Platypus Musings: The Sad State of DC Comics

One of my favorite bloggers and web-voyeur, Sean CW Korsgaard, recently posted his review of the recently released Guardians of the Galaxy film and gave Marvel its much-deserved props for moving outside its comfort zone. However, in his introduction he made note of DC Comics/Warner Bros. “flail in its attempts” to hype Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (featuring Wonder Woman and half the Justice League.) I would have taken exception to that ten years ago as I was a rabid DC fan who believed Geoff Johns could do no wrong with his inaugural runs of Flash, JSA, and the upcoming Green Lantern: Rebirth. However, now that I am older and supposedly wiser, my fanaticism for DC has waned. While I still love Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, and even lesser names like the Atom, Hawkman, and Firestorm, the company has been one colossal disappointment after another for at least the past few years. And no, I never really liked Batman. I could never identify with a multi-billionaire whose hobbies include brooding in a guano-filled cave and beating up criminals because of his freudian issues…

…but I digress.

Count me among the fans who are frustrated by the flaccid performance of 2011′s Green Lantern and the adequate-at-best Man of Steel. Marvel has been become a Hollywood juggernaut and a darling with fans while their distinguished competition sputters along. Even Wonder Woman, one of the comic book medium’s most iconic characters, cannot get a movie because, “she doesn’t have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes” said DC Entertainment Chief, Diane Nelson, last year. I say that is a steaming load and I am reasonably certain that many of my fellow fans would agree. If DC has one major strength, it has prominent female characters who are not distaff counterparts of a male character (i.e. Wonder Woman and Black Canary) whereas Marvel’s best effort is Black Widow whose ability to carry a movie by herself is questionable (with no disrespect intended to the talented Scarlett Johansson.) Granted, there are rumors that a Wonder Woman movies is on DC’s slate, I am pessimistic over whether DC and Warner Bros. could pull it off or not.

My main problem with DC is that they are complacent and believe that they cannot do any wrong, or at least they give me that impression. I recall how Christian Hoffer of the Outhouse, a site that specializes in satire, wrote that DC denied their requests for interviews based on the site’s biting criticism towards them. Granted, Marvel has demonstrated a similar predilection towards journalists, I believe that there is something terribly rotten with DC’s management when they reboot their universe to bring in new fans yet they paradoxically tell creators that they publish comics for forty-five year olds and likewise consider having only five percent of their readers claim to be new a success when they rolled out the New 52. To be blunt, it feels like DC Comics wants me to be grateful that they casually swept aside so many of the stories and irrevocably altered characters I enjoyed. Similarly, the vibe I get from the publicity pertaining to Dawn of Justice is they want me to be grateful that they are stuffing Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg into a movie they have no real place in.

It seems that DC Comics wants to do too much, too fast in its race against Marvel. Though I believed that Ryan Reynolds would have made an excellent Hal Jordan/Green Lantern with the right script and direction, they should have reserved Parallax for another film and possibly saved the Green Lantern Corps for the mid-credits stinger. (I would also like to say that the film would have failed for the same reasons if they had used John Stewart as the main protagonist.) Man of Steel suffered from the same problems where it could not decide whether it wanted to be like the Dark Knight trilogy or the more action-oriented Avengers. That is probably the sad part of all this, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is more of a spiritual successor to Richard Donner’s Superman from 1978 than any of DC’s recent offerings. It seems that Marvel knows what direction it was to take with its cinematic universe just as Donner had a vision for what he wanted to do with Superman though Edgar Wright’s departure from Ant-Man over “creative differences” demonstrates that it is not all lollipops and rainbows. I knew that they were reaching for something bigger and exciting when I saw that after-credit scene from the first Iron Man movie. I cannot say I get that feeling from Man of Steel or Dawn of Justice.

I am sorry DC–actually, scratch that, why should I apologize? You have to earn my affection and my money if you are going to release any films based on your characters. While I thoroughly enjoy Arrow and eagerly await Flash, you really need to get your act together and stop tripping over yourself in your race to get Justice League to theaters. I plan to watch Guardians of Galaxy, and when I do, I will quietly lament the potential you are squandering.

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Posted on August 3, 2014, in Comic Books, Movies, The Musing Platypus and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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