DC’s future

twitter DCs future0facebook DCs future0google DCs future0pinterest DCs future0tumblr DCs futurereddit DCs future0stumbleupon DCs future0

This story in the WSJ reveals that DC Comics’ days as the shy, studious librarian of the Warners empire are doneski, as Warners bets on a new film strategy with DC at the center. The plan involves fewer films but larger tentpole opportunities for each of them. And all eyes are on DC:

“Films with our DC properties have the opportunity to support other divisions in the company in a way that our other movies don’t,” Mr. Robinov says, for example, with products such as a Superman game or toys. By 2011, Mr. Robinov plans for DC Comics to supply the material for up to two of the six to eight tent-pole films he hopes Warner Bros. will have in the pipeline by then.


These will not be chipper films, like the crash-and-burn of SPEED RACER:

Like the recent Batman sequel — which has become the highest-grossing film of the year thus far — Mr. Robinov wants his next pack of superhero movies to be bathed in the same brooding tone as “The Dark Knight.” Creatively, he sees exploring the evil side to characters as the key to unlocking some of Warner Bros.’ DC properties. “We’re going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it,” he says. That goes for the company’s Superman franchise as well.


News of the film slate is forthcoming:

The studio is set to announce its plans for future DC movies in the next month. For now, though, it is focused on releasing four comic-book films in the next three years, including a third Batman film, a new film reintroducing Superman, and two movies focusing on other DC Comics characters. Movies featuring Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, and Wonder Woman are all in active development.


MEANWHILE, back at the ranch, Val links to a report from the Toronto DC panel which suggests that the new word at DC itself may be “stable characters you can build a franchise on”, at least per Dan Didio.

“What happens is that if a character doesn’t work, we go, ‘We got a brand new direction to put him in! We’re moving him into something new! We’re going to try something brand new and different! We’re going to throw everything out and start over again!’ We make that mistake, but what that does is, it alienates fans.

“Our biggest mistake is that we don’t continue and build on…what we should be doing is let it sit for a while and then come back with a good strong story with what’s going on. That’s what Geoff [Johns] does. That’s Geoff’s secret weapon. He doesn’t throw it all out and start all over. He builds on what’s existed and makes it better…We get too worried about the minutia…all we should be doing is telling great stories with out characters.

“What we’re doing coming out of ‘Final Crisis’ ” and I’ll say this here, and I’ll say this everywhere ” is that we’re locking our characters down. We’re going with a good interpretation, and we’re staying with it. That’s why you don’t see Aquaman right now, because we want it to be clear what it is, who he is and what he’s all about.”

Comments

  1. And here we have the problem with Hollywood in a nutshell. “The Dark Knight” was a hit because it was so different from everything else (a dark and brooding superhero movie) so now they want EVERYTHING else to be just like it. They don’t for a single moment think it was popular because it was _different_ (and well-made). Sheesh.

  2. (Now that I think about it, the Comics industry does almost the same thing, so maybe I shouldn’t complain too much. But it’s silly in any medium)

  3. I agree with Patrick’s assessment. I knew this damn Dark Knight movie would screw it up for the rest of the movies now. Superman is not a brooding and dark character. He’s the opposite of Batman, but hey, Batman made mega money cause a main star in it died. If Ledger didn’t die, this film wouldn’t have made the money it did. Curiousity drove people in. Captain Marvel would also be another character who needs a bright tone to it.

    I like a bright, hopeful and fun Speed Racer every now and then. It’s still one fot he best movies I’ve seen this year.

    Once again it shows that Warner Brothers doesn’t know how to get it right.

  4. Warner Brothers is amazing, it’s like they have been walking around with the winning lottery ticket stuck to the bottom of their Guccis for over thirty years.

    They scraped it off and discovered DC Comics.

  5. Now they are going to put their winning lotto ticket in their pocket and throw their jeans in the wash and warp it to the point you can’t recognize it from any other balled up piece of soggy paper.

  6. Steely Dan says:

    “That’s Geoff’s secret weapon. He doesn’t throw it all out and start all over. He builds on what’s existed and makes it better…We get too worried about the minutia…all we should be doing is telling great stories with out characters.”

    But telling great stories with their characters is NOT what they’re doing. They’re creating continuity porn, obsessed with fitting every “story” into an overall fabric that has become unnecessarily and frustratingly incomprehensible. Instead of Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison, they should be using Darwyn Cooke and his DC works as models to follow: clear, concise, self-contained stories, with fully-formed characters instead of archetypes, and stories with actual beginnings, middles, and endings instead of these never-ending crossover fests. Mr. Cooke’s books are pretty much the only DC titles that I’ve bought in the past five years (the unexpectedly good “Green Arrow: Year One” being a noteworthy exception) precisely because they work as stories and because they don’t require that I have a doctorate in DC Comics history to understand what the heck is going on. And this is coming from someone who has affection for the DC stable of characters and who would gladly buy more books featuring them if they would actually do what Mr. Didio claims that they want to do–tell good stories–but which they are failing at miserably.

