I've complained a lot in this space about Warner Brothers' seeming cluelessness as it regards their DC Comics properties. While Marvel manages to rock the entire world with their sprawling cinematic universe, which has managed to have an interconnected continuity over a dozen or so films and now three or four TV shows, Warner has struggled. To give credit where it's due, DC has for years done very well with animated fare. But animated fare is seen as "for kids" moreso than live action, and certainly doesn't have the impact of epic movies.
The Dark Night series was of course hugely successful, and there have been other DC properties that have been successful. There are some that I feel were unfairly maligned (I still don't understand the hate for Superman Returns or Green Lantern, which you'd think would have gotten some credit for at least trying amid a DC-character drought). And then, there were big successes like Man of Steel which still managed to critically disappoint. Finally, with Man of Steel though, we got the first hints that DC was finally going to start their own interconnected universe. Woo-hoo! We found out Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman would all be in the same stories, and that it would be in a sequel that would set up the Justice League of America! Awesome!
However, my feeling that Warner Brothers would screw it all up remains. There are several reasons for this (besides, you know, past precedent). Amid this fledgling universe, a few different things happened. It was decided to reboot Batman again, and then hire Ben Affleck to play him (I'm cool with this, many others had reservations, to say the least). A new version of Green Arrow was brought to TV, also rebooted, and different from the one in the long-running Smallville. Arrow was a hit, so far as they exist on the CW network, big enough to warrant spinning out its own universe. Arrow begat The Flash--an even bigger success--and the two shows are on their way to creating combined universe Justice League, as well as other spin-offs. We've also got Gotham, a show about Batman as a boy, that is unmoored by continuity to any of the other properties. And a new Supergirl show that may or may not be connected to other established continuities.
|The DC TV universe is flourishing, probably by surprise.|
On the horizon are a movie version of The Flash that is separate and apart from the TV version, the coming JLA movie (also separate from TV), and if all of that works well, presumably all of the other big DC characters. So, why complain? After decades of rare gems from DC properties, amid scads of crappy product (when we got any product at all), we have a wealth of options!
Well, because we comics fans are nerds. We complain endlessly about things we like as much as things we don't. But we feel justified because it just looks like they're making a mess of things. We've got two simultaneously blooming main DC Comics universes, big screen and little screen. We've managed to live with this before, with separate continuities for Superman with each new TV show (Adventures of Superboy, Lois & Clark, Smallville), that sometimes overlapped with Superman movies on the calendar. But, will the public be able to sort out two completely different versions of The Flash at the same time? Two Supermen (assuming Supergirl on TV still is his cousin)? And yet another rebooted Green Lantern? Maybe two? We're supposed to also get Shazam! on the big screen, but will they also want him on TV? Will either of them be properly called "Captain Marvel," even though Marvel is introducing their own character with the same name?
Comic geeks can rationalize and "fan wank" anything away, if they like it. They'll complain about it all even if they like it. But you need a broader audience, and if you start out by confusing them? It just seems like a bad idea. And why exhaust ideas or risk repeating yourself with competing versions of the same characters? I just really don't get it. I'd like to see someone at Warner Brothers take the reins like Marvel has done, and make a cohesive whole out of all of it, even if it's a "multiple universes" connection. That would be the most "DC" thing they could even do!