DC wouldn’t be anything if it wasn’t for their comics, so it seems like the logical place to start. About seven years ago DC pulled off their masterpiece Infinite Crisis, a gripping tale that set to clean up parts of the DC universe continuity and set the seeds for amazing storylines later on. Then the economy crashed. Unfortunately when people don’t have a lot of money the first thing to go are luxury items, so DC and Marvel both started to hurt. Their solution? One giant psychotic event after another, forcing readers to pick up stacks of comics just to follow the storyline from month to month. Where Marvel kept things relatively grounded with Civil War and World War Hulk, DC decided to go snooky bananas with more world shattering, reality altering nonsense. The entire universe ended up convoluted and confusing with little hope of recovery, so DC then just gave up and restarted the entire thing with the New 52. Supposedly the idea was to restart the entire universe from square one, and tell all the classic stories through a new modern lens, much like what Marvel did in 2000 with the Ultimate line. Unfortunately when they hit “restart” it didn’t quite restart everything. Events line Blackest Night and Killing Joke had apparently still happened, even though the characters were much younger and events like No Man’s Land and Death of Superman hadn’t happened. This turned what was already a jumbled mess into an even more jumbled mess only with even less answers. Needless to say, fans are not pleased.
Okay I’m just going to say this to get it out of the way, yes the Dark Knight series is awesome and yes we’ll get to the few things DC has done right in a bit, but I want to talk about the other movies. I wish I could say DC has been hit or miss with its films lately but it’s easier to say they’ve been Batman or miss. It started with Superman Returns, which while pretty good if you know the Christopher Reeve Superman storyline was confusing to audiences who didn’t catch a movie franchise that had ended 25 years beforehand. I’m sorry Superman, but especially near the end you’re just not Star Wars, and you can’t expect audiences to pick up where you left off. Next we get a few titles which would’ve been awesome if implemented correctly, namely Watchmen, which was needlessly turned into a gory pornography, Jonah Hex which had the same advertising and film budget as one uses to sell a bike, and Green Lantern, which was just out and out bad. DC has also been releasing straight to DVD and Netflix a bunch of animated films based on some of their most popular comics, which actually has more hits than misses, but let’s face it, comics translate best to animation anyway so this wasn’t a hard feat to pull off. Which brings me to…
DC did the same thing that Fox did to Firefly when they messed up then cancelled Justice League Unlimited a while back. The Justice League cartoon was a tight, no-nonsense show about a team of heroes protecting the earth, and while I did like the fact that two of my favorites, namely Zatanna and Captain Marvel made appearances, I felt opening up the cast for Unlimited hurt the show more than it helped. Then when they were leading up to this big old war between the villains and heroes, they cancel the show and end with this stupid fight where they team up to take out Darkseid. A massive letdown for sure. Next DC tried to recapture the magic of Batman the Animated Series with The Batman, a show about Batman in high school of all places, and Brave and the Bold, which to me felt like DC Muppet Babies. Then we got a star, a glimmer of hope on an already bleak world in the form of Young Justice, and I already told you what they did to that. I could mention Smallville, and I will by saying take Dawson’s Creek and mix it with Twilight and there you go, except again, shout out to Zatanna who was totally awesome in her parts. DC’s been hinting at a show called Arrow, supposedly about Green Arrow and yesterday I heard rumor of Amazon which will follow Wonder Woman, but as I said, comics best translate to animation so live action is problematic at best.
As I said earlier, yes, DC has done a couple things right, which basically means just writing Batman on a big piece of paper and circling it a bunch of times. The Dark Knight series was excellent, some of the Batman titles in the comic books are actually okay, as long as he doesn’t deal with any of the other heroes in that world, and even some of the animated films are decent, I highly recommend Batman: Gotham Knight for the Anime buffs out there. The problem is that Batman alone cannot save DC Comics, and he shouldn’t have to. I know a lot of people give grief to DC heroes for being overpowered, but they still have some really great stories to tell, and they don’t always need to involve an emotionally bankrupt rich man running around in his undies. I have high hopes for the new Man of Steel movie coming soon, but if DC is really going to get back on track with its fans and the rest of the world, they need to stop playing catch-up with the Avengers and go back to what made them great in the first place: Great stories with heroes we loved.
And more Zatanna.