    The reason the new series of Batman movies works is because they don’t focus on such minutia–instead they streamline 60 years of history into a concise and coherent story and throw away all the barnacles, precisely what Mr. Didio is arguing against doing by citing Mr. Johns’ work as what is good about what the company is producing.

  7. Aw, man, I hated The Dark Knight. I guess I’m going to hate the rest of DC’s superhero movies, too. I’m so frelling sick of gloomy misanthropic pessimism.

  8. DK was a great Batman movie because the dynamic was a direct distillation of why it works so rewardingly in the comics — with a cool Joker who didn’t look like Nathan Lane. I thought Begins was good, but mostly because of its promise for a 2nd film. Same thing with Superman Returns, which was incredibly different (there’s that thar word again) because it allowed for the characters to change in drastic ways. To me, it held the promise of a truly interesting sequel. Oh well.

    Lovely metaphor Neil.

    -Brad

  9. Yeah, it seems they’ve completely missed the boat on this one. The Dark Knight wasn’t a big hit because of its brooding tone…it was a hit because it was a well-acted, well-written, well-directed film that stayed close to the tone of the source material. The same reason Marvel had big sucess with the Spider-Man, X-Men, and Iron Man movies. As a huge Superman fan, I have no interest whatsoever in seeing a “brooding” Superman film….that misses the appeal of the character entirely.

  10. Jesse Post says:

    “Creatively, he sees exploring the evil side to characters as the key to unlocking some of Warner Bros.’ DC properties. ‘We’re going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it,’ he says. That goes for the company’s Superman franchise as well.”

    I guess it’s official — superheroes are no longer for kids. At all.

    Sigh.

  11. Of course this is the plan, because what we all obviously want to see is a Dark Superman that uses his x-ray vision and super-hearing to keep constant surveillance on everyone, causes incalculable amounts of property damage in pursuit of criminals, and becomes a fugitive hunted by the Metropolis Police Department.

    If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch the 1978 Richard Donner classic made by people who knew what the hell they were doing…

  12. UGH. I wish people would stop equating “DARK” with the “good”

  13. Warners is equating “dark characters” with “fully-realized” characters.

    Not the same thing at all.

  14. Alan Coil says:

    So not only is DC Comics going to go out of business soon, but they are gonna take Warner Bros. with them.

    Atta boy, DiDio.

  15. The more I read, the less I’m interested in reading comics that are meant to support films…

  16. Joe Lawler says:

    Now they are going to put their winning lotto ticket in their pocket and throw their jeans in the wash and warp it to the point you can’t recognize it from any other balled up piece of soggy paper. ”

    I think it’s more like they said “These numbers won once, so let’s use them again on a second ticket.”

  17. So in other words, Warners are about the make the same mistake the comics industry made back in the 80s after Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen.

    This could be comedy gold!

  18. They are going to introduce Superman again??? I think this character should be passing out his cards to the older crowd and saying “Thanks for the add!” to the younger people. Of all characters, does Superman really need an introduction?

    “Hi, I have powers far beyond those of mortal men”

    “you don’t say! Wow, I never heard of such a thing. Tell me more!”

    “Yes, and my name is Clark and I grew up in Smallville, not that you ever heard of these things”

    And everyone knows what Aquaman is about,

  19. Torsten Adair says:

    Let me define the cliche of superhero movies (monocliche?): The Superhero is gifted with talents which places the superhero above the general populace; the gift is tempered with tragedy or failure; the hero then confronts his own power and goods demons by battling his nemesis, which usually is a more powerful version of the superhero; a battle is fought, with the fate of the world in the balance; the superhero is victorious, few question the means to ends.
    superman fighting his dark self? Happened in Superman II AND III. And you can’t get much darker than killing the POWERLESS last survivors of Krypton AND slipping Lois a rufi at the end of Superman II.
    American cinema has many dark heroes. Redemption is another powerful storytelling tool. What hasn’t been seen on film is a buddy hero flick, where one is light and the other is dark.
    Another strong theme is temptation…to take one’s good intentions and pave Hell. (Marvel could undercut Warner’s Justice League movie by producing the Squadron Supreme.)

  20. Thomax Green says:

    I personally worry about DC/Vertigo’s future. As a writer I have always wanted to work for them, but they except “no submissions” and so they will never know what I could do for them. As a fan that makes me very worried for their company. If they only take on new writers that they know personally or by already existing works they are limiting themselves in directions they can go with their stories. New ideas should never be left unexplored.

  21. Funny how they think ‘dark and brooding’ stands for ‘good’ and ‘mature’. Well, thanks God there is Marvel. I still think Iron Man was the better superhero movie as it mixed the fun and goofiness inherent to the genre with with some more serious notes. It had an passably intelligent script, great acting and solid film making.

  22. This is very awesome in a way you know?
    We have a “Dark Knight”!
    We have a “Watchmen”!
    And now we have Frank Miller making movies!
    This is like being in 1986 all over again!
    Only, now, NOW it is on the IMAX!

    I am genuinely interested to see if what happened with comics (at least superhero comics) in the 80s and 90s happens with the movies (at least with superhero movies).

    Will movie moguls emulate the comic industry and take away the completely WRONG lessons from these movies in pursuit of JUST ONE MORE DOLLAR and subject us to dark, broody, super violent comic book movies with no light or hope anywhere?
    I almost. ALMOST, kind of hope so!

