Friday, March 25, 2011

The Geek Chorus: DC Needs to Grow a Pair

Klaatu Barada Nikto, everybody! Joshua the Anarchist here. Like most attention-hogging internet…person-types, I often have many a thought pop through my geeky little brain. And due to the aforementioned attention hogging, I can’t bear the thought of not forced my crazy stream of conciseness on the nearest unsuspecting ear. Unfortunately, since 140 characters have become unsuitable to contain my uncensored madness, I had to seek out an alternate means of venting. And since ripping off better and more successful reviewers than me worked out so well on youtube, I figured I’d swip another concept from MovieBob and create my own nerd soapbox column. So now, whenever I feel that old itch returning, I’ll resist the urge to kill again, and instead give you all a terrifying inside peek into the inner workings of my brain.

So to start off, let’s talk about an old buddy we all know, if not love: DC Comics. DC, you are awesome…even if you’re initials are a bit redundant (DC actually stands for "Detective Comics"). I have an infatuation with you that Nintendo fanboys would call overzealous. You’re one of those constants in the world that makes life a little less pointless. You practically invented the comic book superhero as we know it today. And while some may complain that your characters don’t change or evolve much, I see it as one of your strengths. Your classic characters are constant, they’re always there with new stories to tell. You’re a lasting standard in the comic world, and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. So why the fuck are you so scared?

Look, thanks to Bruce Timm you’ve successfully kicked Marvel’s ass consistently in the animated series department, admittedly not a hard thing to do since Marvel has a habit of canceling every good show they make. You’ve even dominated them in the arena of live action TV, for whatever that’s worth (actually, this one was pretty awesome). But let’s face it: In the cinema, Marvel is making you their bitch. The box office take of The Dark Knight doesn’t change that. No matter how much money Batman makes, having only one successful superhero movie franchise to your name is pathetic, and it needs to change.

But in order to fix this problem we need to address the core reason why Marvel has had a steady stream of new adaptation’s coming out in the past decade, and you’ve spent the last twenty years trying to get Superman & Wonder Woman off the ground. Marvel gets results because they take risks, and you don’t. Remember, these were the guys that had the balls back in the 90’s to make a Howard the Duck movie! And even though that particular gamble didn’t pay off too well, did they give up? Fuck, no! And now they have multiple adaptation’s, if not outright franchises, of most of their flagship characters, with the remaining well on their way.

Now admittedly they did play it safe at first with Bryan Singer’s self-hating X-men series (the black leather, oh God the black leather!!), but as time has gone on they’ve gotten bolder & bolder. Was it a big risk when they put Thor’s hammer at the end of Iron Man 2? You bet your ass it was, because now they’ve made a concrete connection between Iron Man’s world of earth-bold science fiction and an extra-dimensional universe of magic and ancient Gods. They’re even seriously considering using the Mandarin for Iron Man 3, a character who’s totally antithetical to everything the villain’s have been so far. Forget being a magic-based character in a sci-fi series, he’s a borderline-racist old school Yellow Peril sorcerer/mad scientist with a pet dragon! Does that sound like an insane business move to you? Of course it does, but they’re doing it anyway! Even if it doesn’t pay off, at least they had the courage to try. And to top this all off, they’ve promised to take all these vastly different characters from vastly different settings, and lump them all into one movie. What…colossal…balls.

DC, you need a set of colossal balls of your own if you ever want to get anywhere in the movie industry. Admittedly you’ve been pretty good about turning out adaptions of noncanon characters outside of your universe, but that’s not cutting it. You need to start building up the DC movie universe, and to do that, you’re going to have to take a few risks. Because right now, you’re basic business plan seems to consist of cowering in the closet, terrified that the movie-going public will find your non-Batman flagship characters to be silly, or unrealistic. DC, grow a fucking spine already. Have you forgotten who you are? You practically invented this genre! You and most of your core character have been household names for decades. Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman; Everyone knows they’re names; everyone knows their costumes. Even if people laugh and make the usual ignorant jokes about how “lame” Aquaman is, do you think that means they wouldn’t see the movie? Fuck, no! Infamy is just a profitable as fame, guys. Even if it’s only out of curiosity, believe me, Aquaman would more than make his money back. Nobody thinks movies like The Smurfs is gonna be good either, but it's still gonna to make a profit, guaranteed. Financially speaking, guys, it’ll be pretty hard for you to fail.

