If you asked anyone in the late seventies which comic power house ruled the cinemas the answer would have been easy: DC. With the help of Warner Bros they released Superman, starring Christopher Reeves, to great critical and commercial success. This continued through to the late 80s and early 90s with Tim Burton’s Batman films.
Then something happened.
Warner and DC turned the Batman movies over to director Joel Schumacher and it all went to hell.
Marvel then released the first X-Men film, with 20th Century Fox, and more or less took over the comic-to-film market. Other than Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, can you think of any other financially successful, or critically acclaimed DC/Warner films? I know there may be one or two, but nothing that really made a dent.
Superman Returns, while not a bomb, wasn’t very well liked and The Green Lantern was an all around failure.
Marvel, on the other hand, has had nothing but success (okay, the Fantastic Four films are an exception, and the two Hulk movies kind of under-performed as well, among a few other missteps ) with X-Men, Wolverine, as well as the movies leading up to The Avengers.
DC and Warner have taken notice and are moving forward with films based on some of their better known characters.
I already mentioned The Green Lantern being a bomb, but Warner/DC is currently deciding whether to move forward with Ryan Reynolds in the lead or to re-boot with another Lantern. It’s not like there’s shortage of them.
Wonder Woman now has a writer in Lantern scribe Michael Goldenberg and they even have Will Beal (Gangster Squad) working a Justice League script.
Superman is making another attempt next summer in the Nolan produced/Zack Snyder directed Man of Steel, and you know there’s a Batman reboot around the corner.
Here’s some other things DC is working on:
• On TV, the company launched programming block DC Nation on Cartoon Network with new “Green Lantern” and “Young Justice” animated series. CW is bringing a live-action take on Green Arrow to primetime in the fall with “Arrow,” which is notably darker than the net’s previous DC staple, “Smallville.”
• Direct-to-homevid titles have sold well, with “Superman vs. The Elite” and “Flashpoint” forthcoming.
• Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has scored with its dark and gritty “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Batman: Arkham City” games, as well as its lighter, funnier “Lego: Batman” titles. WBIE used this week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo videogame confab to unveil fighting game “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” featuring DC’s heroes and villains, and a “Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition” for the new Nintendo Wii U console, out this fall.
• Meanwhile, Warner Bros. Consumer Products shelled out considerable coin to expand its rights to the classic 1960s “Batman” TV series to launch new lines of merchandise featuring the show’s characters, while brokering deals to unleash a slew of products around next summer’s Superman actioner, “Man of Steel,” which the studio hopes will launch a new franchise.
• And its comic book division relaunched all of its 52 books last year, with new storylines and art, to boost sales and attract a new readership, especially through digital platforms.
What’s this all mean? If you ask me it means DC/Warner have finally realized they need to get on the ball and give Marvel some competition. They have a lot of properties and really haven’t cashed in on anything other than Batman.
What do you think? Do you like DC’s new aggressive approach?