Yesterday we found out that Warner Bros. has created DC Entertainment Inc. (DCE) to better expand the DC Comics into a multimedia brand of steel . Now comes the inevitable question of “What’s the game plan?”
MTV Splash Page posted a nice piece declaring which DC properties should be put on fast-track under the DCE banner, and this being Friday and all, I thought I’d once again do a little call-and-response on the topic (I now consider Splash Page‘s Josh Wigler to be something of a pen-pal).
So in response to the call, here’s my take on the DC Entertainment venture and what paths it should be considering… BIGGER PICTURE BUSINESS
DC Entertainment Inc. President Diane Nelson has already been grilled by the press and thick-skinned exec has been pretty forthright with her opinions. As she told The Wrap earlier this week:
“…I’m the first one to admit, I’m not by my nature a comic fan. It’s not what I’m bringing to the party. We have so many experts who will remain the cornerstone of DC Entertainment. What I bring to the party is a skill at moving properties and brands through Time Warner as a company… additionally it will be about how invested our content distribution is in the DC library. If our businesses feel that they have greater access and enthusiasm for new characters to incubate.”
Now some people are going to read that quote and worry that Time Warner is going to “corporatize” (read: taint) their favorite DC properties. I’m going to keep in mind that Nelson is the same lady who helped transform Harry Potter from a lucrative book franchise into a multimedia/merchandising empire, loved by both Potter devotees and newcomers who just know the films. Nelson understands how to take what is at the resonating core of a character and/or story and fit it into the bigger profit picture.
For DC Superheroes, I suspect Nelson aims to give us more Dark Knight quality films and Arkham Asylum video games (read: ventures which transform the core appeal of the properties into commercial appeal), and fewer Catwoman disasters (read: failed ventures that tarnish both the core and commercial viability of the properties). And I see no reason at this point why she’d fail at the task.
DOING THINGS THE MARVEL WAY
No, I don’t want DC Entertainment to try to be the second coming of Marvel Studios, however, the latter did set an interesting precedent by linking all their Avengers related films – Captain America, Iron Man, Thor – in one shared continuity, complete with cinematic cameo crossovers.
Should Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe be disrupted for the sake of a Superman cameo? No. Should The Green Lantern maybe feature an appearance from Supes or (better yet) The Flash? Absolutely. And what would be the reasoning behind doing so? Remember a little project called Justice League that DC/WB tried and failed and failed and failed to get off the ground awhile back? If you want to expand your brand, getting your heroes onscreen together where everybody can revel in them is a great way to do it.
Warner Bros., please remember that you are not Disney. While Marvel Studios may have set the bar with crossover continuity, it’s always irked me that the studio has vowed to keep things on the PG-13 side of the fence. Why do I find that call so irksome? Because there has always been plenty of room for the Marvel Universe to branch out into other genres. Look at Blade: R-rated, box office smash, action/horror flick. If any of you read the Marvel “Midnight Sons” comic books back in the 90s like I did, then you’re probably STILL wondering where your dark, horror-themed versions of Ghost Rider, Doctor Strange or Morbius are. Well, the answer to that is Marvel sold them off into the fumbling hands of third-party studios, which is why we end up with crap like Punisher: War Zone.
DC Entertainment has the chance (and freedom) to correct this misstep on Marvel’s part. DC Comics was ahead of the pack in going more adult-themed in the 80s and 90s, bringing in writers like Alan Moore, Frank Miller and creating a more adult-themed branch of their Universe, DC Vertigo. With adult-themed characters like Deadman, The Losers, Lobo and Jonah Hex headed for the big screen, DC/WB is showing some sign of knowing how to fit their properties into other cinematic slots besides “superhero movie,” but there are so many other characters (The Spectre (above), The Atom, Animal Man, Hawkman) who could grow to be big names if placed in the proper lanes (horror, sci-fi, sci-fi/fantasy). DCE, play the field in terms of genre and demographic, it’ll work for you.
Remember that Robin version of Smallville, “The Graysons” that almost was?
Want to get some of your lesser-known (or cinematic dead end) characters into the limelight, DCE? Well then, look no further than the example of Smallville. If the CW hadn’t jerked their knee so soon, that Aquaman TV show might’ve found its audience and formed a nice block of DC/WB tweener TV – but hey, that window is still open. Smallville spin-offs or new shows that tell stripped-down stories of some of the DC Universe’s lesser-known heroes? DCE, don’t be afraid of the small screen: if there is a hero or team (Robin, Legion of Superheroes) that you can fit into a viable TV market, then by all means go there.
TEST WATERS ON THE PAGE
DCE has DC Comics snug under its ribcage, close to its heart. Those comic book writers, they’re the guys who are keep these characters alive (or at least back from the dead) every day of every year of every decade. And since this universe was born, and continues to grow on the page, when a comic book storyline tests well, or becomes a runaway success, then the whole DCE is rewarded with an opportunity.
DCE, keep an eye on your comic book division and let the writers who’ve proven they know this world best (See: Geoff Johns), do what they do best, and observe the resulting fan reaction to see where the gold nuggets might lie. The idea of this DCE venture is a more cohesive and streamlined DC/WB, and nothing is better than mining ideas from the mass focus group you already cater to – except maybe taking the hit concept you’ve already sold them and re-selling it to them in a different package (movie, TV, Video game). That almost guarantees – to quote In Living Color – “Mo Money! Mo Money! Mo Money!”
Okay, so there are a few possibilities I’ve thrown out there for the future of DC Entertainment Inc. Where do you think the company needs to set it sights first (more popular film franchises? Another hit TV show? Better video game adaptations)? And which characters or properties would you like to see developed in which formats?
Let us know in the comments.
Source: Our Pen-Pal, MTV Splash Page