With the dumpster fire that is 2016 burning down, I can’t wait for the 2017 array of geek media to come out. But for all the loss and anger and frustration that has defined 2016, I have a number of interesting observations on Geek Culture and where things may be headed in 2017. First, the current state of the DC film and television universes.
2016 saw the release of both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the Suicide Squad movie, both films setting the stage for the DC Extended Universe, DC’s own cinematic universe. Taking heavily from the movie-release phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Warner Bros. hopes to emulate the success of their Disney counterparts.
And so far, one can roughly characterize the DC films successful. They did well at the box office, more than well enough to keep the DCEU dream alive. Warner is committed to the idea of a DCEU, having already cast the major heroes and chosen dates for the films’ releases. Suicide Squad was also a relative success, especially considering that the film featured villains, and most of them B-level villains at best, with the exception of the Joker and Harley Quinn.
With their feet firmly entrenched, I anticipate the 2017 release of the Wonder Woman film to finally bring the DCEU into the same esteem as the Marvel films. The movie has the drawing power of the iconic Amazonian warrior, with nearly 70 years of history behind her, and a popular television series. Plus, she has the appeal of finally having a female character lead in a superhero film — something Marvel has yet to do, despite the popularity of the Black Widow character in multiple Marvel films. Wonder Woman also doesn’t have the baggage and continuity issues Superman and Batman face with multiple films and reboots over the last few decades.
I anticipate the Wonder Woman film will borrow heavily from the successful narrative of Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger from 2011, as the movie follows Diana’s origins and super heroics in World War II, bridging the character from the past to the present’s Batman vs. Superman, and propelling her into the Justice League film set to be released in November 2017.
Yet for all the success of the the DCEU films, DC Comics’ strongest properties continue to be their television universe. Currently consisting of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, the CW is consistently producing good stories for four very different shows, shows that happen in the same “Arrowverse.”
What’s amazing about this success is that the CW is doing it with lesser-known DC characters — especially with Legends of Tomorrow. And what’s more fascinating is that they already outdid their film counterparts on an even greater scale with the four-series Invasion! crossover. Since the Flash series premiered, crossovers are an annual event — Invasion being the third such crossover. Considering in the Marvel film franchise’s eight-year span, there are currently only two Avengers movies, gathering so many heroes in one place for a crossover story on an annual basis is admirable. The CW shows it is possible to have multiple superhero genre shows, so long as the stories and characters continue with quality — and the faithful backing of the network.
The inner geek in me hopes that someday, the DC film heroes will cross paths with their DC television counterparts. It is something that used to occur with frequency in the comic book universe — DC had multiple Crisis stories with heroes of multiple Earths teaming up. But the realistic geek television and movie watcher knows this will never happen. I blame 2016 for the closure of this inter-dimensional rift possibility. That, or the powers that be at Warner Bros. and the CW.
Either way, we the geek people have treasures both on the silver screen and the home screen to comfort us when the real world feels dark and cold.