Amidst the noise of heated DC versus Marvel debate across the internet, it's easy to forget that superhero movies aren't just made for adult fans, they're also big business among younger viewers. Comic book fans are a vocal group but, no matter how much we debate whether the DC Movie Universe is too dark or Marvel Studios needs better villains, a whole new generation is relishing in this superhero movie renaissance - enjoying timeless spirited debates (example: who would win in a battle between Batman versus Superman) without need to pick-apart every minor change.
It might sound obvious to moviegoers with kids but there's no question that a lot of fans have entirely forgotten they might not be priority one for studios looking to make money from comic book film franchises. However, one party is well-attuned to the value of kid viewers: licensing partners and merchandise manufacturers. As a result, it should come as little surprise that Warner Bros. is preparing a major push at the 2015 Licensing Expo - where they intend to unveil upcoming Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad merchandise and partnerships.
In a press release, three days ahead of the Licensing Expo 2015, Warner Bros. Consumer Products detailed some general (and a few specific) plans for merchandising their upcoming film slate - including Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad, and even the Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (starring Eddie Redmayne).
You can read the full press release on the next page, in which WBCP also revealed plans for other partnerships (including The Flash and Arrow TV series, Batman Unlimited, DC Super Friends, Looney Tunes, theme park attractions, and more) or read choice selections below.
As for what Batman V Superman fans can expect on store shelves, WBCP didn't give specifics (though expect more next week when the Las Vegas expo actually opens) but has once again partnered with Mattel - promising a range of collectibles toys for buyers both young and old (including their Movie Masters line).
Of course, Batman V Superman merchandise won't be limited to action figures, so here's the full rundown of goods from the press release:
"For the first time ever, fans will see Batman and Superman together in the theatrical event of the year in Warner Bros. Pictures’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and WBCP stands tall at Licensing Expo with a powerhouse roster of global partners to support as Batman and Superman fly into theaters on March 25, 2016. WBCP promises to deliver on fan anticipation and licensing opportunities as this heroic theatrical event continues to build momentum through its licensing and merchandising programs around the world. At the same time, the tentpole film will help drive the Batman and Superman franchises to new heights, offering licensees and retailers new opportunities to reach fans of all ages.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be supported by an impressive list of licensees, including global toy partner, Mattel, with a wide range toy line, including action figures, role-play, playsets and collectible figures, highlighted by the fan-favorite Movie Masters line. Also supporting Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be The LEGO Group, global construction partner; Rubie’s Costume Co. with a wide range of costume products based on the entire DC Comics portfolio, including Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; and Thinkway Toys for role play items. Additionally, apparel and accessories collections from Junkfood and Bioworld, and footwear from Converse, with a graphically unique inspired line for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; among many others will support the film."
As indicated, the press release only gives insight into the scope of Warner Bros.' licensing plan for Batman V Superman (rather than images or specific descriptions). Most of the partnerships are par-for-the-course with Warner Bros. comic book movies - toys, costumes, as well as t-shirts - and, at this point, the studio looks to have courted many of the same Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel manufacturers.
That said, who isn't interested to see those Batman V Superman Converse sneakers?
Anyone who was underwhelmed by details in the Batman V Superman lineup will be even less impressed with the Suicide Squad bullet point - which mostly expresses the studio's intention to make money off the super villain team-up rather than stating which partners they've already locked down.
As the power of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and DC Entertainment’s film portfolio shows its strength, WBCP will also offer a targeted licensing and merchandising program focusing on collectors and adult fans in support of Suicide Squad, the first film to feature many of DC Comics’ iconic Super-Villains as a team, including Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Boomerang, Katana and The Joker, as the second theatrical release from the Studio’s DC Comics film slate rolls out.
While merchandise for Batman V Superman will likely play it pretty safe, Suicide Squad is likely to target a slightly older set of buyers - even if the film still carriers a PG-13 rating. Given the whacky roster of evildoers set to star - coupled with the flat-out irreverent tone of the source comic book series, WBCP could deliver some genuinely fun merchandise for adult collectors - if they find the right merchandising partners.
Also of note, the press release makes a point to highlight the studio's interest in courting female fans by establishing the DC Super Hero Girls series - a multimedia platform that will feature iconic female DC heroes and villains as teenagers. While that might sound like a shameless marketing ploy, the announcement also comes with a sobering mission statement: "help build character and confidence, and empower girls to discover their true potential."
Check out WBCP's full explanation below:
In a revolutionary partnership, WBCP, DC Entertainment (DCE), Warner Bros. Animation (WBA) and Mattel have joined forces to launch the DC Super Hero Girls franchise, an exciting new universe of Super Heroic storytelling that will help build character and confidence, and empower girls to discover their true potential. Developed for girls aged 6-12, DC Super Hero Girls stars the female Super Heroes and Super-Villains of DC Comics during their formative years.
DC Super Hero Girls will take the girls space by storm when it launches this fall as it plays out across multiple entertainment content platforms and product categories to create an immersive world. Featuring a completely new artistic style and aesthetic, this unprecedented initiative will include digital content and TV specials, while made-for-videos, publishing, toys, apparel and other products will begin to roll out in 2016, providing opportunities for girls to interact with characters, learn about the storylines, and engage in customizable play.
After criticism over the lack of girl-friendly Avengers 2 products (specifically the sparse availability of Black Widow toys and merchandise), it's encouraging to see WBCP making an effort to include female fans - especially via storytelling that affords young girls the same opportunities for play, imagination, and character building, that male comic book fans have enjoyed for over half a century.
No doubt, the press release is only a vague tease of what WBCP has in the pipeline but, with less than one week (from the time of this writing), before Licensing Expo 2015, fans should have a much better idea - very soon- regarding what they might be spending money on in 2016.
Reminder: For readers who want to hear about WBCP's other licensing partnerships (including The Flash and Arrow TV series, Harry Potter, Looney Tunes, and more), click over to page 2 for the full press release.