The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been a runaway success despite the fact that its entire premise is placing five or so superheroes on a New York street and blowing it up. Stir in a few monsters, an entire vat of testosterone-fuelled angst and a bit of romance, and you’ve baked yourself a movie franchise.
Somehow, a similar formula didn’t quite work for DC, perhaps because the Frank Miller-style leanings of the recent Batman v. Superman film failed to appeal to the superhero genre’s most excitable demographic – young people and children – perhaps just because we’re all a little tired of watching grown men grappling on the TV.
Both franchises are far from exhaustion – there’s 80 years of comic book stories to get through yet – but, while the MCU is facing a bit of an identity crisis (the upcoming Infinity War saga seems to exist solely to dispatch a few of the “like, 67 characters,” to quote one of the Russo brothers), DC’s upcoming super-films look more like the beginning of something than a grisly end.
With the cynicism out of the way, it’s time to admit that there’s no such thing as superhero fatigue. The appeal of scantily-clad wonder-people is so great that comic books are a ready source of inspiration for industries as varied as animation (remember Captain Planet and Bananaman?) and casino games.
The iGaming website Vegas Casino is a good example of the latter, offering superhero-themed slots like Blast!Boom!Bang, Jade Magician and Voodoo, as well as a unique, Bitcoin-only setup that allows for enhanced security and faster transactions. Players who visit Vegas Casino can also pick up a 1000mBTC welcome bonus to help them get started on their gaming career.
DC’s movie offering has focussed heavily on its two most bankable characters though, Bats and Supes, to the extent that Hollywood has to be running out of ways to depict the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents in Crime Alley and the poor boy’s encounter with a thousand confused bats at the foot of a well.
Change is afoot though.
Gal Gadot got her first outing as Diana of Themyscira – Wonder Woman – in Batman vs. Superman but the character has an origin story penciled in for June of this year. Notable for its female director (Patty Jenkins) and materially similar to Steve Rogers’ first outing as Captain America, it’ll be a first World War epic featuring canon villains Ares and Circe.
It’s one of several solo outings for DC’s superheroes scheduled for release in the next three years. Others include Aquaman (2018), Shazam (2019) and Cyborg (2020). However, the acid test for the company is getting 2017’s team-up movie, Justice League, right. As evidenced by the popularity of The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s a huge appetite for this kind of film.
However, DC’s desire to push the kind of gritty, violent themes that made Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy so popular has come at a detriment to both mainstream popularity and the audience’s suspension of disbelief in recent years. Did anybody really believe that Superman would show the almost complete disregard for human life he demonstrated in Man of Steel?
DC’s comic books in general are hyper-violent, especially with villains like Dollmaker in Batman, but that grungy, grindhouse aesthetic is entirely at odds with the PG or PG-13 rating most films aim for. So, with something like Batman v. Superman, the miserable, unrelenting storyline is incompatible with the target audience – young teens.
DC needs a bit of comic relief; in that, it’s a shame that Justice League doesn’t involve Hal Jordan – the cocky, self-assured Green Lantern. While he’s a founding member along with Martian Manhunter (also missing), that development will probably have to wait until after 2020’s Green Lantern Corps.