Bruce Timm does Marvel Shows at Warner Bros. Animation ?
I was browsing through former Marvel Comic EIC Jim Shooter’s old blog today, and found this little nugget of gold in comments dated September 6, 2011, from an anonymous poster whose identity should soon become obvious:
Hi Jim – Bruce Timm here. As mind-blowing as your “Marvel Almost Bought DC” story may sound, I can personally attest that such sublimely bizarre “What If” scenarios do indeed occur. I myself was on the extreme limit of a situation where the shoe was on the other foot…
In the early 90s (sorry, I can’t be more specific), my boss at Warner Bros. Animation, Jean McCurdy, called me into his office and dropped a bombshell: “Do we have any interest in licensing Marvel Comics characters?”
I guess she thought of me as the in-house superhero expert or something, because of my position as one of the big bosses in the Batman animated series. Anyway, I was pretty floored! It was pretty vague – I don’t remember
its exact wording, but the gist was that Marvel was suffering financially and had sent a feeler to see if Warners would be interested in licensing some of their characters for animation.
My reaction was two-fold: First I said, “Damn yes, we’re interested! Spider-man, Hulk, FF, all super-iconic, all ready to animate.” Then I said if Marvel was financially vulnerable, maybe we should consider acquiring the whole company. Jean’s eyes lit up at the suggestion, as you can imagine. My pitch at the time was that Warners would then own and control all the best superheroes in the world. It probably wouldn’t be cheap, but boy, it could definitely pay off in the long run.
Long story short, nothing ever came of it. The next time I asked Jean about it, she said the idea was non-startup, anti-trust issues, etc. I don’t know if she had actually proposed the idea to management or not. As I said before, sorry I’m a little fuzzy on the timeline – my memory is that it was after our Batman show had already aired so that makes it 1992 at the earliest – and it was probably after that the Image guys had all left Marvel, but before Marvel was acquired by Toy Biz.
Anyway, I just thought I’d share this. Really enjoy your blog.
John again. Wow, that’s something to imagine! BT and the WBA team doing animation projects on Marvel Comics characters in the mid 1990s!
A little historical background for those who don’t know:
– Image Comics artists (Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Erik Larsen, etc.) all parted ways with Marvel Comics at the end of December 1991 and announced the creation of their own company, Image Comics, on February 1, 1992. According to Wikipedia, the Marvel shares fell $3.25/share when the news became public.
– Marvel Comics filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 27, 1996 (right in the middle of Christmas break from my 3rd and senior year at Kubert School! What a great time to try to break into comics! ).
– Toy Biz merged with Marvel Entertainment Group to bail it out of bankruptcy on June 2, 1998, forming Marvel Enterprises. Ten years later, Marvel’s fortunes had rebounded, and Marvel Studios had its first big hit with IRON MAN.
– Disney bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion on December 31, 2009.
So it seems like it would have been somewhere between the comics market crash of 1996 and Toy Biz’s purchase of Marvel in mid-1998. So somewhere back when BT & Co. were working on Superman: The Animated Series, redesign Batman in the new adventures watch, and create what has become Batman Beyond. So their plates were already full. But stay! As the old DC commercials said – JUST IMAGINE!!!