Comic-Con 2014 is here (at the time of this writing) and amidst a long list of confirmed announcements, fans around the world are keeping a close eye on Hall H for surprises. We put together our own list of things we’re hoping to see at this year’s event – some of which are more likely than others. While opinions differ, there’s no doubt that the Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios panels are at the top of many fans’ lists for most-anticipated SDCC 2014 panels. Both events are expected to include exciting reveals – though exactly what we’ll see remains a mystery. Following the news that Marvel has added yet another film to their slate (targeting a May 2018 release), passionate DC enthusiasts are more eager than ever to discover whether a previously rumored list of Justice League universe movies is accurate.
Many fans expect Warner Bros. to come clean about their plans this Saturday in Hall H (including confirmation of recent casting reports) – though there is no guarantee that DC will be a major focus of the panel. Still, regardless of what is or is not unveiled, we can be sure that the Internet will provide a wide range of opinions. Batman V Superman alone has resulted in more memes, online petitions, and contentious debate than most superhero movie genre installments – so much that fan-favorite DC Comics writers and artists have started offering their thoughts on how their characters should be adapted to film.
This time Variety caught up with DC Comics’ Co-Publisher Jim Lee (the man behind a number of beloved Superman, Batman, and Justice League comic series) who believes that Zack Snyder is going to blow viewers away with Batman V Superman and Justice League. Lee has sympathy for skeptical fans but maintains that Snyder is a knowledgable comic book lover – and uniquely positioned to bring DC’s heroes to the big screen:
“Zack is a comic book fan and draws inspiration from the comics. He doesn’t need to be given advice. He’s a talented filmmaker. He’s a super stylized visualist. He’ll do stuff no one has ever done with the caped crusader and blow everyone away. He knows how to take the sensibility of comic books and do what other filmmakers don’t know how to do.”
Lee goes on to assert that the film medium has different challenges (and more limitations) than ongoing comic book series, claiming that movie adaptations should not be “literal translations” – a point that is hotly debated whenever a controversial piece of superhero movie news is reported (example: the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor):
“I know a lot of filmmakers will look at the source material and what we capture on paper and translate that entirely onto film, but it shouldn’t be a literal translation of the comic books themselves. We work in a medium that has no end. A film should have a beginning, middle and end and resolution until the next one comes out. We’re telling a story every single month. They’re different sensibilities.”
Of course, most fans do not expect entirely literal translations – though just how much a filmmaker can alter an iconic character varies from person to person. Some DC fans thoroughly enjoyed Snyder’s modern Superman movie, Man of Steel, while others felt that certain aspects of the portrayal were an outright violation of what makes the character Superman (as opposed to a generic super-powered hero).
So, what differentiates adaptation from translation or violation? Ultimately, it’s very hard to produce a traceable set of guidelines and, understandably, the approach varies from character to character – especially as studios begin to expand their comic book movie offerings into other genres. In most cases, fans simply know when a filmmaker strikes the right balance – because the respective cinematic experience manages to capture the feel of the headlining characters. Nevertheless, as we’ve pointed out on multiple occasions, most characters have seen dramatic changes (over the decades) and one person’s Batman might not satisfy another fan’s sensibilities.
Sure, there are certain elements of Batman and Superman (or any other superhero character) that are important to who they are but, as Lee suggests, filmmaking often requires some liberties – in order to deliver satisfying resolution (within the context of a different storytelling medium). Hopefully, with a full-on shared universe set to unfold in the coming years, Snyder and other DC comic movie directors will have the room to tell quality (and faithful) narratives that both movie and longtime book fans can enjoy.
As for what control Lee has over the DC movie universe, he suggest that he’s mostly just geeking out like the rest of us:
“I’m in charge of publishing. My level of involvement is gasping and oohing when I see the footage and clapping when the DC logo comes on at the beginning.”
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more updates on Batman V Superman, the larger DC Comics shared universe, as well as what’s in store for fans at Comic-Con 2014.
Batman V Superman is scheduled to hit theaters on May 6, 2016 with Justice League set to follow some time in the future.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for any future updates on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.