It’s official. Marvel’s The Avengers has a 100% “Fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes.com as of this writing, which is the highest rating of any superhero film thus far. This is the moment we’ve waited for since May 2008, when Nick Fury appeared post-credits in Iron Man. I haven’t seen it yet, but our own Ciaran just posted his spolier-free review today, and the general consensus along with other critics is that Joss Whedon has hit this one out of the park. We can all let out a collective sigh of relief, enjoy this monumentally ambitious film, change our underpants, and bask in the glory of being the cool kids for once as the world at large is welcomed into the amazing world of characters and stories that we’ve studied most of our lives.
But, what about poor old DC?
Sure they have one of the most highly-anticipated films of all time arriving this summer in The Dark Knight Rises, and The Man of Steel casting our eyes to the sky next year, but with the critically-panned Green Lantern, and no sign of a Justice League movie on the horizon, DC has some catching up to do in order to compete with their frenemies at Marvel. (Yeah, I said “frenemies”; does it not fit?)
But maybe DC isn’t as behind as it seems. After hiring The Dark Knight/The Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan as producer for the new Zack Snyder-directed Superman movie, we here at the UTF World News Organization Offices have an itching feeling(not that; we got checked) that DC may be taking a more subtle, classy approach to the daunting task of forcing several vastly-different characters into one super-team movie. Now, there has been speculation that Nolan could throw a nod to Superman in the final Batman flick, or even that Supes could make a cameo. I find this far-fetched, though if anyone could pull it off with some integrity, it would be Nolan. Either way, DC needs to get to work if they don’t want to be left in the celluloid dust of Marvel movies slated to steamroll theaters over the next couple of years. Here’s our perspective on what steps they should take following The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel:
This one is a no-brainer. With today’s special effects and assuming DC learned their lesson on wisely choosing filmmakers(ahem…Green Lantern), this could easily be one of the best and most visually striking superhero movies yet. I’m not fan of 3-D, but if a Flash movie was shot in 3-D with the right direction, it actually excites me to imagine The Flash speeding out of the screen, surrounded by speed-force energy. So far from DC we have a human, sans-superpowers, and next year, an alien with a myriad of powers. What we need next in order to aclimate mainstream audiences to the DC Universe is a human, transformed, granted awesome power, but that remains human nonetheless, with all the inherent problems of a somewhat normal guy. (I’m not counting Green Lantern, and neither should you). This would help bridge the divide between the two extremes.
This one will be a challenge. Comics are unfortunately still a male-dominated audience, but isn’t it about time someone have the cojones( see what I did there?) to remedy that? What better way than by making a perfect movie adaptation of everyone’s favorite Amazonian Princess? Wonder Woman, to me, and I suspect to a few other fanboys and the mainstream audience, is somewhat of a background character in the comics, well-known though she may be. I don’t seek to buy her issues, but am always glad when she shows up in other titles. Similar to how Blade, Iron Man, and even Thor were perceived before their respective big-screen debuts. A well-made film can open the eyes of even the most cynical fan to the great qualities of a character that may have been bogged down by decades of messy continuity. Get the right screenwriter, tell a fresh, refined origin story with plenty of action and zero female cliches, and it could work. Not to mention that, if DC were to pull this one off, it would put them at an advantage over Marvel by having the first big-budget female hero movie. She’s Superman’s equal and opposite, and would be a terrific counterpoint to him in a Justice League movie.
GREEN LANTERN 2
Before you throw a rage fit, hear me out. The first Green Lantern had many, many flaws. But somewhere, beneath all the disjointed plot and lack of character development, they actually did begin to scratch the surface of what GL is about. It was handled poorly, with a dulling amount of cheese. It’s hard to see, but a good movie is buried under there somewhere. I don’t care if they re-cast, though I don’t feel Ryan Reynolds was the problem at all. New screenwriter, new director, maybe even throw Nolan on production duties, and all the elements for the movie we deserve are there. But unfortunately, DC has to deal with their one stinker amongst their new wave of films. Whether that’s reboot the series(which I don’t prefer), or go the route of Hulk/Incredible Hulk, or more appropriately, the Ghost Rider/Ghost Rider:SOV route and make a semi-sequel. Green Lantern MUST be part of the Justice League, and he deserves a truly great solo adventure before joining the ranks. My guess is that DC will not risk a sequel, until possibly after the team movie though.
This can only go two ways, really: Amazingly awesome, and such that it competes with The Avengers, or it will flop. There is no middle ground for this one. A mediocre movie would only serve to support the popular belief (as explained by Joss Whedon) that DC’s characters are too big, too iconic to translate to the silver screen with as much grace as Marvel has excecuted with theirs. I refuse to believe it, Joss. Sounds like someone is just bashing the competition while he’s riding high on success. Of course, Christian Bale will not be Batman, but that’s just fine. I’d be ok if Batman never even took his cowl off in a a Justice League movie. Cast the right Dark Knight, and it will work without Bruce Wayne. In fact, Batman should stay somewhat detached from the group, and mysterious in their eyes. Everyone loves Martian Manhunter, but I don’t honestly see DC making a solo film for him, so he could be fit into the Green Lantern sequel or even debut in Justice League. J’onn J’onnz definitely needs to be a part of the League. As for Aquaman, despite what Entourage would have you believe, I don’t think mainstream audiences would flock to a solo flick for him. I could be wrong, but the idea doesn’t get my nipples hard, so to speak. Then , there’s Green Arrow, who most definitely could translate to the big screen, but after Hawkeye’s exposure as Marvel’s archer, it would likely seem a rip-off, despite who existed first. Another massive risk and challenge for DC that comes with making their movie after The Avengers, is that the two would be easily comparable. “Alien threat comes to Earth, superheroes band together to fight them” is your typical DC story, so they’re going to need to think way outside the box on this one. I have faith. Do you?
So that’s my view on a potentially exciting superhero movie “arms race”, if you will. These two companies, DC and Marvel, have invented, defined, and redefined superhero and comics culture for 70+ years, and the rivalry between the two is the true source of inspiration for the both of them, constantly trying to one-up each other, grasping for our hard-earned dollars and respect. We’ve entered a new era, in which our culture is spreading to the masses, and in order for their legacy to continue and grow, the rivalry needs to stay hotter than heat-vision and as meticulously calculated as anything Batman does.
The Avengers have assembled.
Your move, DC.