Why Bruce Timm Was Never Offered A Live-Action Film After Batman: The Animated Series

Back in the day, DC used to run the superhero movie business. Before Marvel became a cinematic juggernaut, its rival was pumping out superhero fare and hitting home runs almost every time. From 1978's "Superman," to 1989's "Batman," all the way through to the unfortunate case that is "Batman & Robin," DC and Warner Bros. went unchallenged in the cinematic superhero sphere.

Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy aside, things have changed. Marvel continues to dominate not just the superhero genre, but the box office in general. Fortunately, James Gunn and Peter Safran are gearing up to help re-establish DC as a worthy rival with phase one of their cinematic universe. That will mean DC's biggest hero, Batman, will have two on-screen versions, with Gunn looking to cast a new Dark Knight for his planned "The Brave and the Bold" film while Matt Reeves continues his gloomy saga with 2025's "The Batman: Part II."

Reeves and whoever ends up directing "The Brave and the Bold" are just the latest in a series of esteemed directors to take on the Dark Knight. But since the beginning of that illustrious live-action Batman movie history, there's been a giant Bruce Timm-sized hole. Hugely influential in the evolution of Batman over the past three decades, for many fans, Timm and Eric Radomski's "Batman: The Animated Series" is the definitive depiction of the Dark Knight, but Timm has had a hand in the character's animated exploits ever since that show debuted back in 1992.

Timm has proven his worth as a custodian of Batman

Since "Batman: The Animated Series" hit in the early '90s, Timm and his team have proven they can produce cinematic stories with an emotional depth that rivals live-action movies. Some of the show's best episodes display movie-quality storytelling, while Timm and Radomski's first animated Batman movie, "Mask of the Phantasm," proved they could expand their storytelling and directorial abilities to a feature-length project. The film is often cited as many a Bat fans' favorite Batman movie ever made — equalling many of the live-action efforts with its sweeping tale of love, loss, and the origin of the Dark Knight himself. Even the current Batman, Robert Pattinson, cited it as a major influence for "The Batman."

On top of all that, since he took on the task of bringing an animated Batman show to fruition, Timm has consistently displayed a comprehensive understanding of what makes Batman, Batman. The former "Tiny Toons" animator was instrumental in crafting the dark tone and style of "Batman: The Animated Series," much of which came down to synthesizing the best of the character's decades-long history to create a show that truly represented Batman as the "lone "creature of the night" as he was dubbed all the way back in "Detective Comics" #27.

And if that wasn't enough to prove that Timm understands what works best for Batman, he and writer Paul Dini are responsible for creating Harley Quinn, a character that has gone on to enjoy massive popularity, being brought into the DC comic book Universe in 1999. With all that on his résumé, you'd think Timm would have at least had some conversations about being involved in a live-action Batman production. Alas, it seems Warner Bros. has yet to reach out.

'I have never once gotten a call'

Bruce Timm is used to having a lot of creative control, which thus far has paid off when it came to crafting his unique visions of Batman — from "Batman: TAS," to "The New Batman Adventures" and even "Batman: Beyond." In fact, the writer and director feels "Beyond" is "ready-made" for a live-action adaptation.

But with Gunn's planned DC movie slate, it doesn't look like a live-action adaptation will appear any time soon. Even if it did, there's no guarantee Timm would be involved in any capacity, despite the fact he's perfectly placed to contribute. Speaking to Den of Geek, he explained that the call just "never happened":

"I have never once gotten a call that said we would like you to make a live-action whatever. If they did, I would definitely think about it. I have never pursued it. Maybe if I had been a little more ambitious and a little less lazy, I would have hired an agent and actively explored that option, but I am kind of lazy and I like doing what I'm doing."

Asked whether his first live-action DC film would be a Batman movie, Timm said:

"Sure. Why not? On the one hand, that's enormously intimidating because there are some really big shoes to fill there, but the great thing about Batman is that there have been a lot of really crappy Batman movies as well. So my theoretical Batman movie might fall somewhere in between there. Better than 'Batman and Robin' and maybe not as good as 'The Dark Knight.'"

Timm's time to shine

It seems unlikely that Timm will be brought in to help out with any Batman movies in the near future. Matt Reeves has his side of things covered, and James Gunn/Peter Safran will likely be looking for someone completely fresh to take on "The Brave and the Bold." Meanwhile, Timm has just had his "Batman: Caped Crusader" animated series axed by Warner Discovery CEO David Zaslav. This means, James Gunn, that Timm is probably very available.

There's no shortage of fans that would love to see Timm involved in the DCU going forward. And considering he helped craft the DCAU ( or "Timmverse") into a genuinely stellar shared universe, there's no reason he couldn't do the same with the live-action universe. This could be a case of someone being too good at the job they already have, with the Warners not wanting to take their animation wizard away from the thing he does best.

While the live-action stuff is undoubtedly different from animation, Gunn and Safran could probably benefit significantly from the Batman expertise of Bruce Timm. Here's hoping the call finally comes.