Warner Bros Films have announced a Batman/Superman movie, to lead into their now-delayed Justice League movie. This comes off the heels of the extremely lukewarm reception to Man of Steel. Rumors abound just what Warner Bros/DC has in mind for this film, but very little is set. Much of this uncertainty seems to stem from DC’s inability to put together a decent comic book-based movie. Even the much-lauded Dark Knight Trilogy’s success wasn’t due to its comic book-ness but its uncomic book-ness. In many ways, it hasn’t been since Batman Returns that DC’s put out a true comic book movie that was, well, good. Attempts like Catwoman and Green Lantern are synonymous with abject cinema failure and even partial successes like Batman Forever and Superman Returns have been grudgingly received.
This is especially strange because DC has a near-perfect record with animated works. DC’s direct-to-video animated films are the stuff of legend. Pretty much everything from Batman the Animated Series forward has been highly acclaimed by critic and fan alike. And while animation and live-action are not interchangeable, the two are closer than either are with comics. And yet, despite having a vast reservoir of animated resources to work from, DC (or at least Warner Bros) seems determined to start from scratch with the live-action movies.
From a fan’s perspective, this seems to speak to a lack of confidence in their animation department’s storytelling abilities, which doesn’t make sense. Their DVD releases are eagerly awaited and are almost universally well-received. So why are DC and/or Warner Bros so hesitant to look for inspiration there? A perfect roadmap has been laid out. Cast properly and, with the appropriate special effects, one could almost make a live-action remake scene-by-scene and be in the running for a great film. And yet, they avoid this goldmine. It just doesn’t make sense.