bat shark repellant

Serious Squareness: an exclusive interview with Lorenzo Semple, Jr. on the creation of TV’s Batman

Holy unexpected delights! I opened my Tumblr inbox the other day to find a message from @jondambacher, and, well, let me just turn it over to him:

Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr. celebrates a birthday today (March 23rd). The following is an excerpt from a number of long interviews I was blessed, honored & ecstatic to conduct in 2008, for Lorenzo’s biography I was writing.

To the King of Serious Squareness, I celebrate you, I thank you, I wish you a Happy Happy Birthday.

Jon Dambacher: I have a quote from Dozier referring to you as “the most bizarre thinker I knew.”

Lorenzo Semple: Good.

JD: Have you ever read that?

LS: I think I have, now that you mention it.

JD: What do you think he means here?

LS: I don’t know what he means. He obviously meant it as a compliment but it’s… I don’t know what he meant. I just could think of off-the-wall things. When he showed me, as I’ve told you, when I was living in Spain writing plays with a family, he sent me a cable to come up and meet him at The Ritz in Madrid there in the garden of The Ritz, he had a very strange face, as he pulled out of his pocket a “Batman” comic book. Said, “Would you believe it, this is what ABC has given us to do, because they’d owed us one, can you believe it? He was… Was so disdainful of it. I, uh, in all honesty, I took one look at it and thought of it and said, "I know exactly what to do.” I’ll go home and I’ll write it.“ That was the only discussion about "Batman.” The only discussion. As I say I wrote it, Bill loved it, he gave it to ABC, they thought it was excellent, but they were dumbfounded by it because there was nothing like it. All those things like, “Pop!” and “Bam!” were all written into the script.

JD: That’s awesome! Did you guys just share some crazy sense of humor together–is that how you were able to create this amazing…

LS: Yeah! It’s not really that crazy once you get the note of it, you know what I mean?

JD: Okay.

LS: It’s all out of that same… That dead serious nonsense, you know what I mean? Adam was actually perfect for it and Burt in his way, too. You know, they’d be chasing somebody and Robin would say, “Park here, they just went into that building…”

JD: And there’s “No Parking” signs…

LS: “No Parking” sign, right! That kind of thing. All these come out of the same level of dead serious, squareness, if you want to call it that. Dead seriously square. That was… Which isn’t that bizarre compared to modern movies, you know, like Charlie Kaufman and things.

JD: Right.

LS: It wasn’t too bizarre. Bill probably thought it was bizarre but we’ve both recognized he was a sophisticated guy. He recognized it as being funny. He didn’t mind me thinking up all these things like Bat-Shark-Repellent or whatever it was when the shark had him by the leg…

JD: Right, the Shark-Repellent-Bat Spray.

LS: I guess you could call that bizarre thinking. To me it’s all a part of one type of thinking; do you know what I mean? Bizarre isn’t quite the word, I’d say imaginative.

JD: Okay. We were talking about favorite lines from that film specifically, one that’s stuck with me over the years–I’ve always wanted to meet the man who wrote the line, “Ah, a thought strikes me–so dreadful I scarcely dare give it utterance!”

(Lorenzo breaks out laughing.)

LS: That’s very funny, I agree! I agree! That’s the kind of thing we’ve been–you know, that pompous squareness actually. Very good hearted. Adam was a very sweet guy. A very nice guy himself and Batman, you know, nobody was killed in it and there’s nothing–except the name–in common with the Batman franchise, the Warner Brothers ones. The people who say, “What do you feel about those movies” always expect me to say something, I say, “Actually I don’t like violent movies particularly and I stay away from them.” The Batman I wrote has nothing to do with these movies–really has nothing to do with each other… My Batman is more in the spirit of the comic and the very fact that millionaire Bruce Wayne, that’s all you have to say… The fact that you refer to him as Millionaire Bruce Wayne, I mean…

JD: The Millionaire Philanthropist.

LS: The Millionaire–thank you! The Millionaire Philanthropist. I had forgotten that. Just the fact that you’d refer to anybody like that–if you’re sophisticated it shows immediately–it’s ironic at best.

