It is generally held that DC Entertainment has no idea what it’s doing, according to nerds on the Internet. So much so that there was actually a detailed Cracked article about it just yesterday. It’s a lot of pessimism for a cinematic universe that barely exists, and it’s worth asking… is that pessimism warranted?
Nerds Vs. Reality
It’s bizarre not least because DC has done well, especially recently. The last two Batman movies made a billion dollars apiece and forced the Academy, despite their best efforts, to give it an acting Oscar. You’d think Man of Steel was chased out of theaters with spears considering how it’s the whipping boy on nerd blogs of what not to do with a comic book movie, but it grossed $116 million in its opening weekend on the way to a strong $291 million just in the US.
That last part is not insignificant, because it meant that, after people went out and got a look at the movie, they enthusiastically recommended it to their friends. Movies that people as a group don’t like are “front-loaded;” that is, they make the majority of their money in the first weekend. So critics hated it, nerds hated it… and audiences turned out in droves.
It’s not because people just mindlessly love Superman: Ask Bryan Singer how well that belief served him. And yet, there was such hostility online that we felt compelled to pick it apart a bit to defend the movie, one of those rare moments that Birch and I both agreed on a comic book movie. And what it may come down to is simply that what nerds want out of DC, and what the mainstream audience wants out of DC, are two entirely different things.
Nerds Vs. Audiences
It’s a common refrain that Marvel is “getting it right,” and DC should follow their lead, but first of all, DC Entertainment could not care less about what we think. Everybody griping about how terrible Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice is going to be is still showing up opening weekend.
Secondly, it’s easy to forget that DC, unlike Marvel, actually has a long history of making decent movies out of its comic books. DC’s parent company, Time Warner, actually turned out the first Marvel movie we could remotely call “successful” and “good” with a straight face, Blade.
Finally, it’s also easy to forget that nerds aren’t really the audience for these movies anymore. A good example of this is the X-Men franchise, which never cracked $500 million in total gross… until this summer, when it sprinted across the $750 million mark. The simple fact of the matter is, right now, audiences have a pretty big appetite for superheroes, no matter how they’re served. Something to remember, especially if Batman V. Superman is a massive hit.