I hate to break it to you, but DC sucks at making movies. We can just admit that. It’s OK if you love Batman — he’s a great guy, and Christopher Nolan’s trilogy is badass. It’s also indicative of why DC sucks at making movies. They pulled that trilogy out of their ass and then had the unmitigated gall to release Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice afterward. That would be like Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel one week and then painting a giant dick on the side of a bus the next week. Sure, you think the dick is amusing, but it’s not of the same caliber.
Batman V Superman was supposed to be the setup to the DC Universe’s answer to Marvel. The Justice League is on the way to rival the Avengers, and, soon, the two companies will be on equal footing. But, that’s never going to happen — not if DC keeps doing everything they’ve always done. I could fix it for them, but they won’t listen to me. So, let me just explain it to you, so we can be smug fanboys the next time one of their movies sucks a big one.
#5. Stop, Stop Everything
After Batman V Superman, DC’s release schedule includes Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, The Justice League Part One, The Flash, Aquaman, another Batman movie, Shazam!, Justice League: Part Two, and Cyborg. There’s more than that, but it’s off-label shit. This is basically the DC version of Marvel and its The Avengers setup. They need to turn all that shit off, right now.
One week after the release of Batman V Superman, reports were saying Suicide Squad was under going reshoots to add more humor and lightness. Basically, they realized why Batman V Superman sucked, and Suicide Squad sucks in the exact same way, so they want to fix it. Good luck, reshoots that try to completely change the tone of a film always work.
Especially on Will Smith movies …
Let’s go back in time a minute. The 1978 film Superman managed a solid three sequels, even though part four may be one of the worst movies ever made. This happens. Look at the Batman films, which started in 1989. The fourth one in that series is also one of the worst movies ever made. That takes us all the way to 1997 — eight DC movies covering two characters.
In 1998, Marvel released Blade, starring Wesley Snipes. Let’s consider this the start of Marvel’s foray into proper filmmaking. They had earlier films, but they aren’t worth mentioning. Blade was a real, adult-type movie: well-made, sleek, and chock-full of action. Since then, Marvel has released 38 films, all the way up to Captain America: Civil War. DC, including those original eight Batman and Superman films, have released 23 films. Films that include two Swamp Thing movies, Steel, Catwoman, Jonah Hex, Green Lantern, and some other winners. So, with an extra two decades, we got Jonah Hex from DC.
It did pull off one incredible cinematic feat: making Michael Fassbender forgettable.
Obviously, Marvel isn’t perfect — three abysmal Fantastic Four movies, Man-Thing, which no one has ever seen, Elektra, and Daredevil all sucked hard, too. But, they still released 15 more films than DC, and, apart from films centered on Spider-Man, none of them were the same story over and over again like those about Superman and Batman.
Marvel’s first serious release was Blade. Blade! Who has ever read that comic? No one. But, it worked really well on film, and it was R-rated, too. Marvel took a risk, while DC continued to shit in a shoe by telling us where Superman comes from and that Batman has a cave. No shit, son.
Batman And Robin starts with Commissioner Gordon
saying, “We have a new villain.” So, it was, somehow, actually a step up.
When DC finally tried to diversify its portfolio with serious films, it was giving us Green Lantern, and that was in 2011. Sure, it had tried a few Vertigo titles in the past, but those were never going to be a part of the Universe proper. Constantine was never going to meet Batman, and neither was V or Dr. Manhattan. But, the Green Lantern could have — if someone turned down the green neon lights a little. Instead, that movie sucked like a forgotten Fantastic Four script.
DC has proven it can’t produce movies people want to see on a consistent basis. The Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, Tim Burton’s Batman, and the original Superman all went over well. And that was about it. Stop it, DC. Just stop.
#4. Shift Gears
We can’t prevent Suicide Squad at this point, and we’ll just put a pin in Wonder Woman because they just finished filming recently, and it’s likely nothing can be done there either. So, let’s dig deeper.
Remember, Marvel jumped in with Blade. The next two big hits they had were with X-Men and Spider-Man. DC needs a soft sell. They have to stop being repetitive and giving us the same thing over and over again, and that’s going to be hard for DC because the core of their entire library is based on repetition. You think this many Superman movies is bothersome? Look at their publishing history. Superman. Supergirl. Superboy. Krypto the Super pup. Steel. On the Batman side, there’s Batman, Batwoman, Batgirl, Cassandra Cain, Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, Dick Grayson, Damian Wayne, and then we could get into the numerous Flashes and Green Lanterns. Point is, DC will beat an idea to death and beyond if they think it’s popular. Do we need six different Robins and four different Flashes? No. No, we don’t. And DC needs to realize this and let it all go.
With all the grappling hooks, Gotham’s skyline just looks like a giant game of cat’s cradle.
Wonder Woman would have been an awesome character to reboot the whole DC universe, but it’s too late for her now. She was unique, had never been on film before, and was even a woman — bonus points! Now, it looks like they’re just going to Captain America her with a story of past heroism and then catching up in the present in the universe that people already dislike. Boo.
