Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What will DC / Warner Brothers do next?

A while back, I wrote about the success Marvel Studios has seen with their character-driven, shared-universe superhero movies (of which I have become a big fan), and speculated about what we might see from them in the future. If they so desired, rival comics company DC (which is owned by Warner Brothers) has just as rich a catalog of super beings that it could use to create its own shared universe.

The DC / Warner Brothers track record isn’t as strong as Marvel’s lately, with only Christopher Nolan’s Batman series achieving critical and box office success, but the Green Lantern movie that opens this weekend could change that if it manages to launch this little-known character into its own franchise. And just as Marvel will bring together its various franchises into The Avengers next year, DC has hinted that they will develop their own team-up movie for 2013, featuring its greatest heroes, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and more. Assuming this is true, and that the success of The Avengers convinces DC to follow a similar path, we could be seeing two DC movies per year starting in 2014.

Here are the movies that have either been released already or are in the works, which could become part of that shared universe:

  • Batman Begins
  • The Dark Knight
  • Green Lantern
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Superman: Man of Steel

DC / Warner has had a lot of flops, but if they can match Marvel’s formula for success, here are the additional films we could see from them for the rest of this decade:

  • The Justice League – While Nolan’s Batman trilogy took place in a world without superpowers, I would keep it as part of the continuity, evolving the character and his world instead of completely rebooting the franchise. That would make Batman the elder statesman of this team-up movie, and explain why this ‘ordinary man” is able to stand toe-to-toe with these extraordinary beings. Even if they don’t use Christian Bale as Batman, I hope they will hint that Nolan’s trilogy is still valid. The movie should also exist in the same world as Green Lantern, although they could use an alternate Green Lantern like Jon Stewart instead of the Hal Jordan character played by Ryan Reynolds in this year’s movie.
  • Wonder Woman – One of DC’s “big three” (along with Superman and Batman), Wonder Woman deserves her own movie franchise. But don’t expect it to be campy like the Linda Carter TV show. Today’s Wonder Woman is a fierce warrior who is not afraid to shed blood. We should have a taste of this in The Justice League, where her sense of morality will clash with Superman’s.
  • Green Lantern 2 – Hal Jordan is back, and Sinestro turns evil.
  • The Flash – One of the coolest of all the superheroes, this should be a fun, action-packed origin story for the world’s fastest man, with ground-breaking special effects to show the high-speed action: I suggest every scene happens in real time from one camera angle, and then another angle shows it to us slowed down so that the Flash looks normal speed.
  • Superman 2 – Go cosmic in this installment, and eventually let us see Darkseid. But Superman can’t defeat him on his own, which sets up…
  • The Justice League 2 – The heroes travel to Apokolips to battle Darkseid and his minions.
  • AquamanI’ve written about this before: Aquaman all too often seems like the lamest superhero, but there’s a ton of potential here if done right.
  • Batman 4 – Christopher Nolan has said he won’t be back to direct, but this franchise is too good to die. Please keep the spirit of Nolan’s films, and keep the super-human elements to a minimum.
  • Green Lantern 3 – Star Sapphire is the villain in this one.
  • Superman 3 – Lex Luthor can take more of the stage here, but he should be menacing and should put Superman in harm’s way, with lots of action. And Superman should get his ass handed to him – but no kryptonite!
  • Wonder Woman 2 – Again, make her badass. That is all.
  • Green Arrow: Escape from Super Max – This long-rumored film features the Green Arrow, who has been wrongfully imprisoned in a high-security jail for super-villains. With no super powers of his own, he must find a way to battle the baddies, break out and save the world.
  • The Justice League 3 – Keep the franchise going with another Earth-saving, action-packed movie.
  • Batman 5 – Introduce Robin in this one as a Batman emulator who’s good enough to actually be a hero on his own. He never becomes Batman’s sidekick, but does earn his respect.
  • Adam Strange – Some good, Flash Gordon-style space camp – plus superheroes.
  • Teen Titans – Robin gets his own team in a film that will hopefully capture the magic of the Marv Wolfman / George Perez comics of the early 1980s.
  • Superman 4 – One word: Brainiac.

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