A Movie Entry – The DC Movie Machine

or, “Stop crushing on Batman!”

Way back in the mists of the 1960s, there was a Batman movie.  It wasn’t very good.  It was downright campy and became something of a cult classic.

Not until the late 1970s was there another big DC attempt at a movie.  And thus there were four Superman movies.  The first was most excellent even if the ending was a little forced.  The second was not too bad, and Superman felled a supervillain.  The other two we will never speak of.  But these movies had Superman as he was in the comics – a Big Blue Boy Scout.  These movies were fun and lighthearted but not campy.

And ten years later, there were four Batman movies.  Oddly, they followed the same pattern as the four Superman movies.  The first was most excellent, the second was not too bad if kind of weird, and the other two we will never speak of.  In the first two, Batman was a brooding, Gothic hero, as he should be.  The movies were dark and serious but true to the idea of a comic book.

Then Marvel decided to get serious about this movie business in the early ’00s and launched a trilogy with their flagship loveable loser, Spider-man.  Box office records were broken and DC said, “Hey, what about us?”  So they decided to return to the successes of yester-year and released the first of a new dark, gritty, and realistic-ish Batman trilogy and what was probably intended to be the first of a new Superman trilogy as well.  Obviously the Batman trilogy worked much better as the attempt to make Superman relatable by giving him a child did not work.

And then the Batman trilogy made all the money and DC was so happy with their beloved Dark Knight they immediately set out to make new movies because it was working for Marvel.  But DC did not understand Marvel’s plan.  Oh, no, they did not understand it.

For various executives got together and planned out their Marvel/Disney movie-verse.  They knew everyone would want to see an Avengers movie and so they picked the Avengers who would star in it and worked out who would get a solo movie as their introduction.  That is why Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor all got their own movies.  Iron Man was a such a surprise break out hit Marvel hastily cobbled together a couple of sequels, and figured they should plan for sequels for the other two as well.  But note that Marvel/Disney did not try to turn all their other characters into Iron Man to try to repeat the success of that set of movies.  No, they let Captain America be Captain America and Thor be Thor.  They even had plans to expand their movie-verse to lesser known franchises that they thought would translate to the big screen, hence the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy (I heart Rocket Raccoon).  They knew if the Avengers was a hit, there would need to be a sequel, so they planned the plot of the sequel and the solo movies required to make the sequel make sense (hence the upcoming Ant-man movie; ugh).  While quality will go down, the Marvel/Disney movie-verse movies are making all the money, and I’m excited to see some of what is going to be released this year.  Their template has been by every metric a huge success.

All DC/WB had to do was copy that.  Fans want a Justice League movie.  Sit down and make a Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman movie (because those are vital to any JL movie) and decide if anyone else really needs a solo movie.  Plan out the team sequels.  Plan out the solo sequels.  The recipe for success is laid out so clearly by the Marvel/Disney team.  Hollywood is all about cheap imitations, but in this instance, well, why reinvent the wheel?  Marvel/Disney is making their grand plan work and the money is rolling in.  So simple and yet DC/WB is managing to screw this up.  How?  How can they not see what Marvel/Disney is doing and copy that?  The formula is proven.  The recipe works.  Copy/paste, easy-peasy.

But DC/WB is in love with Batman and cannot see any other way to make money than to make Batman movies.  I’m not joking.  I want DC to get over their obsession with all things Batman.  Specifically, the love of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.  Hell, they love those two movies so much The Dark Knight Rises is just those two movies smashed together.  They love those two movies so much Man of Steel was just Batman Begins with “Batman” crossed out and “Superman” written in instead.  This is why the studio executives think Green Lantern failed – because it wasn’t Batman Begins.  The DC/WB universe centers around Batman.  That’s why the Superman sequel is tentatively titled, “Superman vs Batman” and not “Man of Steel 2.”  Oh, no, the reason Man of Steel wasn’t the financial success Batman Begins was is because there just wasn’t enough Batman in spite of it being the same damn story!  DC/WB sees no narrative possibilities in the source material unless they can somehow make a character into Batman.

Stop it DC/WB.  Stop it right now.  Listen to the fans.  Read a damn comic book.  Pay some attention.  I don’t want to see another movie about Batman in blue spandex and a red cape.  I don’t want to see a movie about Batman with a Green Lantern ring.  I don’t want to see a movie about the fastest Batman alive.  Hell, as much as I want my Wonder Woman movie, I don’t want to see a movie about Bat(wo)man beating up Nazis and fighting evil with her Scorpion-style Lasso of Strangling.  Dial back the Bat-love and quit trying to shove all the other DC characters into the cape and cowl.  It doesn’t fit them and the fans know it.  How come that’s so difficult to understand?

Seriously, stop crushing on Batman.


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S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

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