Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter featured an interview with Diane Nelson, the new Entertainment Chief at DC following a recent shake-up. While Nelson was candid about what projects DC is focusing on (“Sandman is right on top.”) the interview further muddled what is already an unclear cinematic objective from the DC universe.
Nelson could not reveal anything about plans for a Justice League movie or Man of Steel sequel, despite both projects being near-certainties in the minds of comics fans, and this hesitation underscored the entirety of the interview. Even listing specific DC properties that the company would be focusing on—Sandman, Fables, Metal Men, Justice League, and Aquaman—prompted Hollywood Reporter interviewer Borys Kit to wonder about the absence of DC’s most high profile female character Wonder Woman.
“We have to get her right, we have to. She is such an icon for both genders and all ages and for people who love the original TV show and people who read the comics now. I think one of the biggest challenges at the company is getting that right on any size screen. The reasons why are probably pretty subjective: She doesn’t have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes. There are lots of facets to Wonder Woman, and I think the key is, how do you get the right facet for that right medium?”
Nelson shows an intrinsic understanding of the DC universe characters here—an understanding she repeats when discussing Sandman movies—which bodes well for future film efforts. She also stresses that Wonder Woman is one of the top three priorities for DC and Warner Bros.
But the question remains... why can’t DC and Warner Bros. sustain their characters on the big screen? Marvel Studios has forced the issue by being such a ubiquitous presence, but DC has an advantage in that their heroes already possess the iconic presence that Marvel is attempting to construct through its slate of films. Superman and Batman are larger-than-life figures and their most successful film outings present them as such. Why not attack the task of a Wonder Woman movie with the same approach?
Beyond that, where is DC? Marvel’s planned out so far I can barely keep track of them but I couldn’t state a release year for any DC property besides a rumor of Man of Steel 2 in 2015. Does DC and Warner Bros. have a plan? (Keep in mind that this interview was done before any SDCC announcements, so the answer to that question could be a show-stealing thunderous yes.) Nelson’s response was a little odd:
We don’t want to oversaturate with superheroes, and DC is much more than superheroes. [...] part of our job is getting consumers to understand that there is more breadth and depth to DC beyond those primary DC characters. Our job has to be, let’s have great success with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Aquaman but then build on that to expand the universe for the broad populace.
So...eventually flood the cinemas with DC characters, but don’t oversaturate?
In a few days these questions could be entirely moot, but for now the backtracking statements are confusing. Although the fact that they seem dedicated to getting them right is very heartening. I’d rather see them done well than done at all.
The notion of a more varied superhero film universe that Nelson mentions is also intriguing. Would DC keep their movies disconnected? Will Batman and Superman never meet? Would we see a year that contains a Sandman movie, the Justice League, and maybe an animated Pixar-esque Metal Men? DC embracing these varied possibilities would certainly make them stand out against the Marvel Film Universe.
Time will tell, I suppose. But seriously DC, no Aquaman movie before Wonder Woman. Come on.
Chris Lough is the production manager of Tor.com and doesn’t know what you mean by “O.M.A.C.” Is that like a Sodastream?