Here are some ways I believe DC can once again compete in the movie arena.
- No more build-up, get right into it. MARVEL won the origins race by churning out four separate origin movies and then the Avengers. It’s a lost battle for DC, so just cut to the chase and go right for the Justice League movie. Integrate the upcoming Superman, but go right for the JLA. With small origins (hell, Hawkeye got his raison d’être in two sentences) a better plot can be built and spill out to larger movies.
- Or, if you really want to take a gamble and prep audiences for a JLA movie, do a “trinity” movie starring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. These are the three most recognizable superheroes ever so you can spend less time on origin and more on building their personalities and friendship.
- Two words: Wonder Woman. Get your stuff together and fix her. The comics are popular now, but are not very welcoming to a new reader. Get her a movie as soon as possible. Her iconic image is being wasted by lack of direction. Hire someone known for their unique takes on strong female characters to write a screenplay for her… Someone like Joss Whedon. Wait, you already did that and then rejected the script. Good move. Get treatments from every person who wrote Wonder Woman’s comic in the past 20 years. Wonder Woman is a major resource that MARVEL cannot compete with.
- The New Batman should be different than Chris Nolan’s. Seriously, you’re not going to out noir/drama that trilogy, but you still don’t have to rebound with a campy, silly movie. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm have overseen the successful animated Batman for over 20 years. Ask them if they have any live-action ideas. The seventies Batman was loosely based on the James Bond series with far off locales, big time villains with plans for global domination and a thrilling sense of adventure. A return to that style would be new and different at the movies.
- People don’t like comic book movies; they love good movies. Comic book fans don’t want you to revere or reinvent the source material; they want you to respect it. And that doesn’t mean a tossed off reference or two; it means you understand the heart of a character and why s/he does what they do. I think the Captain America movie did this perfectly with two moves: a 90 lb. Steve Rogers says, “I don’t want to kill anyone. I just don’t like bullies.” and then later, he jumps on a grenade to save the lives of his fellow candidates. And this is before his “superhero” transformation.
Movies are not comic books. They are their own medium and attempting to cram 50-plus years of comic book history into a 2-hour movie does both a disservice. Clear, concise storytelling is the key.
So, Warner Bros., Time-Warner, let’s have a meeting.