Zero Year has only just begun, but it is already making waves, and with the next two upcoming issues set to reveal Bruce’s transformation, Scott Snyder took time to talk to Newsarama about why Zero Year exists, and why he feels it was important to delve back into Batman’s origin.
He’s [Batman] really the only character in the New 52 who hasn’t had his origin explained. It became clear to us, to DC, that there were changes made to characters that appear in “Year One,” like Catwoman, and Jim Gordon, and the Falcone family, and the fact that James Jr. would only be six years old if that stood as Batman’s origin, that made them come to us and say “we need an origin, we’re going to do it, do you want to be the ones to do it?” And it was sort of, “yeah, I’m not letting anyone else do that!” (laughs) And I did have an idea of how I would do it. I’m always playing that game with my friends, like a “if I did the movie how would I relaunch Batman” kind of thing. So this kind of cut 180 degrees away from Year One and let us do something our own.
In regards to how he feels about previous stories and even the upcoming Arkham Origins game, Snyder had only good things to say.
I feel like each one of those great origins takes a very specific element of his maturation and makes it the heart of the story.
For Year One, it’s more of a Jim Gordon story, honestly, but it’s about how alienating it is to be a hero in a corrupt city, and how you’ll always be alone in a lot of ways. Begins is about overcoming your fear, and using it.
The thing I think makes his origin so enduring, is that there’s a primal terror with losing your parents. You never don’t feel that, as a child. Even as an adult, you still feel that, or losing the ones close to you, your support system and your family, you can’t think of anything worse. So it’s so enduring, because he overcomes that and becomes this pinnacle of human achievement. He’s the best detective, he’s the best chemist, he’s thebest inventor, he’s the best fighter. To see someone overcome that tragedy, to turn that tragedy into triumph – no matter how pathological and weird that triumph is – it’s a story that we’re all inspired by.
Snyder then spoke about what he’s trying to achieve in his re-telling.
That’s what we’re trying to do in Zero Year, honestly, is to move away from this idea of him being the ‘dark demon,’ and the Miller interpretation and stuff, which I adore. But, to have him still be dark and terrifying, but also recognize that he’s a symbol of inspiration in Gotham City, and hope. It’s a city constantly bludgeoned by crime and corruption and fear of terrorism – all the things you see today, we wanted to put in this city. […] For me, it’s what about the city is terrifying, what are you most afraid of?
So how Batman rises in our story is really about what he would be like if he formed today. Not even six years ago, but right now, what would he be like? Why would he do it, and who would he face? What would his gear be like, and his car be like, and the cave be like? All that stuff is stuff we tried to consider in rebuilding the mythology in a way that keeps the dark, terrifying elements of Batman, but also makes him a figure of resistance, a rebel, an outlaw, that inspires people to fight in a very punk rock kind of way. Stand up and say “I’m not afraid to be the crazy person that I came to the city to be.”
That’s really the key to the whole story, honestly, is this question of “what does Gotham mean to you?” “Bruce, why protect it?” “Why be a hero of Gotham?” “Who cares about Gotham, you didn’t grow up there and your parents were killed there! Why do you love it?”
So I show him as a kid going there and loving it.
The idea is that the city tests you. It’s there to be your villain, your antagonist. But if you survive that trial by fire, you’ll become that version of yourself that you know you can be. That’s what our story is about deep down, because we’re all Gotham. I always say that to the fans, but I’m trying to explain that thesis: You are Gotham, we all are.
Snyder also addressed the question of why he seems to only do larger story arcs.
I’ll only do the stories that are most important to me about the characters. I know people say “why do you keep doing these long arcs,” but it’s because I really feel like if you don’t get in there and swing for the fence on every story, you might as well move over and let somebody else do it. Because there are so many people that want and deserve to write Batman. I don’t want to write little stories that go month to month that aren’t the most important to me. I like doing a couple of those now and then, but my feeling is that the general mechanics of the book have to be what is the next big story that’s important? Not big for sales, big personally.
I promise, when I don’t have that, I will move off the book. Luckily for me, I do have a few more in mind, so if you’ll have us, I’ll happily stay through say issue 50 or so on the book, if people will keep us in Gotham. But the moment you don’t want us anymore, I’ll move off as well. I feel really lucky for being able to do this so far.
It seems we’ll have plenty more surprises coming from Scott Snyder, even after Zero Year’s 11 issue run. What characters would you like to see him write?