling as meticulously planned out as this does.
I just hope the "broken in half" season doesn't mean that Cartoon Network will show the first 13 this year and the back 13 next year. I'm eager to see what's coming up, and I don't want to wait longer than necessary.
(By the way, remember that bit in the earlier interview about how each episode takes 9 months to a year to make? Turns out that's not uncommon for animation. I read a Legend of Korra
interview this morning where they say each episode of that show takes a year to produce. They're already writing the fourth season, and the second hasn't begun airing yet.)
Interesting bit about why they draw on established characters even if they have a totally new use for them:
Another reason is purely logistical and legal kind of stuff. There's a whole other thing you have to go through when you create brand new characters in-universe.
It's unclear what that "other thing" is, but it sounds like it's simpler from a legal standpoint to draw on an existing character rather than create a new one, even if all they do is take the name and a few surface aspects while changing the rest.
Although Watson goes on to say that a lot of it is just throwing in Easter eggs, familiar names that the fans will catch. Arrow
does that all the time, using characters whose names are from the comics even if they reimagine them as completely different people, the prime example being Felicity Smoak. I wonder how much of that is Easter eggs and how much is the legal/logistical "thing" Watson hinted at. And I wonder if the legal side of things has changed since the '90s, since B:TAS had no trouble creating new characters like Harley, Montoya, Veronica Vreeland, etc.
I love this part, about Tara Strong reprising her TNBA role of Barbara Gordon:
The funny thing about the Tara thing was we auditioned a lot of people, probably about 300 actresses for the part. Then we narrowed it down to ten or 20, something like that, and then we listened to them blind. We didn't know who was who. And when we finally picked the voice that we liked and we agreed on it, we said, "Well, who was the actress?" We learned it was Tara and it was like, "Really? That's who we?" We couldn't believe it, because obviously we knew Tara from before. But she really was the best one. It was amazing. And we didn't know it was her, either, because she does a slightly different voice. But damn, she's a talented lady.
Read the full article -- the last couple of paragraphs involve a fascinating character story they've got coming up for Bruce/Batman, an episode that takes him to a dark and terrifying place psychologically.