09 April, 2014

Hey Marvel, It's DC Calling

Okay, everyone check your capes at the door.
There’s a lot happening in the Super Hero Movie World at the moment.  So this latest “but I digress” of mine will try and touch on a little of it.  At least a couple things that struck me recently.  
To start, let’s go back to 2008 when Kevin Feige and John Favreau ushered in the modern Super Hero revolution with ‘Iron Man.’  Sure, we can go back to 2002 when Sam Raimi gave us his first ‘Spider-Man’ – and I loved that movie – but I’m touching more on the non-Spidey (and non-X-Men) lore.  Bear with me.
With the ‘Iron Man,’ ‘Captain America’ and ‘Thor’ series – culminating in an ‘Avengers’ series – it seemed Marvel had theatres all locked up in their favor.  But then a little movie called ‘Man Of Steel’ flew out of the Warner/DC world and proved they were still in the game.  Now with ‘Batman Vs. Superman’ on the way – and God I really hope they change that title – we can’t help but ask … what’s next?
It’s been confirmed that Marvel's “Untitled Movie being released 6 May, 2016” will be ‘Captain America 3.’  Of course, that means Warner Bros will have to decide if they’ll flinch on their release date.  Well, we have a response from the studio.  Dan Fellman (WB President of Domestic Distribution) said to Bloomberg News:
            “It doesn’t make a lot of sense for two huge superhero films to open on the same date but there is a lot of time between now and [6 May, 2016].  However, at this time, we are not considering a change of date for [‘Batman Vs. Superman’].”
PS, am I the only one pleading with anyone involved that they come up with a better title than ‘Batman Vs. Superman?’  Our “world’s finest” deserve better.  Sorry, moving on again …
This “date issue” sounds like a challenge to me.  It’s hard to tell if Marvel is over-confident after ‘Cap 2’s’ successful opening weekend, or if Warner Bros is simply prepared to step-up and face the opposition.  Playing “who’s got the bigger” aside, keeping the same release date is at least a two-fold issue.  First, it will (might) determine which comic label fans are siding with;  but, second, it could also backfire and diminish potential profits for both studios since they – those mega-minded suits in their ivory towers – rely so heavily on opening weekend box office performance.  (Wait, you mean they’re not as interested in which is a better story?  Might resonate with the audience, might have longevity?  Shame on you.  And, sure, go ahead and insert a “performance anxiety” joke here.  I thank you.) 
Sorry, quick side-note.  Remember in 1985 when ‘Back To The Future’ – an unquestioned hit – made $12 Million opening weekend?  Today that’s an unquestioned flop.  (Sure, there are the adjusted numbers, and it would eventually make $200 Million and garner four Oscar nominations, but you see what I mean.)  Those ivory tower suits really are just interested in “who’s got the bigger” opening weekend.  Exhibition tallies aside – and if you don't think exhibitors control this business, well, sorry – I will say that we haven’t seen an opening weekend with two big contenders like this in a long time;  and I am excited about it.
But let’s continue the line of thinking.  There’s no secret that Kevin Feige has ushered in a “golden era” of Super Hero Cinema.  Great movies?  Yes.  That link?  Yes.  That overlap into TV (ABC’s ‘Agents Of SHIELD’)?  The yes’s go on and on.  Then there’s “Phase 2,” from ‘Iron Man 3’ through ‘The Avengers 2.'  And we already know 'Ant Man' and ‘Cap 3’ and and and are coming.  Is Mr. Feige’s finger on the pulse?  Yes.  And please, sir, don’t take it off.  (PS, kudos to Disney in their buyout of Marvel for not interfering with him.  But that’s an entirely other adventure.)
So what’s next?  

That is, what is DC’s response? 
Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not here to pedestal Marvel and smack DC.  I loves me Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman as much as anyone.  But ever since ‘Man Of Steel’ ushered in the new DC super hero world, we can’t help but anticipate a “grand scale plan” of theirs that would put in place for their heroes as Marvel has done.  Now, to be fair, DC is working from a different starting point than Marvel did;  but we have to assume there will be multiple standalone movies followed by a ‘Justice League’-esque mega-movie a la ‘The Avengers.'  I mean, right?  Or do you think they're already trying to capitalize-on by putting Bats and Supes in the same -- next -- movie?    
So, then ... what’s next?
Well, IGN asked that very question as well;  specifically of David S. Goyer – PS, no slouch this guy;  he was only involved in “The Dark Knight Trilogy” and ‘Man Of Steel’ – and he said:
            “I mean, it's too early.  I know that Warner Bros would love to make their universe more cohesive.  There have been a lot of general conversations about that, but it's really, really early.  I'm not sure.  Marvel has had enormous success, but I'm not sure that everybody should try to emulate them either.  It's just been vague conversations so far.”

So the question becomes whether Warner Bros is planning to unite their big screen features, which seems likely with Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in ‘Batman Vs. Superman’ as well as Dwayne Johnson’s commitment [to DC] in “an unspecified superhero role.”  And they already have television properties to work into their canon.  Currently, The CW airs the fan-favorite ‘Arrow’ and plans to launch ‘The Flash’ this Autumn.  And Fox will air the James Gordon-centric "Batman origin series" ‘Gotham.’  Marvel Emulation aside – call it whatever you want – DC is starting to make its own mark.

In the end, Warner Bros / DC is going to do whatever they can to avoid comparison to Marvel, but they’d be kryptonite not to at least take into consideration what’s made Marvel such a success.  Not to mention – and believe me this is no small thing – if they do play their cards right, they hold one big one-up on Marvel in that all their characters fall under one studio.

So we may still be a bit away from --

-- but who knows?  That’s the great thing about pow! crash! aieee! comic books.
There’s always “what’s next?!”

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