But beyond just having the gumption to get these projects going, you need to stop stressing out about how “unrealistic” your characters are. Not every superhero movie needs to go the Batman Begins approach of explaining every little detail. Once again, that’s not what you built your company on. You’re DC! Larger-than-life is what you do! We don’t love your characters because they’re scientifically plausible. We love them because they’re epic and out there! To quote Frank Miller, "I don't need to see sweat patches under Superman's arms, I want to see him fly". We don’t care that real people can’t fly, or run faster than the speed of light. We don’t care that Atlantis isn’t a real place, or that there is no such thing as Amazons. We come to you to get away from reality! We want outlandish, flamboyant superhero escapism. And so does the movie-going public, whether they’ve read the comics or not.

Let’s put it this why. You know why the entire civilized world justifiably loves Spider-man? I’ll give you a hint: It’s not because he’s realistic. Remember, “realistic” & “relatable” are not the same thing. Sure, the idea of a radioactive spider-bite turning someone into a superhuman acrobat is ridiculous. But people go with it because the person these implausible things are happening to is likable and relatable. Batman has been many things, but relatable has never been one of them. Hell, Superman may be arguably a little more straight-laced than you’re average schmoe, but an idealistic, somewhat naive farm boy is far more relatable than a super-scientist/ninja/detective who’s mastered every combat style, science, and language known to man, yet still has the mental wherewithal to be the a playboy, socialite and master of disguise, in addition to having more money than God. Face it, guys: Batman is a Mary Sue. He’s never wrong, he never makes mistakes. Nobody can relate to that, no matter how “realistic” his environment might be.

Well, fortunately for DC, it’s looking like they might be starting to learn their lesson. The new Green Lantern trailer, (‘bout fucking time) looks great despite some spotty CGI, but better yet, it isn’t ashamed to show what it is. It made the wise decision to stand up and boldly proclaim that this new movie hero fights giant-headed supervillains in outer space with a ring that makes giant fists to punch people. Awesome. Maybe they’ve finally figured out that audiences will accept any out-there concept you throw at them as long as you ground it with relatable characters.

But if so, this has to keep up. You’re off to a good start, DC, but you need to follow through on this. If Green Lantern is what it looks like and does well, this could be a new beginning for you. Despite what the whiners have to say, you made a very good choice hiring Zack Snyder to make the new Superman. A more action oriented Man of Steel is really what you need at this point. Now if you could just drop this stupid idea of a Wonder Woman TV show and get the movie back on track, we’ll be getting somewhere. Maybe someday we can actually think seriously about getting a Justice League or World’s Finest movie off the ground? Maybe?

But seriously DC, it’s time to man the fuck up. This business is about risks. Take a few, or you’ll never get anywhere. You may end up with a few flops, shit happens. But if you keep at it, it’ll pay off in the long run.

P.S. Oh, one last thing. Just in case you decide to stick with your asinine business plan of “realistic” superheroes, let me at least ask this: why the fuck are you still not talking about a Question movie? I mean, shouldn’t that be a no-brainer? The guy’s a cult favorite who’s simultaneously more realistic and more relatable than Batman has EVER been! Look, obscurity didn’t stop you from making Jonah Hex, so make this happen already! Just don’t hire some Pixar reject to direct it this time. Or Megan Fox. Seriously. No Megan Fox.

1 comment:

Bryan C. said...

While you bring up good points, you also need to remember than Marvel was able to take some of their risks after the screwed up and licensed out a good portion of their movies. Only then did they go out to make their own studio for the movies.

DC has been owned by Warner Brothers for a while and even if DC ran up to them with a good idea. They had finale say and most of the time was no. Now though DC has been trying to get into the door with DC Entertainment section. So it is an upwards battle for them.