When it comes to the title licensing battle, Marvel is clearly winning. With a ton of hit movies under its belt (think Spider-Man, X-Men, and Iron Man), and a landslide more expected (Spider-Man again, X-men again, and the fifty-ish Avengers movies and the requisite tie-ins), Marvel has become a box office juggernaut. Granted, not everything has been a gem: Ghost Rider, despite the badass premise and the always-awesome Sam Elliot, suffered from severe Nic Cage-itis*; The Fantastic Four had Jessica Alba / Sue Storm naked and still sucked, and there has yet to be a Hulk movie that doesn’t require intense drugs to enjoy.
Even the smaller publishers have been getting in on the game – Dynamite did alright with Green Hornet; so far Image’s The Walking Dead TV series has been great; even little Oni Press won some new fans with Edgar Wright’s brilliant Scott Pilgrim adaptation.
So where has DC been? On the grand scale of things, it hasn’t been doing much.
Granted, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight raked in enough to buy a few countries and spawned a generation of regrettable “Why So Serious?” tattoos. V for Vendetta was awesome, and Watchmen was as good as it could have been. Superman Returns was… yeah.
Aside from the next section of Christopher Nolan’s brilliant Batman opus, there isn’t much on DC’s horizon to get excited about either. Green Lantern looks like it went completely off the rails somewhere along the line – it was one cliché away from being Terminator: Salvation, and it wouldn’t be surprising if WB inserted a fart joke in the Oath. There is a Superman remake in the works, and hopefully it won’t completely blow, but the Man of Steel never seems to resonate with the movie watching public. Hopefully the creators of the upcoming TV series starring Wonder Woman will leave the invisible jet parked.
The only thing that might end up being more awesome than a bikini-clad Psylocke is David S. Goyer’s scripted (but sketchy on details or news since 2009) Supermax, featuring Green Arrow stuck in a jail full of minor DC villains. If it manages to avoid a ball-tastic Eastern Promises-style fight scene and gets the casting right, it could be phenomenal.
The problem is, not many of DC’s characters lend themselves to the big (or small) screen. Many are just a little bit on the ridiculous side, and often aren’t relatable to the average film audience. Batman has issue, flaws and weaknesses – that’s why people flock to see him kick ass. Superman doesn’t – a weakness to an obscure element doesn’t count – that’s why the average Joe Plumber doesn’t care about him. The rest of the Justice League is kind of alienating, with the exception of Green Arrow, who, despite being married, is still the most badass dude in the JLA.
So what could DC License that could draw some people?
Definitely not Tawky Tawny – despite being the best tiger/gentleman in the DC Universe, it may be a bit of a stretch to get audiences to see the James Bond of the animal kingdom tear bad dudes up. Or maybe not, if they took that angle.
J’onn J’onzz is great on paper… but really, did anyone really care when he got shanked in Final Crisis?
Starro – nope.
The one group that could be great to see on the silver screen would be The Rogues. They have everything – a great story, relatable characters, powers – and the Flash could guest-star, giving him a start to his own series of films.
It could be that DC is biding its time, building up its rep with fewer movies, but ones of better quality. Then, when the time comes, and the technology is available to render Elastic Man believably, it will unleash the Justice League movie upon the world.
*Nic Cage-itis (n) def: When a film sucks, not because of it’s content or possibilities, but because Nic Cage clearly arrived on set with a “whatever; papa needs new shoes” attitude.