JD: That squareness.

LS: You’re right. That’s what I mean. The squareness, exactly.

An incomplete list of Good Lines from The Lego Batman Movie:

  • “Batman doesn’t talk about feelings. I don’t have them. I’ve never seen one.”
  • “Riddle me this! …What just happened?”
  • “If you call me Batgirl do I get to call you Batboy?”
  • “British robots! Ask your nerd friends!”
  • “While I’m gone, Rope is in charge.”
  • “We’re carrying [enormous amount of explosives] and two best friends!”
  • “Alright Robin, we’re gonna beat these guys so hard that words describing it are going to appear in the air above us.”
  • “Bat shark repellant!” “Don’t - actually you can touch that, it’s pretty useless.”
  • “I’ll say it first. Batman, I hate you. Now you say it.” “…Me too.” [other villains booing]
Various Dick Grayson Headcanons
  • Richard John Grayson is. A. Cuddlebug. Bruce was incredibly startled the first time his young ward full on tackled him in a bear hug—Alfred what is happening what is the small thing doing Alfred what is going on I don’t understand Alfred HELP ME—and it took him a little while to realize how important physical affection is to Dick.
  • Dick constantly sits upon/leans on/lies on top of Damian and let’s be honest he’s one of the very few who can inflict such indignities upon the person of the son of Batman and remain unscathed. Dick: “Oh no! Gravity’s increasing on me!” Damian: “I swear to various demonic entities, Grayson, if you-” Dick: *collapses on top of the ten-year-old* Damian: “I KNOW THIRTY-SIX DIFFERENT WAYS TO KILL YOU FROM HERE, GRAYSON.”
  • Dick was Superman’s #1 fan as a kid and even as an adult he still feels a little giddy every time Superman shows up. For all he loves and respects Batman, Superman just has that coolness factor that will never go away.
  • When he was a kid whenever he met a fellow super-hero for the first time Robin would always try to do the grim and gritty routine. He felt like he had a reputation to uphold as Batman’s partner. It would generally last about five minutes.
  • Dick can assume just about any speech pattern at need, but his natural speech is rapid-fire patter on top of an absolute mess of a conglomerate accent, a hold over from his circus days. He’s also a natural mimic and, without realizing it, will assume the accent of anyone he speaks to in the course of a conversation.
  • “Bat-cave,” “Bat-car,” “Batarang,” “Bat-shark-repellent,”–all Dick. He started it as a joke, but Bruce just kind of kept it and the Bat-prefix became a sort of institution. The line was drawn at Bat-butler, however.
  • Everybody knows that Grayson tells the best Batman stories, all heavily embellished and campy beyond all get-out, but entertaining beyond belief. “So there we were, Batman and me, stuck by our utility belts to the fiendishly clever decoy buoy, with the third penguin-torpedo coming straight towards us, and Batman’s bat-signal-jammer out of batteries. Seconds left to live. If it hadn’t been for the nobility of that near-human porpoise-” (Bruce neither confirms nor denies a single Grayson story.)
  • There were a couple of months there where Robin’s voice would just kind of brEAk which was absolutely mortifying in the field. “Kleptomania? You should prOBAblY–*coughs awkwardly*” Catwoman: *sympathetically* “Do you need a minute?” Fortunately his voice smoothed out into a pleasant tenor before too long.
  • Alfred enforced home economic classes around the manor so Grayson can cook, but if he had more of a say in the matter he would eat nothing but breakfast food for the rest of his life.
  • Dick doesn’t exactly respect the furniture. He will sit upon, lean against, and lie down on any surface, upside down, often as not, and when he was a kid Bruce was never quite sure where he was sleeping, in a chair, draped across the top of a couch, on the floor, on the stairs, in the pantry, halfway off of his bed… if Dick was ever lying peacefully on his back in bed with the covers on top of him and his head on the pillow he was absolutely up to something, probably pretending that he hadn’t just got in from a solo mission or that he wasn’t going to sneak out later that night.
  • Grayson’s the reason there’s a house rule that all chandeliers in the manor are off-limits.
  • Grayson’s the reason for most house rules. (Except for the ones intended to prevent criminal activity–those are because of Damian.)  Tim Drake never had to be told that the roof of the manor was off-limits when there was lightning.
  • Robin was always adorably polite to Batman’s allies and even as Nightwing will sometimes address “Mr. Superman” or “Miss Wonder Woman.” He also has never called Jim anything but “Commissioner Gordon” and took a full three months to become comfortable with “Bruce” and “Alfred.”
  • He has been his own man for nearly a decade now and he still freezes in absolute terror whenever Bruce uses THAT tone of voice. (And breathes a silent sigh of relief when it turns out that somebody else is in trouble.)
  • Alfred is the only person on the planet Dick considers scarier than Batman.
  • Suicides always tear Dick up for weeks afterwards, especially the jumpers. 
  • First as Robin and then as Nightwing, he’s always kept a photograph of his parents in his suit close to his heart, laminated against whatever nonsense he might wind up in. He never told Bruce because he was worried that he’d be told to leave it at home, since it could jeopardize his secret identity.
  • Robin’s wit could be extremely cutting at times and once he unintentionally made Bat-Girl cry. That earned him a quick smack upside the head and he was made to apologize immediately.
  • Passive-aggression, thy name is Dick. All of his associates agree that, easy-going and good-tempered as he is generally, absolutely nobody will drive you up the wall faster than Mr. Grayson when he’s at cross-purposes. 
  • Robin would often start cracking up right before launching into a bunch of crooks: at first Batman was worried about losing the element of surprise, but he quickly realized the terror element of hearing straight-up laughter before a huge black back drops from the sky, backed up by a somersaulting brightly-colored dervish. After a while some goons would just bolt at the sound of Robin’s laugh.
  • Grayson loves kids and is very good with them–even miniature devils like Damian.
  • Dick’s always made friends with incredible ease: it’s keeping in touch with them that’s hard.
  • Dick insists on playing the venerable oldest brother to all Robins/others and it can be extremely irritating at times. “I never got away with stuff like this when I was Robin. You kids have it so easy. Why, I remember when-” (Damian: “Well real sons get special treatment, Grayson.”)

