DC Comics Movies: What's Happening There?


That looks about right...

So, in the last couple weeks, it's been revealed that DC and Warner Bros. is getting serious into making some more movies based on their comics. I don't know why? Could it be that the New 52 has sparked such a resurgence of interest in these characters, that literally millions of new fans are clamouring at the walls for new films?

No, it was because the Avengers has made $1.4 billion dollars in six weeks, and they want a taste.

Apparently, at various stages of production (ranging from theoretical, to nearly started) are film versions of Wonder Woman (again), The Flash (again), Lobo (really?)and because team based films are clearly where the real money is at, Justice League (again).

Remember, they came this close to making the Justice League before. And it would have been terrible. Armie Hammer as Batman, some model as Wonder Woman, and the kid from the O.C. as the Flash. Barely any of the actors had their driver license, let along had enough physical or dramatic presence to carry a film about the greatest superheros of all time. They say the Writer's Strike killed the film, but I think the studio knew they had a dud on their hands, and had a convenient strike to blame it on when they smothered that baby in it's crib.

So, what's the issue. I honestly don't think that Warner Bros. has enough faith in these properties to give them the attention they deserve. Warner Bros. is the librarian who refuses to stock graphic novels because "real books don't have pictures." Warner's, even with the success of Nolan's Batman series, doesn't see superheroes as something they should invest in (and really, Batman is so much it's own thing, it doesn't count). The problem isn't DC, they have no say in the matter. They are owned, wholly and completely, by Warner's, have been for years. If they want to get a movie made based on their properties, they have to go hat in hand to the studio and beg just like everyone else. Which means they are completing on equal grounds with every other film pitch heading at Warner's. Movies that Warner's is much more interesting in making then superhero films, because they are expensive, and a 'niche product'.

This ended up going on longer then I expected, so hit the jump for the rest.

Marvel doesn't have this problem. Marvel formed it's own movie production studio when it was still an independent company. Meaning, it generates it's own money, to produce it's own films, which it writes and films, and then give to another studio to distribute. No one has to give them a single red cent, if they don't want to. Then, Marvel was sold to Disney, using the Pixar model. Basically, Disney takes control of the company from a business point of view, but from a day-to-day working perspective, the companies remain separate.

Of course, remember back to the early days of the millennium. Blade had come out, a Hard-R vampire flick back before those were what everyone was doing. You'd never know it was based on a comic, to look at it. You'd think it was just a horror movie. It did alright, and gave Marvel the confidence to try and get something bigger made. Spider-man had lived in a James Cameron shaped limbo for most of the nineties, but Marvel had an idea. Sell off the major property rights to studios willing to put money down. Spider-man went to Sony, X-Men and Daredevil to 20th Century Fox. Fantastic Four, Hulk, everybody but the Avengers got sold to the first bidder, to do what they liked with them. And the result were what you'd expect. Spider-man managed one and a half good films out of three, each that completely misunderstood the character of Spider-man. Fantastic Four, Hulk, and Daredevil all crashed and burned. X-Men looked like it was going to make it, then it's leg snapped off, and has been turning in circles on a bloody stump since Bryan Singer left the series. Even Blade slid straight into a brick wall after two films.

It was only after Marvel took a direct interest, and direct control over the creation of it's films, that the quality went up. Forget the whole shared universe thing, and just look at the movies that have come out since Iron Man. They are better movies. Movies that are written, produced, directed and acted by people who clearly give a damn about the film they are making (possible exceptions for Iron Man 2).

DC can't have that. They can love the film as much as they like, but at a certain point, it's going to be taken away from them, and given to a director who doesn't get it, or an actor who doesn't care, and a studio that doesn't want to risk $20 million on something that might only appeal to a small sliver of the audience.
So, what do they do? They back out of a Joss Whedon scripted Wonder Woman film (I hated this then, but love it now, because you bet the guy who made that decision is eating his own ass with every dollar Avengers makes). Geoff Johns and the DC guys can say all they want that the movies are in the works, but that is no guarantee. It's a high school student saying his parents will let him have the car this weekend. Chances are, you're taking the bus.

Right now, DC is 10 years behind Marvel, on film. What movies that do get made, are terrible. Catwoman, Constantine, Jonah Hex. These are examples of a studio forcing people to make a movie a certain way, for a certain budget, to distance itself from it's origins, and appeal to as many focus groups as possible. And it's not without justification. The movies they have taken a chance on, they've gotten bit. Superman Returns was an absolute failure of a film, on every level. They took a bath on Watchmen. Green Lantern was so stupid in every regard, it wiped itself from my memory. Only Nolan's Batman series has produced both critical, commercial, general and fan success. Because they let Nolan do want he wanted, and didn't interfere. And because, unlike other Batman directors, he treated the characters with respect. He made good films. Studios are running a business, and firmly believe in the old 'once bitten, twice shy' rule. And superheros haven't made Warner Bros money.

Really, it comes down to getting a film made. In the past 4 years, since the release of Iron Man, Marvel has made 11 films, both by themselves, and with other companies. These are films starring named superheros, not just based on books published by Marvel. These are Ghost Riders, Punishers, X-Men. All in, for good or bad, 11 films. In that amount of time, DC has made 5, two of which were Batman films, and one of which was Watchman, and I'm including next year's Man of Steel. If I include next year in the Marvel number, it jumps to 13.

So, would it be nice if they could get a decently made Justice League movie made, of course. I welcome seeing characters I prefer on scene (I'm more a DC person myself, when it comes to the books). I want to see Wonder Woman, and Zatanna, and the Teen Titans on screen. I want to see Green Arrow, and characters that aren't from the Bat Family. I want to not watch Superman '79 again. But I honestly believe that it's not going to happen anytime soon. Because Warner Bros doesn't want to make these movies.

And they are kidding themselves if they think any of them are going to make what the Avengers made. No one saw that one coming.

Via /Film, and The Mary Sue.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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