The year THE AVENGERS came out I was in the graphic novels section in a Barnes & Noble and I overheard a group of teenagers bad mouthing DC, at the time I brushed it off as just stupid things teeny bobbers say. Not long ago, someone on another podcast mentioned something that I was shocked to hear: 8 out the top 10 selling comic books were Marvel and the other 2 was a DC title and THE WALKING DEAD. So is DC as a brand still relevant and if not is the coming DC cinematic universe destined to mostly fail, is it only Batman and maybe Superman that matters or can DC broaden the appeal of their B list characters as Marvel has? (via EMAIL)
JETT SAYS: Dave, yes, the DC brand is still relevant. Batman is clearly the most popular comic book character amongst the mainstream audience – I don’t think that’s even arguable. Both Superman and Batman are American pop culture icons. I don’t care how much money and how popular Robert Downey, Jr. is as Iron Man on film, the character of Iron Man still can’t hold a candle to either Superman or Batman when it comes to history and “iconic-ness,” if you will.
However, I will say that other than the Batman monthlies (mainly BATMAN), DC lags behind Marvel when it comes to overall sales. I don’t know if you can say it’s because of the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe because I believe Marvel has overall outsold DC for years now. Also, only two of 2014’s best-selling comics -- THOR #1 and ROCKET RACOON #1 – feature characters that are part of the MCU. Also, last year’s best-selling comic – SPIDER-MAN #1 – features a character who’s last film (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) was considered a major disappointment. Heck, MAN OF STEEL did better at the box office than any MCU film except for the IRON MAN movies, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, and, of course, THE AVENGERS. And the success of “The Dark Knight Trilogy” speaks for itself.
And keep in mind we’re talking comic books here, OK? Quite frankly, not that many people are still reading comics, relatively speaking. By far, most of the people who go see a comic book film – be it based on DC or Marvel – don’t read comic books. So, I caution you not to equate comic book sales with how popular or iconic these characters are or aren’t.
Can films give comic book sales a boost? Absolutely. But overall, I think people have been reading what they’ve, well, been reading for years now. It’ll be interesting to see how BATMAN v SUPERMAN and future DC Cinematic Universe films affect – if at all – DC comic book sales. It’s not like The Flash or Green Arrow comics are setting the world on fire even though TV shows based on those characters are quite successful.
I've been a fan of your site for 10 years, and appreciate the way you run your site without spoilers, and conduct yourself in a professional way. While I'm a fan of Ben Affleck as Batman, and believe he will be fantastic in the role, I have some concerns about it. With the potential DCCU just starting, why would Warner Bros. take its most popular character, and have him be at the tail end of his career? Wouldn't it have made more sense to have Batman in his early to mid 30's character, as opposed to the mid 40's? If the DCCU really takes off, aren't they painting themselves in a corner with an old Batman that limits how many appearances they can use him in future films? Thanks for all the work you've done, and best of luck in all future endeavors! (via EMAIL)
JETT SAYS: Thanks for the nice words Bryan! On to your question…
I get what you’re saying about the age of Batman, but I don’t share you’re concern. I think the bottom line when it came to this new cinematic incarnation of Batman that Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. wanted to do something different. We’ve already seen Batman in his prime in several previous Batman movies and I’m sure that they wanted to go in a different direction than what we’ve experience with Batman on film over the last quarter century.
Think about it this way Bryan, by the time that Ben Affleck is done playing Batman, he will have portrayed the character on film more than any other actor – BATMAN v SUPERMAN, both JUSTICE LEAGUE movies, at least one (and maybe two) solo Bat-Films, and probably a few cameos along the way (SUICIDE SQUAD).
Frankly, I don’t see an issue with an older Batman – even a Batman who is in his early 50s. Maybe that’s because I’m only 8 months out from hitting a half century myself!
So I wouldn’t worry about it Bryan. I think that Warner Bros., Snyder, and Affleck know exactly what they are doing with Batman on film and have a plan.
Hi Jett! I have a question. Do you think we will see Bruce in the beginning of BATMAN v SUPERMAN drink alcohol, like he did in THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS? Big fan from Greece! (via EMAIL)
JETT SAYS: Shout out to Greece! Costas, I’d say it depends on if BvS’s Batman (Ben Affleck) is “retired” at the beginning of the film. If he’s still Batmanning, from the get-go, I’d say probably not.
Excellent work on the mailbags over the course of the past year or so. Every week, it's been the most interesting, insightful and relevant reading to be found on the topic. Well done and keep it up! (via EMAIL)
JETT SAYS: Thanks Joseph! I really like doing these mailbags and I’m glad you are enjoying them.
Do you think Snyder and co. originally set out to make a Superman trilogy, but when MAN OF STEEL didn’t perform that well, they decided to include DC's box office guarantee guy (BATMAN!) and ultimately set up a Justice League universe? Also do you think this approach will hurt the chances of a future solo Cavil Superman movie doing well? I mean would non-fanboy/regular movie goers be interested in seeing him without his super friends? (via EMAIL)
JETT SAYS: You are forgiven! (Inside joke between me and this BOFer!) Preasen, I believe that the original plan was for MAN OF STEEL to launch a new Superman film series. Despite what they say publicly, I do believe that Batman was included in the MOS sequel for the very reason you alluded to in your question. Now Zack Snyder will say that when they were tossing around ideas for the next antagonist for Superman in the MOS follow-up, they brought up of the idea of it being Batman and that was that. Sorry, but I don’t totally buy it. Hell, Henry Cavill himself said right after MOS’s release that any team-up films were quite a ways off. Of course, it’s not like MOS was a flop or a disappointment. However, I do believe Warner Bros. thought they had a billion dollar (worldwide) film on their hands when it was released. Combine that with the end of “The Dark Knight Trilogy” and Chris Nolan turning down the offer to “Godfather” the DCCU for Warner Bros. (and perhaps using his Batman in it), I guess rebooting and going with a new Batman on film, sooner rather than later, seemed to be the smart move.
