Joss Whedon Explains Why DC Comics Movies Don't Work
Speaking of DC Comics, a fascinating bit of commentary from "Buffy", "Angel" and "Firefly" mastermind Joss Whedon has hit the web today courtesy of The Geek Files (via SlashFilm). In it, Joss explains why he thinks DC Comics movies don't work so well. And I've got to say, his reasons are just a bit brilliant, like all things Joss Whedon. In essence, he says that DC Comics' characters are "too mythological and god-like to connect to audiences." If you're a DC fan and that gets you riled up, then I encourage you to read onwards, because he explains this issue in a lot more detail and it actually does make a lot of sense, in theory.
Joss begins by saying: "With that one big exception (Batman), DC's heroes are from a different era. They're from the era when they were creating gods." For a bit of background and perspective before we continue, DC Comics was founded in 1934 (originally as National Allied Publications), while Marvel Comics was founded in 1939 (as Timely Publications). Batman was created in 1939, Superman was created in 1932. On the Marvel side of things, Spider-Man was created in 1962, and Captain America was created in 1941.
"The thing that made [rival publisher] Marvel Comics extraordinary was that they created people. Their characters didn't live in mythical cities, they lived in New York. They absolutely were a part of the world. Peter Parker's character (Spider-Man) was a tortured adolescent."
"DC's characters, like Wonder Woman and Superman and Green Lantern, were all very much removed from humanity. Batman was the only character they had who was so rooted in pain, that had that same gift that the Marvel characters had, which was that gift of humanity that we can relate to."
While this seems like a basic idea at the forefront, I think Joss has touched upon a much deeper discussion surrounding pop culture and our society on a whole. Because this covers not only the idea of comic books and the characters within them, but the idea of movies, and why they turn out good in the end and why audiences attach to particular stories. I haven't personally been reading comics long enough to get a real sense of the character differences between Marvel and DC, but I've found that I personally like reading Marvel's stories more. However, that's not to say that I don't also enjoy reading Batman and Superman.
Taking a quick look at various comic book movies, on the DC side of things, we've got: Superman, Batman, and Catwoman, as well as Constantine, V for Vendetta, and The Spirit, but not much else. As for Marvel, we've got: The Punisher, Blade, X-Men, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk, Elektra, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, and Iron Man. Obviously Marvel has adapted a lot more of their characters, although it could be argued that a lot more of their movies are failures, whereas most of DC's movies haven't been that bad.
I've also got to mention Watchmen, because this whole idea (about "creating gods") is partially why that story is so brilliant (and why I loved the movie). Alan Moore took the concept of what it would be like to have an actual god-like superhero living in our world, as well as regular costumed heroes, and combined that with the idea of humanity and the struggles that these heroes must go through. If that doesn't get you excited for Watchmen, then I don't know what else will, but keeping on topic with Whedon's statements, I think he may be on to something. Maybe this is why more DC movies haven't made it to the big screen?
Don't forget, Joss isn't trying to say that Marvel is better than DC overall, because they each have their own set of characters that are brilliant printed on paper and in the comic book medium, but as for adapting them to the big screen, that's a whole other story that can definitely be discussed. What do you think?