One of the greatest Batman stories of all time is finally coming to the screen. Originally published as a 12-issue comic series by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale, Batman: The Long Halloween is a yearlong murder mystery in which Gotham City’s organized crime figures keep getting killed on holidays. Though Batman is trying to take down the mafia alongside his allies Commissioner Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, they don’t support extrajudicial killings – especially when the witnesses they need to formulate a case against the crime bosses keep ending up among the dead.
Next week Warner Bros. will release Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One, the first of a two-part animated adaptation of the story. EW assembled a roundtable of actors Jensen Ackles (Batman) and Julie Nathanson (Gilda Dent), writer-producer Tim Sheridan, and supervising producer Butch Lukic to discuss their take on the classic tale.
One of the first topics that came up was the fact that The Long Halloween has been in development for years, but it was stalled for a time when Warner Bros. thought Matt Reeves might use the story for his live-action movie The Batman. When that film, starring Robert Pattinson as the Dark Knight, ultimately went a different direction, the animated version was able to proceed. That means those involved are finally able to talk about it – and Ackles is definitely ready to talk about Batman.
You may have seen Ackles dress up as the Dark Knight for Halloween 2019. As many fans wished, the actor is now playing Batman for real – and in one of the character’s best story lines, no less.
“I come from a previous film where I voiced Red Hood,” Ackles says. “So when I got the call for this, I assumed I would be reprising that role into whatever story these guys were adapting. But then I realized I’d gotten the upgrade! I don’t think they even got the whole word ‘Batman’ out. They were like, ‘Bat-‘ and I was like, yes!”
When it comes to the Halloween getup, Ackles admits, “I couldn’t help myself.” But it also came together organically.
“I had this wonderful crew person I was working with who hand-made costumes and cosplay stuff,” Ackles says. “She didn’t even know. She did a Red Hood version for me. She was like, ‘I’m gonna do a Batman, would you be my mannequin?’ And inside I was like, ‘If you only knew!'”
Although the masculine trio of Batman, Dent, and Gordon are at the center of The Long Halloween, this adaptation also centers female characters. Nathanson’s Gilda pokes holes in Harvey’s heroism, while Catwoman (voiced by the late Naya Rivera) keeps Batman on his toes.
“There’s a lot of, well, duality in this particular film,” Nathanson says, in a tease to fans who know or suspect where The Long Halloween leads. “But I think the female characters also have their own two sides. I hold that as Gilda, having her own personal space and stuff she’s dealing with, and her guardedness because of pain, mixed with her desire to connect with her husband. The women get to play with that duality and that strength as well.”
Watch the video below for more. Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One releases digitally and on Blu-ray on June 22, with Part Two following later this summer.