This article first appeared on IGN SEA a couple years back, right after SDCC 2015 and just prior to BvS and Suicide Squad hitting the cinemas. To say that I have the power of clairvoyance would be spot on.
Anyway, have a read on what I wrote about a couple years back and see which parts I got spot on (tons of them), and those that I missed – which I think was almost zero.
Now before I get haters calling me a Marvel fanboy, here’s a fact – I grew up a Batman fan. Loved and watched tons of Batman: The Animated series growing up, and a bulk of my comic book collection are made up of Batman comics, tradepaperbacks and my favorite graphic novel of all time is The Dark Knight Returns. My favorite rendition of Batman on the silver screen is a bit more modern; Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan movies and for print, it’s a tie between Frank Miller’s old-Batman and Scott Snyder’s version in the New 52. Now that’s out of the way, let’s get on to the meat of it, shall we?
DC are copying Marvel’s superhero movie formula – Sans the Foundation
Warner Brothers and DC Comics seem to be on course for a bumper year in 2016, with two highly promoted movies at Comic Con this year; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. While the masses are excited to see #Batfleck and #LetoJoker on the silver screen, I’m much more skeptical and worried that DC is on course for another wave of superhero movie trainwrecks.
Say what you want DC fans; but DC are copying Marvel’s superhero movie formula except that they have theirs on super fast-forward, copying only the fun parts at the end. Imagine it as copying the last, near-answer section of an algebra equation sans all the early steps which lead to it.
For most comic readers, we all had an inkling of what was to come when we saw Captain America’s shield in Iron Man or Thor’s hammer at the end of Iron Man 2. Each movie was part of a much larger universe where a big finale is waiting. Call them a tease but it was a tease worth having. In between, fans and newbies were introduced to lesser known characters via several movies; each with legit reason to be in the bigger equation. B or C-list characters such as Hawkeye and Widow were all introduced at their own pace.
Heck, even less mainstream titles such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man got their own movies and have proven to be a huge success. Why? Because Marvel took time to tell us a story about their characters and with that, create new fans who attach themselves to said characters.
The past few years saw a myriad of awesome Marvel movies with interlinking storylines which ultimately culminated in an epic Avengers movie. They are set to go one up next year with Civil War. A genuine geekgasm moment there of course. But it didn’t happen overnight; definitely not over the course of one single movie.
DC? Nonono. Remember that algebra analogy I used earlier? Now imagine having presented a final answer which is correct, having providing a copied equation to only be questioned later on why and how you came about with the answer. That’s exactly where DC is heading to in the next 24 months or so.
For example; Suicide Squad. Who are the Suicide Squad? Might as well call the movie “Harley Quinn and a Bunch of C-List Baddies”. You know DC is desperate to play catch up when:
1. Instead of reintroducing a brand new Joker in his own movie – that boat has long passed, guys – they decided to rush his ‘reboot’ and toss him into a movie featuring much, much lesser known comic characters.
2. Instead of allowing fans to know who’s who in Suicide Squad, they brought in Joker to pique the masses’ interest towards the movie. In the beginning, I assumed his appearance will be more of a cameo but from the looks of it, it’ll be substantial. Hopefully this is all down to how the trailers were cut.
Might as well call the movie “Harley Quinn and a Bunch of C-List Baddies”.
But why the need to emphasize so much on Joker? So he seems relevant to appear in ANOTHER rushed movie rushed into production; Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, that’s why.
In retrospect, Marvel had confidence in their characters and movies. You might not have heard of Star-Lord prior to Chris Pratt’s rendition, but now he is one of the most-loved Marvel characters. “I am Groot” is now a catchphrase! Goes to show that if you believe in your product, it will take off given proper care and attention. Marvel didn’t even have to toss in obvious Iron Man nor Captain America reference to make people want to watch it.
Ten bucks says that the Leto Joker will outshine other characters in Suicide Squad and viewers will end up feeling robbed off the opportunity to potentially watch two full, fun, independent action-packed comic supervillain movies. Now that is sad.
The Case of BvS
Batman Vs. Superman is one of the storylines comic lovers have been yearning for years, being pretty much on-par with Marvel’s Civil War in terms of scale and impact. But that’s where the parallel stops.
Civil War took years to come by. While the tension between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers ignited right off the bat in the Avengers movie, Marvel knew what their fans wanted, expected and understood that their fans aren’t stupid. They want a meaningful, solid reason for the two to come at loggerheads. And by the time Captain America 3: Civil War kicks off, there would have been at least two movies showing Cap and Stark’s difference in ideologies and now both are at boiling point considering the outcome of Age of Ultron.
In the comics, it took a nuclear war, years of pent-up frustration and anger from Bruce Wayne towards Superman which led to the fight in Crime Alley. It was about differing ideologies, outlook and personalities which brought the two biggest names in DC comic verse to duke it out, not simply via flashbacks of the Man of Steel movie. It just does not cut.
Screw the build up. Screw the back stories. Screw legacy. We want a crossover movie with superheroes and supervillains LIKE NOW now. Of course, any comic fan would welcome this arc but the truth is, one movie simply does not give justice to this rivalry.
It all boils down to this: DC wants to rush the production of a Justice League movie. While no solid news as yet, ask any comic book fan – they will tell you the same. Wouldn’t it mess up the whole timeline? Of course. But considering how DC has been rushing to hit peak with rushed Joker introduction, Suicide Squad and BvS, I would not discount them of retconning it to be a ‘How they were before shit hits the fan’ angle.
Deep down, I really hope that DC and WB won’t screw this up. It will be too much to take and may very well spell the end of their attempt to give Marvel a good run for their money; which would be a huge loss for fans all around.
Fast forward two years down the road: They messed things up. Nuff said.