Dear DC Superhero People,
Hi, I’m Daniel Angelo Monaco, I’m the guy who spent his lunch money in the 90s on all of your crap. You may remember me as that middle school kid who bought a special edition of Batman Year One and thus helped you put a down payment on that yacht you used to cheat on your wife in 1998.
I just wanted to let you know that I love you and cherish the time we’ve had together and I will continue to love you guys in print, I’ll buy every magazine with Batman’s face on it, no matter how many reboots you put me through. I love you and that love is perfect and beautiful and it’s not going away just yet. I will stand by DC comics out of loyalty and trust, because I remember how good you can be. I know you were the company of (the not insane) Frank Miller, (the not obnoxious) Alan Moore, and Warren Ellis (who has always been insane and obnoxious but that’s why we love him). I know that this unconditional support has taken both of us on a lot of left turns in the past and we’ve both gone to places we don’t appreciate but in the end I’ve stuck it out, even when you let Jim Lee redesign Wonder Woman’s costume or that time you people did three crossovers in a row just so you could do Flashpoint. Also, you’re still less of a pain in the ass than the other guys who only make movies now.
So my criticisms are not being leveled at the DC Comics crowd this time, you guys just keep doing what you’re doing (wait, actually don’t do that either), this time my venom is being fired at the idiots in Time Warner’s Movie Division. The Guys Who Make DC Super Hero Movies.
You people are morons.
First you plunge headlong into Man of Steel, a depressing mess of a superhero movie where I watched Henry Cavil’s Glutes cry over his dead dad for two hours and then KILL SOMEONE, and despite being savaged by fans for that mistake, you charge forward with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice ( Pokemon Iron Diamond Ambush Ruby Edition) which is now supposed to have Superman, Lex Luthor, KGBeast, Batman, Wonder Woman, possibly Cyborg, and god knows what else. It’s going to be a tremendously over stuffed film that is jam packed with the shared universe architecture required to establish the Time Warner/DC brand against it’s Arch Foe Disney/Marvel in their chosen battlefield: the global movie marketplace.
But here’s the thing, DC is taking humongous, unneeded risks with it’s movie properties.
Batman V Superman has not yet proven the sniff test of “Will this be fun” and thanks to the annoyingly grim tone of DC’s films and the promise of introducing more gray shaped grimness over and over again in a sequel that stars the guy who starred in Gone Girl, is directed by a guy who made a movie about 300 men dying on a battlefield, and costars a man who is best know for starring in a period historical drama about The English King Who Killed His Own Wife and Best Friend So He Could Set up His Own Religion. Basically these films will have all the gritty crap that Marvel has deliberately avoided to be successful and they will have them just as their main competitor heads in the other direction. They are setting up a situation where someone is going to be right and someone is going to be wrong and if DC loses their bet…guess who already has the head start and the highest profile in that marketplace to pick up the momentum…
What’s messed up is that as of December 2014, I’ve already seen a MUCH better version of what will inevitably be shown in the upcoming Batman v Superman film.
Yeah, once again the people who seemed to have been thrown the licenses for two minor super heroes as a total one off cash grab have managed to pull off an amazing coup! The two part crossover between Flash and Arrow was a transcendent piece of TV brilliance.It had all of the requirements of a superhero block buster but scaled down for TV and it was the most beautiful thing ever. It had fun, action, humor, and the very same debate about “What is Justice?” that will probably occur through out Batman V. Superman, but not directed by an asshat like Zack Snyder.
At one point, Arsenal and Green Arrow teamed up with the Flash to fight Captain Boomerang in the lobby of an ARGUS monitoring station.
My hand to god, I also wrote that exact sentence when I was 14 in a fan fiction story so it’s possible that Arrow’s writing staff may owe me some money.
Once again Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, and Greg Berlanti have proven that they care more about their tiny portion of the DC Universe than Time Warner cares about the major tent pole franchises of the same properties. In every way, these guys have done right what other parts of DC’s media arm have done wrong. Where Man of Steel is Grim and Gritty, Flash manages stay level headed and fun. Did they cancel the awesomely action oriented Young Justice and replace it with that crappy Teen Titans Go? Not to worry, Arrow has all the adventure and action you’ll ever need. Are you sick of seeing just Batman and Superman over and over again? Not to worry, Firestorm, Atom, and Suicide Squad are already rumored to be in the pipe. Pissed that DC has spent the better part of a decade hemming and hawing over a Wonder Woman movie? That’s okay, Berlanti and crew are dropping a Supergirl show on CBS and, yes, the door is open for it to cross over with Arrow and Flash.
It’s not just costumed heroes either, Constantine on NBC and Gotham on Fox have achieved steady successes and I got news for you, they are all a hell of a lot more fun than everything else we’ve seen so far from Time Warner. It’s weird but that critically acclaimed hit Dark Knight Trilogy seems to actually have done damage to the DC Film Universe. By being so dark and bleak but still successful, they brainwashed Time Warner into believing that’s what the common people wanted.
But that’s such a skewed interpretation of that trilogy! Batman was a symbol of hope for the people of Gotham in all three of those films and despite the dark story-line, it showed a man ultimately transcending that darkness and becoming a role model for the people around him and that’s, like, the true meaning of Bat-mas, Charlie Brown.
And that darkness was part of Christopher Nolan’s “Adaptation” of the story, it wasn’t pointlessly dark and twisted like Tim Burton or painfully unhip like Joel Schmacher, Nolan made specific style choices to advance a story and that story was not nearly as bleak as we remember it was. If you will recall, at the end of that Trilogy, Batman retires and honeymoons with Selina Kyle in Paris after teaching Gothamites how to get along without him. In what way is that “dark”? Wait, sorry. Not “dark”… I meant “realistic”. The Studio wants people to use the word “realistic” because they believe seeing Superman getting arrested by the military is a “realistic” interpretation of a flying alien superhero.
