After thirty-seven years of experiencing this world we created, I can, with confidence, state that obtaining success is quite simple. You only need to focus on what you’re good at, capitalize on what people think you’re good at, and then forget the rest. I’m reminded of this after rewatching the wonderful DC Animated Series of Batman and Superman.
When one speaks the name Bruce Timm, you automatically think of these shows. But they’re actually more than that. Because when you watch them, you realize something. You were spoiled. What Timm and company did was create stories and moments that defined and shaped these characters as we know them today.
After one hundred plus episodes of both animated series, I can’t help but think of the DC Film Universe. I look at the passion that Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Bob Goodman, Hilary Bader, Michael Reaves, Martin Pasko, Stan Berkowitz, and countless others put into these things. And most importantly, I see a company that took risks putting these shows on the air (on a dedicated kids TV network nonetheless). And I wonder. Why couldn’t they do this with the films?
Don’t get me wrong. I like the Snyder-, Jenkins-, Sandbergverses, and I am looking forward to James Gunn and whoever else will be contributing to whatever this is. But you can’t deny there’s a particular swag, confidence that went into making these animated shows. And you can say the exact same thing about their unofficial extension animated film counterparts.
I wonder if it’s time for us to acknowledge that what we long for with these films, DC already gave us. It’s all there, in box set form, ready to be consumed. All by you and all at once if you wish. And if you’re a subscriber to HBO Max then it’s ready for you to stream. It’s all there.
Movies, whether we like it or not, are simply going to go away. No one can sit through a two hour movie anymore because we prefer to watch longer forms of storytelling. We want to either binge episodes all at once, or nervously pace the room for a week until the next one drops. But whether you will admit it or not, things have changed. Why cram something into a two and a half hour presentation when you can tell a strong, solid story over a ten episode arc? Why spend time with your favorite characters for the time that it takes you to drive to the next big city, when you can live with them for a solid month?
I don’t believe in the Marvel vs. DC thing. But Marvel owns the movies. They didn’t get there first and there were quite a few starts and stops. But once they got their shit together and got on the same page, they took their characters and made their films to act like comic books. They gave us a multi-book crossover in movie form for Pete’s sake. Hell, they gave us an event. An event! Marvel owns that space.
Does that mean DC should crawl into a corner, suck its thumb, and give up? Should they stop making movies entirely? Of course not. I love Henry Cavill’s Superman and I know he’ll be back for another go at Superman. I enjoyed the Wonder Woman films and I know for sure the Birds of Prey film was sorely underrated.
But it still confuses me on why they just can’t take what they’ve already done in the animated space and translate that to film. Hell, they’ve done it on ‘television’ with Titans, Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, and with the CW shows (well most of them). There is no competition here. DC owns this space.
So what’s the problem? Focus on what you’re good at and capitalize on what you think you’re good at. And at least acknowledge that you’ve done it before. Get your shit together. The other company has.