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Friday, December 26, 2014 

Don't bet on Flash TV show convincing DC editors to brighten DCU again

A few weeks ago, one of CBR's writers said he thinks the Arrow and Flash TV programs, the latter with its allegedly upbeat approach, might convince DC's editors to reverse their grimy ways:
Regardless, The Flash seems to have been received much more positively than Arrow was originally, thanks in large part to the upbeat attitude. Arguably, if it didn’t need to provide a contrast with Arrow, it wouldn’t have had that attitude; but whatever the reason, it’s worked out pretty well. Makes me wonder what Ray’s ATOM heroics will look like in Arrow’s context. They’d have to be less gloomy than Team Arrow’s, because I can’t imagine how the show would pull off a six-inch hero beating up dark archers in dank alleys and deserted warehouses. (It’d make Yoda vs. Dooku look like Enter the Dragon.) Maybe Arrow isn’t going full-on Batman ‘66, but it definitely has room to adopt more four-color elements.

* * *

If that happens, I think it can only help the comics. By now we know there’s no guarantee that movies and TV move the needles of comics sales, but if DC’s high sheriffs see these shows succeeding with something other than grim/dark solemnity, that may convince them to follow suit. With its current saga of battle-hardened time-travelers and “proactive” crimefighting, the Flash comic could especially use a little bit of the show’s light touch.
With Dan DiDio still in charge, and Bob Harras as a yes-man, I'm afraid we can't count on that at all, and besides, they've already driven many people out of the mainstream market. The high cover prices don't help either. The only reason the TV shows might be doing something better than darkness - an argument not supported well by the Flash TV show's building on Geoff Johns's retcon for its beginnings - is because: movies and TV, in stark contrast to comics, are seen as more commercial and more moneymaking. That's why you might see more respect for certain positive values in the live action productions, but back in the comics, those now running the show see it as "their" property and have no qualms about doing everything they can to ruin it all, even if it means finally sinking the ship.

In fact, I figure the modern slew of comics movies and TV shows stems more from Hollywood's desperate search for the next moneymaking fad than a sincere belief in entertaining altruistically.

One of the commentors replied with arguments both good and bad:
I loved what you said about DC hedging their bets. As a long time DC fan, I thought this was the biggest problem between DC and Marvel. The people behind Marvel seemed to love and embrace their heroes. Warner Brothers seems almost embarrassed by them and consider them “for kids.”

One need only look at the unrealistic expectations heaped upon Young Justice, a brilliant show that was horribly managed timeslot-wise and then cancelled because of poor toy sales.

Marvel is fortunate that their parent company is now Disney, a company that shares the same passion for their properties and for creative endeavors.

DC is trying hard to be something it’s not. All their movies try to STRAY away from the source material as much as possible and drastically reinvent their heroes. You could smell the lack of confidence in them.

To be fair, Marvel also suffered from this with Fantastic Four, Daredevil and some of their earlier efforts. Even X-Men has become a convoluted mess. Probably because, well, these were handled by other studios who all tried to make the properties more REALISTIC. The only ones that worked were the Blade series and that’s cause Blade was tailor-made for B-movie popcorn fun.

But Marvel is PROUD of it’s heroes. Even when they fail, they don’t give up and they don’t care! (Daredevil? Ghost Rider? FF? Hel, the last two Iron Man films were horrible as was the last Spiderman film.) DC seems to be proud of Batman, is proud of the Superman BRAND but not the character, and sometimes acts like they’re saddled with Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, etc… And when they fail, they make a big deal out of it. Green Lantern for example.

Flash is the first DC property that EMBRACED it’s comic book roots. (Even the old Flash TV series seemed ashamed of it, trying too hard to make the characters serious.) Whereas Grant Gustin and company seem to take, uh, glee, in their comic book roots. Arrow also started improving when they did the same. It hasn’t been perfect but we can FEEL the love.

The same love Bruce Timm’s team had for all the DC animated series, as well as Greg Weisman’s team on the Young Justice series.

But WB’s reaction to Marvel’s push, for example, seem more out of desperation to catch up, or pressure, rather than to make their own stories. Where’s the confidence in that?

You can almost see some of those suits cringing at the thought of talking about Aquaman or Green Lantern. (Did you know that in the 1990 series, a WB suit once said that Barry should NOT be in costume but rather fight crime in a sweatshirt and pants?)

Marvel also protects its characters. Not even Edward Norton was above it. DC let Zach Snyder change Watchmen’s ending because “Aliens are too unrealistic.” In the process, they lessened the impact. WB couldn’t even make anything out of possibly the most acclaimed superhero story in history.

DC’s suits needs to have the same GENUINE confidence in its properties that Marvel’s does, and has to develop the same passion for them that the fans do. Otherwise, we’re stuck with grown ups who think Superheroes are dumb trying to understand why they can’t make more money out of it.
Oh please! Claiming Marvel's proud of their products does not hold up well for anyone familiar with Brian Bendis' monstrosities back in comics proper. If this comment is just about movies, it's laughable. Disney only cares about Marvel's properties as a moviemaking - and moneymaking - source. Otherwise, they'd care about the publishing division as much as they do about the movie division. And the same goes with DC/Time Warner. To say the Flash TV show's "embraced" its comics roots is also quite a stretch, knowing where it really drew its setup from.

Besides, don't comics sales receipts prove little has changed in the wider reception for illustrated tales?

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Actually, the Flash has been a pretty good show so far.

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