    Come on! You JUST know EVERYBODY wants to see Superman’s eyes light up bright red and for him to say “Burn.”

    (AND! It’ll be a movie specifically without Alan Moore’s name on it!)

  23. Tommy Raiko says:

    “Come on! You JUST know EVERYBODY wants to see Superman’s eyes light up bright red and for him to say ‘Burn.'”

    Didn’t that already happen in an episode of the Justice League cartoon that adapted that classic Moore/Gibbons Superman vs. Mongul story? ;-)

  24. This is especially funny since Marvel (whose track record so far is much better than DC’s) made a good chunk o’ change this same year with the light-hearted IRON MAN, and in previous years with properties that essayed a good balance of light and dark (X-MEN, SPIDER-MAN).

  25. Alan Coil says:

    Marvel has only made one movie, Iron Man. Or does the latest Hulk movie count as a Marvel movie, too?

    X-Men and Spider-Man movies were not made by Marvel.

  26. “And here we have the problem with Hollywood in a nutshell. “The Dark Knight” was a hit because it was so different from everything else (a dark and brooding superhero movie) so now they want EVERYTHING else to be just like it.”

    As soon as I left the movie theater I knew this would be true. It’s what I am now calling “The Watchmen Effect”. Not to mention all the kids I’ve come across who think that the Joker is the guy to be like now. “That was so funny when he jammed that pencil in that guys eye.” Really! Let’s see how you feel if someone does that to you, or someone you love. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the movie, but we need to be a little more responsible about what we (and by we I mean Hollywood) portray as cool, in movies, while making the next ones.

  27. “Creatively, he sees exploring the evil side to characters as the key to unlocking some of Warner Bros.’ DC properties. ‘We’re going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it,’ he says. That goes for the company’s Superman franchise as well.”

    Batman is evil?

  28. Torsten Adair Says:
    “Let me define the cliche of superhero movies (monocliche?: …”

    You forgot one Torsten … In the past twenty years, there is the alarming trend where the hero and the villain (halfway through the film) must have a sit-down. The hero demands information, or promises the villain that he will be defeated. Villain makes glib remarks, angering hero, perhaps offers the hero a partnership. “We are alike, you and I.”

    Before the movie’s conclusion, the hero and villain will have another meaningless conversation, meant to evoke all manner of irony, drama, pathos, etc.

    Forget, DARK KNIGHT … it was a child’s movie, with little plot, overwrought angst, and maudlin speeches in place of dialogue. You’re better off renting DIRTY HARRY (1971) to see how a real police drama/action-adventure flick was done.

  29. tommy raiko says:

    “Marvel has only made one movie, Iron Man. Or does the latest Hulk movie count as a Marvel movie, too?

    X-Men and Spider-Man movies were not made by Marvel.”

    Still, there’s a point worth making in there someplace.

    Yes, DARK KNIGHT is a record-breaking money maker, but it seems that Warner guy attributes that to its dark, brooding tone, rather than any number of other factors–at least some of which would be difficult to impossible to replicate in another movie (audeince curiousity about a popular actor’s final performance isn’t something you can count on for any movie you make.)

    But if you chose to look at the broader category of successful movies-based-on-comic-books, you would take a look at Iron Man and Spider-Man and X-Men (regardless of what studio made them) and you would see a bunch of enviable successful money-makers. And I don’t think you could say that dark and brooding (is that the new “grim and gritty”) is necessarily the prevailing theme to those films. (And heck, SUPERMAN RETURNS did a lot of brooding and the Ang Lee HULK movie was plenty dark, and neither of those films seem to cry out for emulation…)

  30. OK, Mister Literal-to-a-Fault:

    “Both Marvel and Hollywood made good chunks o’change by portraying heroes who in some cases were light-hearted (IRON MAN) and heroes who alternated between light and dark (X-MEN, SPIDER-MAN).

    Happy?

  31. Joe Lawler says:

    How come I got two spam linkbacks and Neil got none?

  32. Torsten Adair says:

    Ah, thanks for that, Rich. That was just off the top of my head…

    For those who are interested in how modern American mythology works, go read Jewett and Lawrence’s “The Myth of the American Superhero”. Not only will you discover how “Little House on the Prairie” relates to “Unforgiven”, but you’ll be shocked to discover the fascist symbolism of Star Wars!

  33. “you’ll be shocked to discover the fascist symbolism of Star Wars!”

    Old stuff.

    DR FREDERIC WERTWINKLE: Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a fascist symbol out of a heroic text!

    (And the proper response OUGHT to be–)

    BUT THAT TRICK NEVER WORKS!

  34. Herr Mike says:

    Now that dark = good, will we be seeing gimmick covers for these movies next?

  35. I agree with Skye, Comics and Comic Book movies should have light and hope in the outcome but with the difference if u want to explore something unique do it in a different style but with the same message across

    Thats why we have that goal in our comics that we make and our going to made into big block movies too.

    K.v
    Vimanika Comics
    http://www.vimanika.com

Trackbacks

Speak Your Mind

*