The Flash has too much baggage from a low budget TV show to start a new universe off on his own, plus Marvel has basically taken the wind out of his sails twice with two separate Quicksilvers. And Aquaman is far too silly of a character on which to hang your hat. Cyborg just doesn’t have the likability. I’d suggest Swamp Thing from the Alan Moore run of the comic, but he’s too hard for people to relate to, and the old movies were ridiculous. He’s out for now. DC should restart their entire universe with Doctor Fate, Captain Atom, or Starman.
Pictured: something actually somewhat interesting.
Each of those characters has a history that only comic fans know about, but they’re all long and rich and full of cool stories to exploit. Use them, for God’s sake. Oh, did Batman see his parents get shot? No shit. It happens every five years, no wonder the man is so mentally unbalanced. Now, give us something we don’t know.
Warner Bros. has the rights to DC Comic’s entire library, and their track record with it has demonstrated fairly clearly they’re managing it like a chimp with a handgun. The chimp can maybe make the thing work, but it has no idea how it made the thing work, or why.
DC needs to break that Warner Bros deal — and fast. Then, they need to make a better deal than the one Marvel made that caused them to lose control of the X-Men, Spider-Man, and other properties. Allow other studios to have a chance to produce their properties, but keep it all under the banner of a DC production company, so all can be overseen by DC’s top brass and all can be brought together at any given moment and in any film, if they so desire.
Just get this fucking guy out of the top brass first.
Let a company such as Blumhouse and director James Wan take on Swamp Thing, and make it a dark, terrifying story that actually scares an audience. If Groot can be the most popular Guardian Of The Galaxy, Swamp Thing can be a reasonable horror icon.
Put Black Adam in the hands of a director such as Shane Black or Alex Proyas, and make it dark and action-filled, a cross of superhero, noir, and sci-fi action.
Give Hawkman a shot with a director such as Tim Burton or Alfonso Cuaron, and make it an epic, fantastic adventure that’s so engrossing and chock-full of effects that you don’t even care it’s about a dude with bird wings.
This dude knows a thing or two about reinvigorating stale franchises.
After a smattering of off-the-beaten-path characters, that’s when you hit a Superman movie, and you don’t introduce him — people in third-world countries recognize Superman; he doesn’t need an origin anymore. He also doesn’t need Lex Luthor as a villain. Give him Brainiac instead, and keep the movie light, literally and figuratively.
Here’s where the Flash fits in, as well as Aquaman, Cyborg, Power Girl, Green Lantern Corps, and a bunch of other titles. Throw some shit at the wall, and see what sticks. If a few of these suck balls, no harm, no foul. Marvel keeps making Fantastic Four movies, so just keep reminding yourself of that.
#2. Work Smart, Not Hard
You’re going to want to make a Batman movie in here somewhere, and that can’t happen. You hear me, DC? It can’t happen. Nothing with Batman, Batgirl, Batwoman, Robin — nothing. Batman is going to be your ultimate weapon. He’s going to be lurking in the shadows, and we’ll all know it and be expecting him, and he’ll never fucking show up. Not for years. Literal years.
Batman must not show up until we’ve had two consecutive Superman movies that were generally well liked by audiences and critics alike, and they must be released among all the other movies I’ve suggested and/or reasonable alternatives. It is because Batman is so awesome that we must withhold the Batman. He is the dessert that comes after the shitty meal made by our senile aunt Lorraine, who may have mistaken sugar for salt and canned beets for tomatoes in the spaghetti sauce.
The dark chocolate cake we deserve, but not the one we need right now.
This may seem like a terrible idea, but it’s the smartest thing DC can do right now because they have empirical evidence in the form of a solid 75 percent of all their critically well-received and audience-favorite movies that Batman is their best character. He needs to be used sparingly. He’s the Sriracha that will bring the DC flavor palace to the next level. Use too much, and all you have is a red chili mess.
#1. Have Fun
This is DC’s hardest pill to swallow. I’m not sure when comics stopped being fun for them, but they sure did. Obviously Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy was meant to suck a little sour frog ass and not be a rip-roaring Adam West romp through unbridled tomfoolery, but they let that set the tone for everything that came after. Batman V Superman has a handful of noticeable jokes in it, and they ain’t knee-slappers. Man Of Steel wasn’t much different. And while Green Lantern vaguely tried to use Ryan Reynolds for what he’s good for, it went over as well as turd ceviche on Top Chef, lost in a sea of neon green and silly space clouds.
Yeah, that’s totally the face of an actor confident about the franchise he has to helm.
Not a lot of people were head over heels in love with Avengers: Age Of Ultron, but at least it seemed like everyone was having fun. Then, Ant-Man came along and basically merged a superhero movie with a sitcom, and people loved it. Because Ant-Man is kind of a goofy–ass character, you need to treat him in a goofy-ass way. A solid half of the DC universe is goofy-ass, too, so DC needs to accept that and run with it. Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Blue Beetle, The Flash, and Aquaman: These are all pretty silly characters. You can’t have Khal Drogo angrily commanding fish to do his bidding and expect anyone to give a shit. That’s crazy talk. Instead, have Jason Momoa be DC’s Thor, a kind of mythological figure who’s maybe a little too serious at first, but who pulls you into a fun story with cool backup characters and has someone such as Loki to play off of for laughs. Plus, you can make it a literal “fish out of water” story. It’s begging for it.
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