Despite the fact that DC Comics (originally known as National Allied Publications) has been around since 1935, it has never before featured two of its superheroes – let alone its most iconic – in one feature length motion picture. In the newly released movie, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which opened in theaters Friday, not only we do we get to see two of comicdom’s oldest and most storied characters, we are also presented with Wonder Woman and, (spoiler alert) a glimpse at Aquaman and (it is rumored) The Flash (I have yet to see the film). Obviously DC is looking to take on Marvel with a league of its own.
As I have written previously, when it comes to the Silver Screen, Marvel has forever ruled the roost (Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Iron Man) with DC possessing a monopoly on the boob tube (Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow). Now, DC plans to borrow a page from their cross-town publishing rival’s playbook and release two movies a year over the next five years, building toward their super team team-up. Where Marvel has the Avengers, DC has the Justice League; but first we have to get to know the players. Wonder Woman will be the next to star in her own film. One would assume Aquaman is next.
What is perhaps even more intriguing about “Batman v Superman” is what the story is based on. Frank Miller (he of “3000” and “Sin City” movie fame) is also widely recognized as one of the best comic book writers of our time and, indeed, his top grossing movies were based on his graphic novels. Along with “Watchmen” (which he did not write), “The Dark Knight Returns” comic book series, originally published in 1984, is hands-down the greatest Batman graphic series ever, featuring an aging, retired Bruce Wayne who confronts a bought-and-paid-for by the federal government Superman. You’ll even see certain scenes in “Dawn of Justice” that come directly from “Dark Knight” (including this blog’s featured image). The plot might be different in “Dawn” but its foundation is pure Miller.
And that’s a good thing. Once again, the celluloid creators who have been entrusted to stay true to the characters and their lore are showing they deserve it. Watch “Arrow” and “Flash” on TV and you will see it: references to events and names and obscure characters that demonstrate show writers have done their homework and respect comic history. It’s basically Marketing 101: know who you are trying to reach and then create and message a product or service that will motivate your audience to action. If the trailers for “Batman v Superman” are any indication, we are in good hands once again.