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What the Fuck is Wrong With You? (An Open Letter to Warner Brothers)

Ok, let’s be honest.  This is a two-bit review sight for an obscure medium that isn’t high-budget movies.  I am not in any way influential in either Hollywood or the comics universe.  My voice is no louder than any other fan’s, at the end of the day. But this is the forum that I have, and it’s time for me to use it.

Dear Warner Brothers:  What the fuck is wrong with you? Has anyone over there been watching this whole Marvel Cinematic Universe and thinking “Wow, that looks like a lot of money rolling in.  Think we could do something like that?”  Anyone?  Have any one of you executives thought, for even half a second, that maybe Marvel’s on to something here, and maybe we could do something like that?

Guardians of the Galaxy just set some records.  Highest opening weekend in August, ever.  Of all time.  Not Iron Man, not Captain America…Guardians of the Galaxy.  This is an intellectual property consisting of a space asshole, a talking raccoon, and a houseplant.  Nobody who wasn’t hard-core into comics knew shit about this IP before the movie promotions.  And yet it’s breaking records.

As well it should, because it’s a great fucking movie.

Warner Brothers, you have at your command the entire stable of DC comics characters.  You have a massive and untapped resource of stories at your disposal.  Instead, you are flogging us to death with your grimdark Superman and assorted iterations of Batman.  The Dark Knight movies were cool and all, but they weren’t part of a universe.  They didn’t have an interwoven storyline.

I get that what Marvel’s doing seemed risky at first.  I mean, you’ve got to sign actors to a whole shitpot of movies to even start to make this work.  With 3 Iron-Mans, 3 Avenger’s movies, and a cameo in the Hulk movie, Robert Downey Jr. will have been Tony Stark in seven movies before this is all done with.  That’s a risk.  When Marvel started, back in 2007, to put this whole thing together it was looking like a really risky move. But we’re halfway through Phase II of the MCU, and guess what?  Those fuckers are Scrooge McDucking this shit up over there.

Oh, sure, Man of Steel made some money.  Almost 670 million worldwide.  That’s almost triple what you put into it, so I bet you think you’re doing fine.  Right? Fucking wrong.  Just because your movie hasn’t tanked doesn’t mean you’re operating at your peak.

Captain America 2 beat your Man of Steel handily.  You managed to beat Thor 2 by about 20 million.  What was before Thor 2?  Oh, right.  At 1.2 billion, Tony Stark almost doubled the Clark Kent take.

So, since the beginning of 2013, you’ve released one movie.  One.  And it pulled in 670 million.  Marvel, in turn, has released 4 movies to your one in that time frame.  And they average more box office as you have.

That’s as of right now.  That means I’m only counting opening weekend for Guardians.  I have a sneaking suspicion that number is going up.

Ok, but I’m only counting one of your movies, right?  I mean, in 2012 you had another success.  Dark Knight Rises was fabulous for you, pulling down over a billion worldwide.  Real knock-down drag out success, right?  I mean, what could have possibly beaten that in 2012? Could any movie possibly do that? 

The last time that you, Warner Brothers, used your DC Intellectual Properties to do better business than Marvel was 2009.  And that only happened because Heath Ledger did the Joker the way the Joker should be done.

2009.  You should look at that number with shame.
There was a time in this country when DC v. Marvel was the kind of conversation to start knife-fights in comic book shops.  No longer – it’s clear that Marvel is winning.  There was a time when kids ran around with blankets tied to their necks pretending to be Superman or Batman.  Still happens, a little bit, but you get a lot more kids with garbage can lids pretending to be Captain America or picking up hammers and claiming to be Thor.

Look, I know you don’t want to admit that you’re getting creamed.  After all, it’s not like your comic book movies are failures.  They don’t lose you money, so what do you have to complain about?  You’re making money, right?  How can I call you all fucking nimrods for standing by your otherwise successful shows?

Answer:  Guardians of the Galaxy just broke box office records.  What does that tell us? That tells us that Marvel/Disney is very good at marketing, which is true.  But it also tells us that there are a core of people out there, including myself, who are bought into the MCU.  If they suddenly came out and announced “You know, guys, fuck it.  Next movie is the Great Lakes Avengers,”  I would still go watch that movie.

I basically have faith that Marvel knows what the fuck they are doing, and is taking me along for the ride. DC?  I have no clue.  Dark Knight was amazing, Dark Knight Rises was ho-hum, the Wonder-Woman thing was fucked up, and Man of Steel was a grimdark Superman, which is frankly bullshit.  The PR for Superman v. Batman (with apparently a gratuitous side-serving of Wonder Woman because apparently fuck-that-bitch-why-should-she-get-her-own-movie) is so bad that I already don’t want to see the movie.  I am pretty convinced that you’re going to fuck it up.  So, like I did with Man of Steel, I’ll wait until it’s available on HBO GO and then I’ll check it out when I don’t have to give you my money for it.

My question, my ultimate, resounding question, is this:  How do you fuck this up?  Marvel has given you a fucking blueprint for how to generate a cinematic universe.  They gave you a fucking tutorial on the subject, and they didn’t even charge you.  It’s embarassing as hell that they beat you so thoroughly to the punch, but that’s not the point, really.

Here’s the underlying truth, though:  You still have a geekdom. We’re still here. We watched the Justice League cartoon and JLU and thought they were awesome.  We’re fans of Arrow, and we’re going to be tuning in for Flash.  We love Superman, and Batman, and the Martian Manhunter. We are fucking obsessed with your young heroes, a move Marvel never really successfully pulled off.  You have fucking generations of heroes to present us, from the gruff and surly Wildcat to the quick-thinking Tim Drake.  You’ve got all kinds of awesome stories just waiting to be told, and you have a host of nerds with money in their wallets just salivating.

The talk amongst us, whenever we’re hanging out in a group, is to wonder where the fuck you went wrong.  What the fuck happened to make you stray from this most obvious of paths?  What is going on over there at Warner Brothers to make you think that not building a full cinematic universe, and doing it right, is a good idea?

Here’s what it boils down to, fuckers:  Since they began the cinematic universe, Marvel has locked down 6.54 billion at the box office.  In that time, DC properties have pulled in 2.75 billion.  The cost/benefit balance works out in Marvel’s favor too; their box office profit margin roughly equals yours.

And, again, I’m doing these numbers based on only the opening weekend of Guardians.  I’m guessing you’re going to get rollicked much, much harder by the time that run is done. So, to you people at Warner Brothers, if you are all sitting around a conference table telling yourself what a good fucking job you’re doing, aren’t you wonderful, just run the fucking numbers.  You do have some successful movies, but in terms of marketshare you are getting fucked.  up.  You’ve made some cash, but you could be doing so much more.

Pull your heads out of your ass and put a division together to run the DC comics division of Warner Brothers like Disney runs Marvel.  Let them have their head, and let them tell the stories that their comics have told for years.  Put it together into a cohesive universe, and let us geek out about it.

You will make so much more money that way.