Batman, Superman and the Future at DC

One of the bigger stories coming out of Comic Con, though as per usual dwarfed by Marvel Studios’ slew of announcements, were the announcements by DC about the trajectory of their film universe as it pertains to their superhero properties.

There is the biggest being the Batman/Superman team-up in 2015. For a film that Warner/DC is calling Batman vs. Superman. Then there will be The Flash in 2016 and The Justice League likely following in 2017.

Now, recently just before the Con Diane Nelson, DC Entertainment Chief, sat down to talk to the Hollywood Reporter about DC’s blueprint, as much as possible, and what other characters they have could be likely headed for the big screen.

Man of Steel (2013, Warner Bros.)

What’s interesting, at least at the outset, is that DC is kind of thinking what I’m thinking at times, and in others not so much.

To start on the more optimistic side, two areas where they echo what I’m thinking are: a kind of building-block approach that occurred to me as I watched Man of Steel. Which means, and this hearkens back to how I got back into comics, and more specifically more into superheroes than I had ever been; was that I would get to know a character, or group of characters, then in finding who he/she/they associate with branch out to those other characters. Essentially, as DC builds its cinematic universe it’s doing this. It’s re-established Superman, granted not without some controversy, but certainly in a more palatable way than they tried to a few years back, and will now try to add pieces from there.

In the next film there will be both Batman and Superman. Now, to be honest I was thinking more of a cameo/dovetail approach, having Batman appear in a Superman film as quietly as possible. Then when a third character is introduced, the Flash in this case, have Superman and Batman play ancillary roles.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012, Warner Bros.)

The second way in which DC echoed my sentiments is by putting off the Justice League film. It was like they were trying to put the cart before the horse. The Avengers was gradually built-up to establishing several heroes before they all joined forces. It seemed for a time DC was going to try and shortcut that when the new Batman wasn’t yet decided.

To get to some of the not-so-great aspects of the plan you have a few in the Batman/Superman film potentially. First, Christian Bale has re-confirmed that he will no longer be the caper crusader, which is fine. However, now you’ve hitched yourself to Henry Cavill and whomever happens to be Batman next time out. Hopefully he’s a good choice as past Batman selections are a mixed bag.

The next is the title. And, yes, I’ve discussed titles not meaning much in the past, even as recently as a few days ago, but versus more likely than not means something. I hope it’s just a gimmick to get people to show up should they not like both, but I have a feeling they will be adversarial throughout most of the film. Therefore, they’re setting themselves up for a vacuous experience not unlike those in the horror genre (e.g. Freddy vs. Jason). Batman and Superman have had joint series and stories in comics for years on end, if you’re introducing them to one another on screen, OK, have them not understand each other to start. However, there is a lot of common ground and it would likely be better if they found that quick.

The Green Lantern (2011, Warner Bros.)

God forbid I wander too far in fanboy rantings but even just looking at the most basic facts about these two you can see where these character share a common bond despite their different abilities. They are both orphans who are seeking to right the wrongs of the world and help the helpless, to spare others the suffering they’ve been through. If people got up in arms about Superman smashing buildings and breaking Zod’s neck, having him and Batman duking it out for two hours prior to discovering that “We’re not so different, you and I” isn’t going to engender a lot of good will.

The other mixed bag is that having hopefully successfully launched a third character cinematically (The Flash) The Justice League is up. Now, granted The Justice League could very well re-introduce a newly-recast (or not) Green Lantern, or another character altogether, but I still feel that perhaps one more hero being launched before that film would not be a bad thing: be it Aquaman, Shazam (a.k.a. Captain Marvel) or Wonder Woman. The first and last being the most likely.

Even with some of these reservations it does look like DC is on a far more disarable course than it was. Whereas prior they seemed to say “Well, we still have Batman don’t we?” Now they’re getting their feet firmly planted underneath some stronger properties and developing ones that have a great chance to bolster their standing in the race. For if there’s one thing that Man of Steel unquestionably did is convey the speed of Superman’s flight better than renditions past and maybe, just maybe, putting the Flash on the big screen prior to this current era wouldn’t have felt right. Now it does. There is still some leeriness abut the future but DC seems to have a much firmer plan than it had for its films, and it’s about time.