One of the most pervasive bits of internet discussion since around 2008 has been DC vs. Marvel in terms of cinematic output. The year that The Dark Knight and Iron Man hit theaters, fanboys began speculating as to who had a better handle on their characters. In the years since, Marvel has assembled the Avengers and is expanding their universe to a deal with Netflix so everyone can get a little bit of screen time. Meanwhile, DC has been somewhat sluggish in establishing themselves on screen. Batman completed a trilogy, Green Lantern tanked, and Man of Steel seems to be their first step in establishing a larger over-arching universe. Essentially, they’re trying to play catch up in terms of branding. Some other smaller DC projects hit theaters in that time period (Jonah Hex was a thing, people. Never forget) but DC properties on film haven’t felt as cohesive as Marvel’s.
Now the word has come down the pike that DC is investing in smaller-budgeted film adaptations of their properties. According to reports, DC wants to release two smaller feature films per year starting in 2014. Suicide Squad, Booster Gold, Team 7, and Deathstroke have been mentioned. These films would be produced for around 20-30 million, making it easier for DC to recoup the money spent and hopefully grow their brand to a place that the general public understands that they have a shared universe the way Marvel does.
I think this is a great idea but again I have to question DC’s methods. Is the best way to get people excited about a shared DC universe? Is anyone really going to get excited about a Team 7 film? Also nobody has really remarked on how they plan to tie these things together. With Marvel, all of their films flowed into each other leading up to an eventual endgame with The Avengers. The obvious endgame for DC would be a Justice League film, but how does Deathstroke’s solo film tie into that. I just don’t see what the bigger picture is here other than using the DC brand for a 2x a year cash-grab.
This, to me, is indicative of DC’s production problems in general. They want Marvel’s success but they don’t want to put in the hard work. It’s why we’re getting a new Batman shoehorned into the Superman sequel instead of letting both characters breathe on their own. Eventually, when these parts are all supposed to come together, it will be a miracle if they fit properly because, from what I can tell, there is no master plan to this yet. DC simply wants to throw characters at us until something sticks.
I don’t think it would have been too much to ask for DC to follow up Man of Steel with, perhaps, a decent Flash movie that itself led into a Wonder Woman film, leading into a new Batman, showing off the diversity of the DC characters individually instead of throwing these characters into teamup films. I believe that it will be hard for people to care about these characters if they aren’t handled well. The smaller budget films may end up doing well, and if they do I think it will be because fans get a whole film dedicated to a property rather than getting half of a film about an intriguing concept as they appear in another character’s film.