Defending DC properties

DC properties less fit for the big screen than Marvel's? Shenanigans. Here's why, in my opinion, such statements are simply shortsighted.

I just came off reading Mark Millar's opinions about superhero films. Even as I kept reading my way down the article, retorts started building up in my head. I've got this mad urge to get them out of me, so instead of exposing them to my indifferent dog, I figured I better do what I had never done before, and write an editorial.

Millar basically said that DC properties are unfit for modern movie-going audiences. They are too over-the-top, too extravagant, their concepts too hard to swallow. It seems like it wasn't just two months ago that a movie about the norse god of thunder came out to great reviews and financial success. The question popped in my head: "Are you actually saying that Thor is easier to relate to than the Flash?" Or easier to recognize, for that matter? Everyone and their moms know who the Flash is. I don't know where they get it from if they're not into comics, but they know. They know he's fast, they know his logo, they know he wears red. "Don't leave without me, I'll be done showering like I'm Flash." "Okay, if you say you'll be fast..." And I'm absolutely positive that just ten years ago more people knew who the Flash was than those who knew who Spider-Man was. So is it unfair to say that back in 2001, when the concept of superhero movies was as fresh as a tulip, the idea of a Flash movie would have had the same kind of response that the idea of a Spidey movie? Imagine it with the right marketing, the right trailers, the right everything. Flash-mania. The lighting bolt logo everywhere. Is it hard to imagine? Not for me.

My point here is that Marvel beat DC to the punch, and they developed their stuff so effectively that they can easily lay claim to the past decade. They took over that cinematic quota and sated the audience's hunger for the genre. Their characters were given the chance to prove themselves. WB, meanwhile, let that happen not only because they had other stuff in their plate (Harry Potter, Matrix, etc.) but because they wanted to play it safe, and patiently stick to the slow development of the two characters that had already proven they could spike interest: Batman and Superman. With Batman, they hit it big again. With Superman, not so much.

What's the difference here? Well, the people behind them. And just because Singer proved he didn't know well what to do with the character, does it mean the character's broken? If Superman Returns had been the best Superman movie ever and the masses STILL didn't care, I could consider that option. But it wasn't. And the same with Green Lantern. It wasn't, it wasn't, IT WASN'T! The best GL movie and the best Superman movie are still in there, untapped, waiting to be dug out. Do that, and the audience will adore it, just as they did with Iron Man, with Spider-Man, with the X-Men.

The difference between Marvel and DC is not the characters. It's the success ratio. DC characters remain unproven, and that DOESN'T mean they have nothing to offer. No, Batman is not the only viable one. Just as he needed someone to swoop in and save him, so do the other ones. No, Millar, the solution isn't animation. The solution is to find Superman's Nolan, or GL's Raimi. Plus, having Aquaman talk underwater is not as ridiculous as having a man turn into a sentient heap of sand in Spider-Man 3, and how much did that make again?

So to sum it up, I think DC characters are unproven, yes. Just as Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men were before the right people came along and turned them into major kiddie/adult appeal and box office gold.
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