There is no doubt that DC Comics and Warner Bros. are trying to emulate the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Warner and DC have been making superhero movies for years now, but it has taken until now for the possibility of a combined universe to come to fruition. You almost have to point to Marvel and their success with The Avengers.
But with this new strategy from DC Comics regarding their film universe, does this mean we could see the same kind of influence from the comics world on the movies? It’s always been a factor in the Batman series, from Adam West’s campiness to the brooding reality of Christian Bale. So much that I doubt we’d have the Batman that’s been so successful on the screen if not for the source material.
The same can’t be said for Superman. It can’t be said for Green Lantern either. I can’t really say it for any of the other attempts. One of the main complaints about Man of Steel was that it wasn’t the Superman people had come to know. Mark Waid in particular took exception with what he saw on the screen, comparing it to what he put on the page in series like Superman: Birthright.
So what does the future hold for DC Comics at the box office? Regardless of past indifference to the source material, I believe there will be more of a connection to the printed work this time around. I talked about how Marvel was combining it all and finding success, so it’s only right that DC would follow suit.
Also take into account the leaked images and details we’ve already seen. This Batman is one that is closer to how he appears on the page than any that have come before. The characters are appearing left and right. A universe is growing together. The bigger it gets means it’s going to need something to lean on.
So like I did for Marvel, we’d take a look at the future DC Comics films and rank them based on their source material. Hopefully we can pull out something good and hope for the best in the future. They’re ranked from worst to best in terms of anticipation based solely on the source material.
Of course we could always get another Green Lantern and reboot it all in the near future. Doesn’t mean we can’t take a moment and talk comics.
Wonder Woman represents a problem that a lot of the DC Comics characters do. She is far more recognizable for her TV credits than her comic book work. It’s hard to shed the image of Linda Carter when you’re talking about Wonder Woman than to cite a specific story that really sets her apart.
Not to mention that a lot of more memorable stories have happened in recent years, from the 1980s forward. Following Crisis On Infinite Earths, George Perez provided a classic reboot of the character that’s usually mentioned in the same breath as John Byrne’s run on Man of Steel with Superman.
DC Comics was a mess and is still a mess for the most part. The New 52 has tried to reinvigorate what is there, but it’s so hard to get all the knots out. That could be why there hasn’t been as much success at the theater beyond Batman and Superman.
The big part about Wonder Woman and why she is such an important character is her status as a strong female lead. She’s included in the holy trinity of DC characters and for good reason. She has to be included for that alone, a fact established by years of comics.
Jerry Ordway’s Power Of Shazam series from the 90s is a good example of what you can achieve with Captain Marvel. The New 52 version helps bring the mystical nature of the character to the forefront and remove the stigma that he’s nothing more than a Superman clone.
Both stories could serve to create a strong Shazam movie, basically turning him into the DC version of Thor if they are lucky. I always thought Marvel used to fly under the radar, but held a lot of cool characteristics that younger loved for some reason. Kingdom Come probably helped cement that a bit, showing him as an almost equal of Superman. Could that be a sight to see on the big screen? Payback for all that destruction in Man of Steel? We’ll have to see.
The idea that they would adapt Neil Gaiman’s Sandman onto the big screen is frightening. Not only is the series daunting and expansive with characters, but it just seems to not lend itself to a full blown adaptation. If anything, I would see it as a TV series. Something that lends itself more to the comic book narrative.
Sadly I don’t think we’ll get that. I think we’ll get the half assed attempt that smells like a Tim Burton fart gone bad. It doesn’t even really fit in with the scheme of the other movies, so that right there lends itself to trouble. Not that I would want it to necessarily, but having something to lean on is usually a safer bet than giving Hollywood free reign over a classic work. It isn’t like you can make Watchmen out of this, considering all the volumes and side works included.
I just can’t see this going well at all. I’m certain I’m very negative, but this is just a bad idea. Prove me wrong, I say.
Probably the most controversial move that DC is making is throwing Justice League out there as soon as they can. We don’t know if it’s going to work, but once again we have the Marvel blueprint to base it on. Is that fair? No. But it is all we really have to go by.
Luckily, there’s a lot of great Justice League tales to go with and a wealth of influence from past creators. I could see it having a bizarro-Avengers effect on the DC Universe, creating interest in these characters that will springboard them off into their own movies. It could happen.
