The Current Status of DC Comics and the Future
This headline appears like a fear-mongering way to get someone to read my story. But in reality, it is something that bends closer to the truth than speculation. Approximately a month ago, DC Comics laid off about 600 people, according to Comics Beat.
This is worrisome because it signals that there are some struggles in the comic book industry. Warner Bros. even laid off some high-level executives, including the CFO and the President of the company. They implemented many of the layoffs in the television and movie department. That leads to the topic for the day.
What does DC Comics need to do to ultimately prevent their demise? Well, the first solution would be to create good comics. It always starts with the comics. A good comic book story comprises prominent characters, character motivations, and a storyline that is entertaining enough to suck readers in. With DC Comics, they have created some of the most popular comic book storylines of all time.
GamesRadar surveyed readers a few years back on what they felt were the best comics of all time. There were a few that stuck out to me. One of them was The Return of Barry Allen. Here you have a story about one of the most popular characters ever to play the Flash. It ties in a story that initially started over 23 years ago with Crisis on Infinite Earths, which was the event in which Barry Allen died. It turned out; he did not die, but merely got sucked into the Speed Force. This story took all the emotions of his return and also built character arcs for everyone associated with the Flash.
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller was probably one of the darkest Batman stories anyone has ever read. It tells the story of a mid-50s Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement to fight as Batman once again. Not only does he encounter mutants, but he also has to deal with the return of the Joker. The story itself was dark, dystopian, and well-
written by a master at his craft. It also fleshed out other characters in the Batman mythos with the element of time, explaining what happened to the Dark Knight and everyone around him.
Crisis on Infinite Earths, as mentioned earlier, changed the landscape for the comic book world as we knew it. The event caused the disappearance of Barry Allen and also killed off Supergirl. The reason they wrote this comic was that readers at the time were becoming disengaged with the multiple timelines and universes that DC Comics had set up. With this comic, they wrote a storyline to rectify that. Many heroes died attempting to stop the villainous Anti-Monitor and it caused a rupture in the multiverse that DC Comics, creating one singular timeline. It
also introduced readers to a brand new Flash (he was Kid-Flash at the time) in Wally West.
The point of these examples is to illustrate that DC Comics needs to go back to what worked. What worked before was creating marvelous stories with interesting characters. DC Comics could erase Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman from their history and they would still have some most interesting characters in pop culture.
The company has Billy Batson, aka Shazam. He is a 12-year-old boy that turns into a majestic superhero when he yells the words “Shazam”. He is also one of the oldest superheroes in comic history.
Another character that DC Comics has but undervalues and barely uses is Static. He is a teenage superhero that could mesh with the Teen Titans, or act on his own. The Static Shock cartoon achieved popularity and success. Yet despite that, Static has not appeared in any other television shows and is not in the plans for the DC Entertainment universe. He could easily be the DC version of Spiderman if they used him correctly.
The comics are just the beginning. The movies need to be great to gain attention. The key to attracting people has always been to make good movies. Creating good movies involves good writing for characters and a storyline that will hook you. It does not involve catering to fringe groups who will not even buy a ticket to go see the movie. Comic book fans are the bread and butter of the industry and why these comic books have movies, to begin with.
Take Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam, for example. Those are splendid examples of movies done correctly with little to no interference by DC Comics executives. That was always the biggest reason for past failures. Batman v Superman and Justice League are prime examples of movies where directors and executives clashed to where an extended cut is being promoted years after the movie originally aired.
Also, movies like Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey had issues that prevented them from being the best movies it could be. In the Suicide Squad, one of the many issues with the movie involved the villain itself and the way they used the Joker. When you have a character like the Joker, you don’t give him ten minutes of screen time. With Birds of Prey, they used characters that had no business being in the movie, starting with Harley Quinn. The writers wrote the Black Canary character poorly, and the actress did not play her well either. The other characters were not much better either.
With that said, there are some positives to look forward to with the future of DC Comics. There are several movies to look forward to, including Wonder Woman 1984, The Batman, and the sequels to Shazam and Aquaman. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will star as Black Adam in a movie that serves as an indirect prequel to Shazam. Along with that, DC Comics has several video games that they announced and also will create an animated movie based on the comic The Long Halloween. News like that will produce excitement and fill fans with hope. The goal is for DC Comics to continue heading in the right direction and avoid the mistakes of the past.
Image Credit: DC Comics