Comic Books

DC’s Cinematic Universe And The Foibles That Plague It

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I was following the network upfronts a few days ago when it occurred to me, for the first time without a single reservation, just how lost DC Entertainment is in attempting to birth their own cinematic universe into life. It’s depressing and annoying all at the same time, especially when you see how perfectly they’ve integrated their characters within the television landscape; an integration which has already successfully achieved a Marvel-like universe. It bemuses me how they can create and produce such well-written shows with pinpoint accuracy – shows so high in production excellence, yet give us films like Green Lantern and Man of Steel. Although, for the most part, I appreciated what they were trying to achieve with Superman, primarily focusing on his alienation and loneliness as a being from another world – someone different from those he’s surrounded by. Their attempts to humanize a “god” was an interesting angle. In the end, however, it left much to be desired. I won’t bother to waste your reading-time with bullet-points on how disappointing Green Lantern was; it’s not worth the effort. I’m just as curious about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as any other lifelong reader, but its first trailer didn’t even erect a single nipple. All it got from me was a subtle “Meh.” Don’t even get me started on Suicide Squad and the abomination that is turning out to be – Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn aside, of course; I think she looks great despite moaning and groaning from the online community. So you see, it’s these sorts of misguided shortcomings that have kept DC from seeing their plans fully realized. They have decades of great storytelling ripe for live-action adaptation just waiting to be nurtured into fantastic cinema, yet they continually give us movies better left to the latter half of the 20th century; and here’s the worst part: they own all of their properties – every single one. Whereas Marvel is forced to use a much more limited selection due to many of its properties being sold during the company’s bankruptcy in the early 90s, DC has an entire catalog to play with. It’s almost like the same buffoons who ran their properties back in the late 80s and throughout the 90s are still, to this day, running the show over in Burbank; a proverbial stomping ground for Jedi-Padawans of Jon Peters.

Fortunately we have the saving grace of television to pick up the slack. If you haven’t already seen the trailers for Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, I’d suggest getting on that ASAP; or you can just scroll to the bottom of this here rambling and take a convenient gander. They’re just two new, great-looking additions to an already evolving universe, one that commenced with Arrow and The Flash. These shows give us a fun – and yes, sometimes dark – ride through the world of DC superheroes in much the same way their comic book source material has since the beginning days of the medium; and they’re killing it, by the way. They even pulled a “Marvel” and gave me iZombie, a property I knew very little about before its pilot premiere – and made me love it. But not all is sunshine and rainbows in DC-land. Sadly, one of their compatriots has fallen victim to the all-too-familiar death throe of network cancellation. It was confirmed this past week that NBC wouldn’t be renewing Constantine for a second season. This was a great show that just didn’t resonate with the mainstream audience in large enough numbers; but I’m crossing my fingers for an alternative network to rescue it from an untimely death. Gotham also deserves a shout-out. Although, I think its producers are trying to shoehorn too much content, in too short a time. Their impatience for organic-storytelling is preventing Gotham from reaching its full potential, I think. But since the show has been green-lit for a second season, I hope this changes in the fall.

We are indeed living through another Golden Age of Television, my friends. Where once we only had Smallville to salivate over, we now have spandex-clad superheroes running amok all over the boob tube. I mean, we have Ray Palmer – the freakin’ Atom, making regular appearances on both Arrow and The Flash! A cross-pollination of properties, the likes of which we have merely scratched the service of in television. Chubby, murse-carrrying 8-year-old me would have choked on his 8th slice of pizza just ruminating over a reality in which such an idea existed; chubby, murse-carrying 39-year-old me surely is, and he’s livin’ it. ‘Tis a wonderful thought to know some things never change….

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