So it’s time to tell a dirty nasty secret. The DC Universe has been in live-action for a long long time. It’s just not in the form that most people want. Yes, since Bart Allen first came to Smallville in “Run” in 2004, DC comics has had a consistent multi-character introduction in their TV shows, as well as some convincing and well-written longer story lines. Looking at Arrow alone, nearly twenty DC related characters popped up in the show’s first season! That is quite a lot for a show that was supposed to be isolated from the larger DC Universe. And with the introduction of even more characters coming this season, it has made me wonder why DC/ Warner Bros cannot seem to translate this success to the big screen. Is it simply a matter of finding the right people, or something systemically larger?
With any major property there is a certain necessity to find the right people who encapsulate the character’s heart. Sure, there is a rigorous casting process but once it is completed, these other characters or hints at a larger world entice a viewer to remain interested in the program to to see how all of these parts play with one an other. That is what helps to make comics in general great: not all of the characters are the same and like each new power, they offer variations on what it means to be a hero or a villain.
It’s a formula DC has used to excellent effect in its animated fare, and not just it’s animated films. Justice League: Unlimited and Young Justice both benefitted from DC’s wide catalogue of characters. Both shows featured a rotating cast, making sure no one character was left out too long or that any relationship became stale. Clearly, they know their characters’ potential, and yet they seem destined to never break out of animation.
Somehow it feels as if DC has had the opposite results from what they have wanted with their big screen blockbuster properties, which have never truly taken off. Marvel is just now getting into the realm of strange and bizarre with Guardians of the Galaxy and are continuing to explore just how far they can push the limits of a comic book film. Yes with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. coming later this month, Marvel is hoping to expand their universe to the small screen allowing for cross platform integration. We have yet to see how successful this plan will be or if it is successful what will be the ramifications. Will Marvel be able to bring the heroes for hire to the small screen for weekly adventures?
Of course, it is a matter of attracting viewers in the end and managing to create a truly inclusive world for the characters to play around in. Right now, Marvel has the lead in world-building and well-rounded character on the big and little screen, but I believe DC will catch up to them in due time. They just might have to do this through characters not named Superman or Batman in order for it to stick. Come on guys, let us see the rest of the JLA!
What do you think of DC’s live-action universe?