anonymous asked:

“if i get on that motor-bike i’m 500% sure i’ll die” (SuperBat)

“I’m not getting on that.”

Bruce paused in the act of putting on his helmet and raised an eyebrow at Clark.

“It’s just a motorcycle.”  Honestly, what was the problem?  Bruce had his license, plenty of experience, and a second helmet (for all the good it would do considering that this was Clark).

“Yes, it is, and if I get on that motorcycle, I’m five hundred percent certain I’ll die.”

Bruce put his helmet down.

“You’re being ridiculous.”

“Motorcycles are death traps.”  Clark folded his arms and looked shifty.

“You’re kryptonian.  I could crash this thing in a giant fireball, and you’d walk away without even a hint of road rash.”  Bruce paused as a thought occurred to him.  “It’s the color, isn’t is?”

“…No?”  That was, quite possibly, the most unconvincing answer Bruce had ever heard.  Clark was looking away now and rubbing his nose.  It was a better indicator than a ten foot tall neon sign.

“There isn’t actually kryptonite in the paint,” Bruce sighed and rolled his eyes.  The racing bike was, indeed, a bright, eye-watering, slightly glittery green (which Bruce liked quite a lot, thank you very much, he didn’t need everything he owned to be black).  “Why would I have a motorcycle painted in kryptonite?”

It was Clark’s turn to look unimpressed.

“It’s you.  Why wouldn’t you have a motorcycle painted in kryptonite?  It certainly wouldn’t be the strangest thing in your collection.  Remember the ‘Bat Shark Repellent’?”

“That came in handy that last time we were in Atlantis.”  Clark had a point, but Bruce wasn’t willing to concede it.  “Besides, if I was going to do something like that, it wouldn’t be green.”

“True.  …I’m still not getting on it - I’ve seen how you drive the Batcycle.”

Gah!