DC Comics was once the proud owners of some of the most iconic characters in fiction. The Death of Superman made the front page of mainstream magazines. The single issue sold over 2.5 million copies. Superman’s human counterpart, Batman was just as popular. The Dark Knight has found success in all forms of media including movies, video games, and even television shows. However, once the creative minds at Warner Bros. decided to take over creative control outside of the comic, everything went downhill fast.
On the small screen, what some people would consider side characters have kept DC Comics going. The CW has had a nice run with both their versions of the Arrow and The Flash. The Flash has been a nice surprise this season using both heavy action and light-hearted fun at times to tell the story of Barry Allen.
On the other hand, Arrow seemed to run into a brick wall in its third season. A pretty terrible season two finale started season three off on a bad foot, and it never really got back on track. It was so bad, the season three finale all but rebooted the series entirely. Forbes touched on this in their finale review.
“This season was a mess. It suffered, perhaps, from the emphasis on its sister show The Flash. It suffered from confusing plots, lackluster villains, weird character drama, bad Hong Kong flashbacks, and a romance between Oliver and Felicity that just didn’t work.”
The third show from the DC Comic lineup was Gotham on Fox Television. The story focuses on a rookie Gotham police officer Jim Gordon. The idea of Gordon running everything by the child version of Bruce Wayne is downright ludicrous. It did manage to get a season two, but one has to wonder how long that will last. There are a lot of Batman fans who have not embraced it.
Constantine, based off the DC/Vertigo Comic Hellblazer premiered on NBC in October, and after its 13 episodes aired — on the dead zone known as Friday night — it was pulled and was subsequently cancelled
The fifth show is Supergirl. It will begin in the Fall 2015. In what has to be one of the biggest “What Were They Thinking” moments, CBS is airing the show opposite of Gotham on Monday nights. How does Warner Brothers and DC Comics let that happen? The Supergirl trailer had mixed reviews at best.
The CW will give us yet another title full of DC Comic heroes and villains in Legends of Tomorrow. This show will have Atom from Arrow. We also get three characters coming from The Flash. The Firestorm character I’m okay with, but the two guys playing Captain Cold and Heat Wave are enough to turn most people off of this show. They appeared in the worst episodes of the first season of The Flash. I can’t imagine them carrying this show.
I wish I could say that DC Comics worst problem was in the field of television, but I would be stretching the truth at best. The movie division is heading for some hard times. Will they make money with their properties? Probably. Since the foreign movie market is salivating for anything action, people will go see DC Comic’s stuff, but they are kidding themselves if they think they can match Marvel’s output.
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice made the mistake of dropping their first teaser around the time of Star Wars Celebration. That was not a smart move. If you are going to do something like that, it better be lights out, and all it received from most people were groans. Again, it was another example of Warner Bros. not knowing how to market iconic characters.
The other film we have seen bits-and-pieces of is Suicide Squad. First, the cast is less than stellar. The leaked picture of Jared Ledo as the Joker was awful. Will Smith can’t buy box office numbers, and he has tried. I see where they are trying to play off of Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham games, but if they think this can outperform something like Guardians of the Galaxy, they are kidding themselves.
Finally, DC Comics itself is not performing at all to expectations. They have been left in the dust when it comes to monthly comics. In March, 2015, Marvel had nine of the top 10 comics in sales. Batman Arkham Knight was the only DC title in the top 10, and it was number nine. It was beaten out by Howard the Duck for goodness sake.
You can argue that the numbers could be a little skewed because Marvel released four Star Wars titles. If you take out those four comics, DC Comics still had just one title in the top 10. That is terrible. The sad thing is DC hasn’t had the number one selling comic for the year since Justice League #1 in 2011 (Numbers courtesy of Comichron).
Now, to think Disney would swoop in and buy DC Comics is a stretch, but something needs to happen with DC. First of all, the simple fact they are owned by Warner Bros. paints them into a rocky corner. The marketing team clearly doesn’t have a handle on what is going on. The creative team is worse than the marketing team. They would also do themselves a favor to drop these mega series in the comics. They need to focus on good stories, and let these characters rebuild what was once great audiences.
I know there are a lot of people out there who think I’m crazy, but the numbers do not lie. DC Comics is getting killed on all three major media fronts despite the fact they have some of the most beloved heroes and hated villains. I’d like to hear what you think. Don’t worry. I have thick skin.
[Image courtesy of DC Comics]