Friday, 31 January 2014

What DC films needs to do to compete with Marvel


Like it or not, this has to be better than The Avengers to keep
the competition healthy.
As much as I love Marvel (I have loved series such as X-Men Legacy, Hawkeye and Scarlet Spider) I gotta’ say, I am more of a DC guy. There is something that just draws me into the DC universe and really care for the characters more.

It’s not just the comics that I love, though. DC’s television, video game and animated ventures have struck me as incredibly satisfying. Arrow remains one of my favourite TV shows, I drooled all over my DVD player watching last year’s Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and I am kicking myself that I deleted the Injustice app off my phone.

Which is why it hurts when I hear people talk about DC as “forever Marvel’s kid brother” (and I actually saw a comment using those words on IGN a few months ago). These people are mostly talking about the movies. The Avengers beat The Dark Knight Rises in the box office and that apparently proves that DC is inferior. I have my own opinion about The Avengers, but that, I think is a different article for a different time. Today, I’m writing to argue that DC is far from out of the game. In fact, give it two or three years and DC could snatch victory away from Marvel again. Below are a list of ways that DC can indeed pull ahead in the movie game and give Marvel’s phase 3 a run for their money.

1.       Do it differently

I want to see Justice League as much as the next man. But DC needs to be careful how they go about it. Last thing DC fans want is for a JL movie to be released only to have it be dismissed as a “poor man’s Avengers” and that means DC needs to walk a fine line between universe building and not doing what Marvel did. Do I have a suggestion for that? Actually, I have no clue. But if DC comes up with a truly original way to build their film universe, that method alone should be enough to interest the uninitiated. If DC wants to survive in the film world, they have to stand on their own shoulders.

2.       Make TV your friend

Let’s be clear; this is different from a “combine the TV universe with the film one” suggestion. But utilise the hype that is generated by a TV show and use it to give the films momentum. Am I suggesting a Green Arrow movie? Why not? If DC allows more licenses to go out, they could do a spectacular job at using these shows to advertise their film franchises. I’m pretty sure that fever people would have been even interested in Superman Returns were it not for Smallville- think of what a TV show could do for a film that’s actually done well.

3.       Work those advertisements!

The main reason Marvel films have been so successful actually has nothing to do with the quality of the films themselves. Captain America was a mess, Iron Man 2 was painfully awful and Thor never quite made it past “pretty good”. But these films got people talking. Not because of the quality of the films, but because viewers started putting the clues (read: signposts saying “There will be an Avengers film”) together. Nerds love pretending that they know stuff and all of these hints served to build excitement for the coming team-up. It was, in essence the longest, most expensive advertising campaign in the history of film and it paid off in spades. In the same way, the second Man of Steel should lead people to think that a Justice League  movie is definitely coming. Use these films as advertisements. Get them thinking that they’ll miss out on the best part of the franchise and not only will they pay money when that part comes around. They’ll also pay to get themselves “primed” for the experience.

4.       Give everyone the spotlight

As fun as Avengers was, the film really should have been called Iron Man and his Lower-Paid Friends. Robert Downey Jr got the best lines, had the most screentime and did the most hero-ing. A Justice League film could build on this by not- I repeat NOT- giving most of the screentime to Batman or Superman. Let us see the Flash, Green Lantern, or (heaven forbid) Wonder Woman take centre stage once in a while.

5.       Don’t be afraid to reboot to make it fit

In case you’re wondering, yes; I am talking about Green Lantern- more specifically, Hal Jordan. He’s an essential part of the DC universe and just to ignore him would be unfaithful to the current culture of DC comics where Green Lantern has had the limelight for years. I know there’s a push to get John  Stewart into a JL movie, but let’s be frank; John Stewart, at this stage, can’t even hold a single book on his own. I seriously doubt he can hold a movie franchise, which is what DC seem to be aiming at. What’s more Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner just don’t stand out enough to fans. I’m sorry Warner Brothers, but a new Green Lantern film needs to happen.

6.       Get actual DC writers on board

Geoff Johns is considered the quintessential Green Lantern writer. Grant Morrision is still praised for his work on All-Star Superman. Scott Snyder is believed to be the greatest Batman writer of our time. It would be ridiculous to ignore their knowledge of the characters just to have a no-name screenwriter pen a script about a character he barely knows. There is a lot of talent in the DC halls-utilise that.

Now, I’m not going to be so stupid as to suggest that this will put all Marvel fans on permanent suicide watch; but it will help even the playing field. Will DC beat Marvel or will Marvel beat DC? Who cares?!? The real winner in all of this is going to be us; the consumers. This is a great time to be a comics fan. If both companies play their cards right, we’ll be treated to some of the best films of this century, and that’s exciting. But in order to keep that quality going, DC needs to be putting out films that will make Marvel rethink their strategy and adapt to improve (and, of course, vice versa).