It is no secret that the comic book movie genre is getting bigger and bigger. Marvel Studios is putting out two, soon three, films a year, while 20th Century Fox is expanding its X-Men franchise and rebooting Fantastic Four. Perhaps most significantly, however, Warner Bros. is finally creating a DC Cinematic Universe. Starting with 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, the studio will release two DC movies a year. Other titles on the release schedule are Wonder Woman, Shazam and two Justice League films. But in an era where several comic book movies release each year, how will DC’s offerings stand out? Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara weighs in.
At the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference this week (via Variety), Tsujihara dismissed claims that there is “superhero fatigue” in the media industry, citing the diversity of every other property that allows them to stand out. “The key thing is that the movies and the television shows and the games, everything looks very different …you have to be able to take advantage of the diversity of these characters.”
As for how the DC movies differ from, say, Marvel’s, Tsujihara says that they are more realistic and “edgier,” a phrase commonly thrown around for blockbuster films these days. “The worlds of DC are very different. They’re steeped in realism, and they’re a little bit edgier than Marvel’s movies.” Finally, the CEO comments on the increase of the film industry’s global appeal and the fact that awareness of these characters makes it easier to market them. “The big franchises are becoming more and more valuable. You don’t have to explain to the consumer what a Batman v Superman is.”
Tsujihara’s comments on the DC movies being slightly edgier than Marvel’s should not be surprising. DC has always had characters and films that would be considered “edgy,” particularly more so than Marvel’s more lighthearted fare. While Marvel’s formula clearly works, that’s not to say that every other studio should copy it. DC’s more realistic and “edgier” approach could very well work, but not for every film or character; for example, the Flash and Shazam work best in a lighthearted environment, and this should be the case for their upcoming movies.
However, Tsujihara is absolutely correct when he says that the diversity in superhero properties helps them. If anything, the variety of tones, genres, etc. will keep comic book movies fresh in the minds of audiences. Whether it’s a sci-fi comedy like Guardians of the Galaxy, a political thriller like Captain America: The Winter Soldier or a first-contact story like Man of Steel, there are limitless options for stories to tell to keep each installment unique. And hopefully, this trend will continue for however long superhero films will be in-demand.