If the solo Batman movie is a final confrontation between Batman and The Joker, how would you feel if the movie mined elements from ENDGAME rather than THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS?
JETT SAYS: Ricky, I could see that working – as long as they leave out the (supposed/hinted) supernatural aspects of The Joker. I’ll say this, Scott Snyder has certainly written arguably the most sinister, evil, and ruthless Joker I’ve seen. However, if I had my druthers, I’d rather it be based on/influenced by Miller’s RETURNS.
Hi Jett, is there anything about BATMAN v SUPERMAN that has been revealed or known by now that you didn't like or agree with?
JETT SAYS: Jorge, very little is known about this film, so I can’t really say that anything that has been revealed I didn’t like. With that said – and in the spirit of your question – I’m still leery of a live-action Batman on film existing in a world of super-humans, gods, aliens, monsters, etc. However, I don’t think the DCCU is going to be as fantastical as many think and will be more “grounded” that one might expect.
Wouldn't be great to see Adam West making a cameo in BvS?! Your thoughts?
JETT SAYS: Jouse, I’m personally not a big fan of cameos like that as I think they’re a bit cheesy – but that’s just me. Um, yeah, I guess that would be cool as long as it’s not some wink-wink, nudge-nudge goof on or about his 60s TV series (which I love).
I like many were disappointed in the cancelation of BEWARE THE BATMAN. Definitely the wrong time slot! But with all the new animated DC movies on their way, I'm sure they'd like to have some sort of television presence in animation. Any current plans for a new Batman or Justice League cartoon in a similar vein the last DCAU was?
JETT SAYS: John, I haven’t heard anything, but I assume that they are pitching ideas for a future animated Batman TV series as we speak. While I did like BEWARE THE BATMAN and yes, it should’ve been aired in primetime, I think they ended BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD a season or two too soon. I bet they wish they could have a do-over on that decision.
Earlier this month there were reports that Warner Bros. had big DC announcements involving BATMAN v SUPERMAN and SUICIDE SQUAD but we haven't heard anything yet. Have you heard anything regarding these announcements? Will we get any big announcements this month?
JETT SAYS: Chance, I’ve heard a few whispers. I’m of the opinion it’s probably a teaser poster and trailer for BvS and a teaser poster and full cast announcement/official synopsis for SUICIDE SQUAD. Heck, I can see an official synopsis drop for BvS as well – it’s about that time for it to happen.
If BATMAN v SUPERMAN is not well received but SUICIDE SQUAD is, do you think Warner Bros. would seriously consider asking David Ayer to direct JUSTICE LEAGUE instead of Zack Snyder?
JETT SAYS: Gabe, I don’t see that happening – even if BvS is a major flop. And let’s be honest, while it may not be good (I think it will be), BvS is still going to make some serious cash. I’m talking biggest comic book movie of all time sort of cash. Regarding Ayer, I can see him doing a few SUICIDE SQUAD films for WB if it’s a success.
The mailbag continues after the jump!
I just read BATMAN: COURT OF OWLS and loved it! I also thought that could fit decently well into a GOTHAM storyline pretty well. What do you think?
JETT SAYS: Jack, absolutely the Court of Owls would fit into the world of GOTHAM. And I actually think the Court is indeed making an appearance on the series soon.
Hi Bill, how many films do you think Zack Snyder, Jared Leto and Chris Terrio will be involved in with DCCU?
JETT SAYS: Glenn, Zack Snyder is Warner’s DCCU “Godfather,” so he’ll be involved with all of them. I don’t think that Jared Leto has any creative involvement in any of the films, but I’m sure he signed a 3 contract for 3 DC-based movies – at least one is the next solo Batman film with Ben Affleck. When it comes to Terrio, he’s already signed to write JUSTICE LEAGUE, PART 1 and I’m sure he’ll write PART 2 as well.
Was it Zack Snyder who decided to have all of the costumed heroes in the JL films? Is it possible that he wanted just the big 3 for the JL films (and just a Wonder Woman cameo for BvS), but the studio opted to have them all in 2 films? (Well 3 films, if you consider the cameos in BvS).
JETT SAYS: I think it was a Warner Bros. decision, ultimately. This “Godfather of the DCCU” kinda just fell into Zack’s lap it seems.
Other than Ben Affleck, who would be your top contenders to direct the next solo Batfilm(s)? Thanks in advance Jett, been with you since the beginning, back then I was nine years old!
JETT SAYS: Damn dude, that’s a long time! Thanks for being with me all these years! Um, Bat-directors other than Affleck? How about Darren Aronofsky, David Fincher (He won’t do it – doesn’t want to do comic book films), or even Zack Snyder (and that wouldn’t shock/surprise me at all).
Any Thoughts on The Joker tease in this week’s GOTHAM preview for “The Blind Fortune Teller” episode?
JETT SAYS: Meh. Too obvious to actually be the future Joker, don’t you think? That wouldn't be that blatant about it, would they? WOULD THEY?
A life-long Batman fan, Bill "Jett" Ramey
is the founder of BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM.
He likes Elvis, Rock-N-Roll,
The University of Texas, cold beer,
Dallas Cowboys Football, and of course...
He resides in the GREAT state of TEXAS with his lovely wife, three kids, and two Boston Terriers.