The point of Batman (and every superhero really) is and has always been “one crazy man has a dream to change the world and succeeds” and if you’re going to ignore all that and take away “Grrr Darkness” than you just don’t get Batman. Or Superman. Or any of this crap.. It’s honestly like WB learned the wrong lessons from Batman and the wrong techniques from Marvel’s shared universe. They see a massive money maker made from “Grrr Darkness” and they want to split that into a bunch of overwrought, stuffy bleak movies for a group of mythical fan boy virgins. It’s like the people in charge of these movie properties are incapable of finding the fun that the fans so desperately crave. It’s almost like they’re being produced by a massive douche frat boy who thinks the Martian Manhunter is stupid and She Hulk is only worthy of being a sex fantasy.
I know what you’re going to say, “We haven’t seen the films yet, why are you doggin’ their non-existent efforts, bro.” Well, imaginary Duke University Lacross Player, that’s the other part of the problem. They aren’t here. They aren’t in the marketplace and their brand is suffering for their lack of clarity and commitment. For years, people have tried to imagine a Justice League Movie and for decades across gaming tables, internet message boards, and comic book shops we have talked about how much we wanted this and the response from Time Warner was “eh, maybe.” Even after Marvel came in, smashed records, and showed everyone the best case scenario, their reaction was still “Eh, I don’t wanna”. Now it’s 2014 and their properties are already finding success in a place nobody expected, it’s even a place where Marvel is struggling (Have you seen the ratings for Agents of Shield?). And their response to this unexpected success has been “Eh, let’s ignore it and push forward with this massive slate of movies that people are already frustrated with and making fun of.” Remember that Wonder Woman Movie I mentioned? 2017 is when that comes out. Marvel will have four more movies on DVD and one ready for release by that point. They will already be at the market and DC will just be showing up again.
I understand that there’s a business element to this. Goyer’s crew came first and had the rights to the movies, Berlanti and co have the nod to do work with almost everything else, Gotham can probably use everything except actually showing Batman and that’s on a different network than Constantine, which probably has the rights to anything in JLDark, which is going to be it’s own movie, and Time Warner is a humongous media giant and the internal politics between all of these different production companies and etc and etc. It’s a mess, it makes money, but it’s a mess and this is the exact kind of Gordian Knot that Marvel managed to avoid by going it alone. It’s the exact situation Kevin Feige decided to take out of the Comic Book Movie Business and conform to one single vision.
Time Warner could do that too but frankly they won’t because they, like a lot of the other people in Hollywood, are still trying to squeeze money out of an old paradigm. Time Warner is old, slow, and dying just like everyone else in Hollywood’s movie business and I imagine that as Netflix rises and Hulu takes over, a lot of the folks who made all of these stupid decisions are going to be out of a friggin’ job.
But there is a ray of sunshine in that rainy death cloud. Because when old media dies, we will get better product. We will probably get exactly what I imagine Greg Berlanti and the CW already want, which is more DC properties under his control over at CW. Imagine a Doom Patrol tv show, a Hawkman show, or Aquaman, or Lobo? GREEN LANTERN? Basically they will touch at the edges of the DCu until someone at the crumbling wreckage of Time Warner will just break down and say “Here’s Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, now excuse me, I have to go pawn my watch for soup.” All of this wraps into a Justice League tv miniseries with Stephen Amell, Grant Gustin, Brandon Routh, Robbie Amell, and someone cool playing Martian Manhunter, someone like, oh I don’t know…this guy…
I would cut off portions of my body to see him play J’onn. Or Cyborg. Hell, let him play Superman. I won’t judge.
Arrow and Flash aren’t perfect, they are very obviously fitting into the “Hot boys and drama” network strategy of the CW. It’s softcore porn, (and believe me, I know what softcore porn looks like) But I regard that as a strength, not as a weakness. Because an amazing thing has happened in between all that sweaty salmon laddering: women and young girls are watching a super hero show and becoming super hero fans. By repackaging an old formula for a new audience, they’ve found a market for minor, crappy DC characters no one cared about. I know of at least six women who have been drawn to the original comic properties that Flash and Arrow are based on and now consider themselves fans. The CW made a quality product and they’re reaping the rewards that come with said product. It’s modest, sure, but not as modest as you might think. That’s astounding and also way outside of the massive, overwrought vision that everyone else has for these properties. By staying small, they’re winning big. Also they’re keeping Wentworth Miller employed, which is a tremendous act of charity.
All in all, I think it’s time to break up with DC Movies. I think we need to accept that the people in charge are not as good at making them as we want them to be and that the time has come to take the fun from what’s already on the table and not get too hopeful for the buffet they’re building in the corner. We already have all of the DC media we need, it’s being shown on TV and not theaters and that is more than enough to please the comic book die hards like me and the average, casual CW viewer who so can’t even right now because of Olicity.
On the other hand, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this ham handed approach will work and we’ll get a decent number of films out of this before superheroes go the way of the Western, the swashbuckling pirate movie, and the Horror movie where they fade into the realm of the unprofitable genres. Maybe people really do want dark, brooding heroes in rainy gray back drops as the world explodes behind them. Maybe likable characters, fun dialogue, and well written plots are only suitable for quirky television shows. Maybe I’m the idiot and those type of superhero movies just don’t work.