Bruce Timm Sees An Important Difference Between Batman And Superman's Origin Stories

Batman and Superman were both created to inspire — one operated under the light of hope while the other operated in the shadow of fear. The two superheroes are on a similar mission; they aim to defeat evil and protect those who they love, all while leading a dual life so they may defend their city and its people. They're neither allies nor rivals; they're set on individual paths that see them fight against the most sinister villains. 

No matter the circumstances, Batman and Superman never lose a sense of who they are and are vigilant about following their principles and moral codes. While the characters may sometimes seem more similar than they are different, there's an essential difference in their origin stories. Bruce Timm, who helped establish DC's Animated Universe with "Batman: The Animated Series" and "Superman: The Animated Series," believes the stark difference behind the inception of both superheroes is the sheer scale of their stories.

From Krypton to Smallville

Batman's origin story is an absolute tragedy. It features him swearing vengeance against criminals after witnessing the murder of his parents as a child. He trains himself, develops his vigilante persona, and monitors the streets of his home, Gotham, at night, lurking in the dark until a case needs his intervention. Superman/Kal-El, on the other hand, was born on an alien planet called Krypton. His parents send him to Earth to safeguard his life moments before a cataclysmic event wipes out his entire planet. His ship lands in the American countryside near Smallville, which is where Superman is eventually raised. Both origin stories have been told several times and in different forms — but Bruce Timm, in an interview with Comic Book Resources last year, said he believes Superman has "the best origin story."

Timm compared the two superheroes, explaining how Batman's origin is more of an "incident," suggesting Superman's is relatively rich in details, and the massive scale of it allows for live-action coverage. Since Superman's origin has a sequence of events to catch up with, Timm, along with his team, was able to illustrate it through three whole episodes, unlike Batman's, which concluded in minutes.

'Batman's origin story is ... it's an incident'

Here's his quote from the interview:

"The thing about Batman's origin story is it's an incident. It's something that happened. It's not a whole episode, it's six minutes of screen time. Superman's is epic. It's got all kinds of biblical stuff in it and a huge scale. We knew it was a great way to say, right out of the gate, this is not B: TAS ["Batman: The Animated Series"] again, this is something really different. We're going to spend the entire first episode on another fricking planet. I just couldn't resist it."

Timm continued, stating he enjoyed designing Krypton and making it look unique, unlike anything we had seen before.

"I love the origin story and getting to design Krypton from the ground up into something that didn't look like the Christopher Reeve movie or specifically like anything from the comics, was a super fun blast. All the rest of it is great too: the Smallville stuff warms the cold corners of my heart. When you get to Metropolis, you get introduced to Dana Delany and Clancy Brown — what's not to love?"

"Superman: The Animated Series' features a lighthearted tale of the superhero; it's packed with both entertaining and unexpected storylines, which keeps it interesting right from the beginning!