Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash

Kevin Smith takes on Batman, Bruce Willis, Warren Zevon

Native son discusses his latest projects

By Alex Biese
December 9, 2009
Read the original article here

Batman, Bruce Willis and Warren Zevon: aside from being three pillars of our culture and a trio of pretty cool guys, it doesn't seem like the Caped Crusader, the star of the "Die Hard" series and the writer of "Werewolves of London" have all that much in common. But soon, Monmouth County filmmaker and author Kevin Smith will have his name closely associated with all three.

We caught up with Smith this September when he and longtime friend and collaborator Scott Mosier brought their popular SModcast series to Red Bank's Two River Theater, and after the show he took some time to bring us up to speed on a few of his upcoming projects in the worlds of film and comics.

First up is "Batman: The Widening Gyre," Smith and artist Walter Flanagan's second go-around with the Dark Knight for D.C. Comics. Issue three of "The Widening Gyre" is available now, and issue four hits comic book shop shelves on Jan. 6, 2010, according to the D.C. Comics Web site.

Smith explained why he and Flanagan decided to return to Gotham City after completing the three-issue mini-series "Batman: Cacophony" earlier this year.

"We had such a good time doing (‘Cacophony'), but also I hadn't written a comic in a while, (Flanagan) had never drawn for DC, so we were both kind of figuring it out. ‘Cacophony' is totally an easy read, but you could see in places like, ‘Oh, they're still putting it together,'" Smith said. "By the time we hit ‘Widening Gyre' man, we just hit the ground running and both of us are much better at the job than we were the last time out."

The writer and director also frankly discussed part of the reason he felt more at-ease while penning "The Widening Gyre."

"I really wanted people to dig it because I thought it was like some of my best comic book writing and I wrote it completely stoned, you know, and that's what's wonderful," Smith said. "Like, I remember writing it, like blazing, writing, waking up the next morning, reading it going, ‘This is dope,' because I didn't remember writing it. I was like, ‘Quick, what happens to Batman next?'

"So, I think it's a lot more creative than any of the other stuff I've done in comics, because you know, it's not a stoner story by any stretch of the imagination but getting stoned just allows you to kind of look at something from a completely different perspective than you normally do. So, I've written for Batman like in my Green Arrow run and ‘Cacophony,' but this time I was writing stoned and it was a different approach to the character, and I feel a better approach. I mean, that's not the kind of thing you want to be saying to people on the newspaper, like, ‘Smoke weed! It makes you a better writer,' but it's absolutely true, you get more into detail, I think."

The book, which finds Batman at a sort of mid-life crisis as an old flame re-enters his life and a new hero created by Smith appears in Gotham City, features appearances by some of the brightest stars of the D.C. universe, including Superman, Aquaman, the Joker and Poison Ivy.

And while there's plenty of action to be found in "The Widening Gyre," Smith said that his focus while writing was on the characters and Bruce Wayne's internal struggles.

"You know, far better writers than me have written the fucking Batman adventure story, and I'm so not that guy," Smith said. "I'm writing the Batman middle-age story, like Batman who's just like, ‘You know, everyone I ever trained went on to have somewhat of a normal life, except for doing this job at night that they also do, but I'm the only who really can't function like them, and why is that? And maybe it's time that I should, why can't I have that? I'm like one of the richest men of the world, I'm obviously a tactician, I can figure shit out, why don't I just figure out how to have a life and be Batman?'"

According to Smith, his and Flanagan's latest work in the world of comics "is really kind of Bruce (Wayne) looking at, ‘What is lacking in my life, aside from my parents who are long dead? I'm lost in the wood, and I think it's time to give myself something,' and that's kind of what it's about, the story."

Along with creating a new adventure for Batman, Smith recently re-teamed with his "Live Free or Die Hard" co-star Bruce Willis and "30 Rock" star Tracy Morgan (who also appeared in Smith's "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back") for "A Couple of Dicks," a comedy set to be released next February.

"Both of them (Willis and Morgan) turn in wonderful performances. I mean, I'm biased, naturally, but fucking Bruce, I've never seen Bruce be this good in years, he's so good in the movie, it's amazing," Smith said. "And Tracy Morgan is the same thing, Tracey is sublime and just a comedic genius."

Smith also gave us the rundown on who else we can expect to see in "A Couple of Dicks." "Seann William Scott comes in and fucking kills, Kevin Pollak, Adam Brody, Jason Lee, not a weak link in the bunch and if there was we cut them out. But in shooting everybody, we never had a weak link, they were all really, really strong. The movie tuned out really well, nobody's going to believe I directed it because it looks so good, it looks like a movie and people are going to be like, ‘Nah, somebody else made this.'"

The next project on Smith's filmmaking slate is a big-screen adaptation of the Warren Zevon track "Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)," which appeared on the acerbic singer-songwriter's 2002 album "My Ride's Here." As Smith's Twitter followers should know by now, the man is a devout hockey fan, and Zevon's mix of humor and pathos seems like a solid fit for the director of "Chasing Amy."

"December right now is wide open, and that's when I'm going to sit down and start writing and I've got pages and pages of notes, I already wrote the last 10 pages of the script which is weird, I went to the end and started, but it's ready ... it's just fucking poised to go," Smith told us in September.

Smith was upfront with the financial uncertainty that would come with bringing "The Hockey Song" to the big screen.

"I don't know if anybody's going to want to do the hockey movie, because name one hockey movie that people made money off of in its theatrical release; it's tough," he said. "Look, the sport doesn't have a massive following, how the fuck is a film about the sport also going to have a massive following? So, you go in with tailored expectations, you know you're kind of dealing to a very specific audience, dealing with a specific audience, so you know, we'll probably make it on the inexpensive side, I can't imagine spending more than $25 million on a movie like that."

However, Smith is convinced of the power of his project. "When all is said and done, when that movie's done, I guarantee you it's gonna impact, it's gonna hit people, even if you don't like hockey it's gonna hit you in a very personal place," he said. "The movie I see in my head, and more than that the movie I feel in my heart, oh God, it's gonna be good."

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