At least there’s the possibility that the comics could have an effect on them. I tend to view Grant Morrison’s entire JLA run as one big cluster of awesome ideas in a crazy nutty coating, but they’re the most popular version of the team. The New 52 has certainly done its best to ensure that Justice League is one of their flagship titles (aside from Batman). And I don’t think you can discount those fantastic team stories from the 70s. Goofy fun that featured a variety of heroes in and out of the door.
Clearly I think JLA should be more of the diagram for how this team should act, giving each their own little persona to shine with, while keeping together the point that this is indeed a team and not just Batman with some other people. And if the New 52 influence is there, I have to give it a lot of credit for at least trying to make Aquaman look bad ass. It took a while, but I think he’s close to being there.
Batman V. Superman
World’s Finest has been around for ages. When you can get your two flagship characters together anywhere, it’s bound to sell at least a few copies. The problem with those old stories is how absolutely silly they are. They are a testament to the trouble brewing within DC Comics during the 50s and 60s, where continuity took a back seat to things like Bat-Mite and the Super Pets.
Modern day views them a little different, always trying to put them at odds while keeping them best friends. I think two modern meetings really help set the stage for what we will see in this movie, mainly The Dark Knight Returns, which is a mistake, and Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee.
You can point to Superman/Batman or the more recent Grant Morrison-led team-up series, but I think we’re going to be looking at the previous two as more of an influence than anything. Hush features a great fight between the two where they are at odds because of the influence of Poison Ivy on Superman.
It shows Batman not fully at odds with Superman, but willing to deal with him when forced to. It doesn’t have the revolutionary undertones of The Dark Knight Returns and it still allows for some sort of relationship after the fact. Frank Miller was basically telling the last Batman tale with DKR and I think it shouldn’t have much influence past Superman fights Batman a little. Hush makes more sense and you could easily swap Lex Luthor in for Poison Ivy, creating a puppet master behind the scenes.
Man Of Steel
That leads to the second Man of Steel movie. The thing I always liked about the first one is how Superman isn’t perfect and isn’t fully the guy we know yet. I personally felt that added to it before taking it away like Kevin Costner in a tornado.
I think this would be the perfect time to call back to Joe Kelly’s modern classic Superman tale “What’s So Funny About Truth Justice And The American Way?” By the time this movie comes out, we will have had a Justice League movie. There will be an establishment of other super powered individuals. Superman should also know what he stands for at this point in the movie timeline.
Whip out The Elite or some version of them. Have them running around and causing trouble in the name of Superman from the first movie. Destroying buildings, not caring about human life, and killing. Killing is the most important part. Superman has killed in this universe. He created a dangerous precedent. Murder is OK if it justifies the means.
I say this would take naysayers head on and create a Superman movie that truly gets to the essence of the character and why he seems to live on for all of these years.
The Flash / Green Lantern
So we have The Flash TV show and I am not sure how that is going to fit in with the rest of the DC movie universe. I know Smallville certainly doesn’t fit anymore and I would peg them as being in the same continuity, meaning we’ll get a brand new Flash.
I also can’t see them going back to their existing Green Lantern film to try and create something from it. I think this will spark a new version too. But where do you go from there? Dan already pointed out that the classic comic book team-up is Green Lantern and Green Arrow, but he’s got his own show too.
There are examples of making them a good team, mostly in the pages of JLA and in The Brave And The Bold mini-series from the late 90s. You might see something spark between the two during the Justice League movie, but it’s a powder keg really.
The only reason I have them ranked here is because I think Flash is one of the best characters DC has to offer outside of the big three. He deserves more.
And the final one is an easy one. What do you do with a new Batman movie? Go back to the well. We’ve had a realistic Batman trilogy and we’ve had a silly, campy one. Give me the comic book version we’ve always wanted. Tell the stories that sell the comics and live on in trade paperbacks.
No need to just pick and choose, just start creating. I think the greatness is already there if they are willing to tap it. The Long Halloween, Venom, The Cult, The Killing Joke, any number of stories from The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told. Just go for it.
I will add that the last thing we need is another origin story. You’re giving us a fully formed Batman in Batman v. Superman, so please don’t backwards.