It’s been weird watching Warner Bros get their asses kicked in the comic book movie arena*; we’re living in the age of the comic book movie and this massive movie studio is sitting on a goldmine of these properties… and just sitting. While every comic book property imaginable makes its way through the development process and while Marvel is creating a whole fucking superhero universe in their movies, Warner execs have been sticking their fingers up their asses and sniffing them. As Marvel’s second and third tier heroes become major successes, Warner Bros has dragged their feet on developing any of the DC stable of characters.
Sure, they have The Dark Knight next week, which is going to make them a bunch of money. But that’s it – once that movie is out, there are no other DC properties in active, forward-moving development. None of their characters are even ready to get near a movie camera, and it’s probably going to be three years before Christopher Nolan finishes his Bat-trilogy (and while he’s hedging to the press, I bet you money he comes back for a third). Next year we get Watchmen, which is non-franchisable, and not part of the DC Universe itself. It’s quite possible that the next time you see a core DC character on the big screen, Marvel will have trailers for The Avengers in theaters.
So it’s sort of heartening that these guys have finally woken up and decided that maybe they should do something with this massive library of stories and characters. Warner execs have begun a summit with the folks from DC, trying to chart a course for the future of their superhero movies. There are three things that should come out of this summit:
1) Run away from Bryan Singer. The Incredible Hulk didn’t prove that a reboot will rule the world, but it can suck the poison out of the wound. Just scrap Superman Returns and start from scratch. Include a fight scene in the new movie.
2) Do what I never imagined could be done: create a coherent universe on film. Follow Marvel’s lead and use the films as advertisements and buzz builders for each other. Come out of this meeting with a five year plan for the DC Universe on film, and then hire interesting people to bring that plan to life. Find more Nolans – people with visions, not hacks or directors beholden to some ancient take on the characters.
3) Loosen your grip on some of these characters. Warner Bros gets first shot at developing all DC properties, and they of course take almost every single one, even though they’ll never actually do much with many of them. I understand that Warner Bros doesn’t want to only produce superhero movies, and that Marvel has a better position in that these movies are all they do, and then they shop them to studios to distribute. But you can still get good things going on with some of these characters that will otherwise languish for eternity; if you’re never going to do a Blackhawks movie (and you won’t), let another studio have a crack at it. Keep those main characters, the ones that you’ll want to use in a Justice League crossover, but spread the wealth around otherwise, making films at other studios under a DC Productions banner or something.
Of course what will probably come out of this will be Meet Dave auteur Brian Robbins directing a Wonder Twins movie with Dane Cook and Kathy Griffin as the Wonder Twins, and then a massive, universe-changing weekly comic book event to tie in with it.
*as opposed to watching DC Comics get their asses kicked in the producing readable comic books arena, where they’ve been bested by every single comer.