Monday, April 20, 2015

Warner Releases Batman v Superman Trailer: On the Business of Perma-Dark Comic Book Movies



 By +Tim Beyers


Issue 19 of +The Full Bleed tackles the newly released official Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer. I've been thinking about why it has to be so dark. Is it really so bad that DC is embracing superhero noir? Maybe, but maybe there's a business decision to be materially different from Marvel. 

Kevin Tsujihara has said as much in interviews -- that DC and Marvel can and should be different and offer a different experience. “The worlds of DC are very different,” Tsujihara said at a recent investment conference. “They’re steeped in realism, and they’re a little bit edgier than Marvel’s movies.”

As I see it, Marvel is making a world that -- even with its challenges -- is so wondrous that we'd want to live in it. DC is making a world that reflects what it might be like if superheroes really existed. Director Zack Snyder's stories offer no joy, no hope, no sunshine. Superman is bright because the rest of the world is so dark. Humanity is cruel, cold, and undeserving. As director he seems to be aping Rorschach: touring us through the DC Universe while explaining his disgust with how humanity behaves.

Or maybe Snyder is just bringing to life his favorite era of comics. The late 1980s were a dark time filled with fear of nuclear war, crime-ridden cities, and hapless politicians. Reality gave birth to a whole class of noir comics. From Frank Miller's run on Daredevil, to Bill Sienkiewicz's gritty pages in Moon Knight, to Alan Moore's Watchmen, which Snyder has long claimed as one of his favorites, dark was selling back then. Now Warner and DC are betting that it will again.

There's logic in the wager. Man of Steel, a paranoid tale about a world more likely to fear Superman than embrace him, earned just over $668 million worldwide during its theater run. Add in another $105 million from home video sales and a reported $170 million from product placement and you've a healthy win for Warner and DC. Why mess with what's working?

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you want to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Do you like that DC's movies are taking a darker turn? Leave a comment below or ping me on Google+Facebook, or Twitter.

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