Dear DC Comics (and to a lesser part Warner Bros. Pictures),
News came out today that Swamp Thing was being canceled after not even one full season. This was a TV series that was finally going to get stans and fans alike interested in your beleaguered TV network ‘The DC Universe.’
It had all the ingredients of a prize-winning recipe — dark theme, borderline horror, a master in James Wan at the helm, and a classic character. Sure, there were rumors that it would never get a green light, but you persevered. The trailer was really good. And now, you fart, fall down, hit your head, and forget all the people who were willing to give you and that hamhanded streaming network a (nother) chance.
That leads me to the premise of this personal diatribe… what in the actual hell is your problem?! Why in the name of Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Bob Kane, and Bill Finger does it seem that you have no care in the world about the main reason other franchises are so successful?
There are people–present company included–who grew up on tales of the Justice League. We woke up early on Saturday mornings to race to the pantry, grab a cold Pop Tart, and turned on Super Friends. That was DC Comics’ magic. And it was made by people who loved those of us who loved it back.
Fast forward to June 2013.
Legions of your fans could not wait for the realization of Man of Steel. The score. The trailers. The casting. And that director. It had the makings of legend. If only you cared enough to harness the potential and follow the recipe. We’d still be chewing on the fat of what you served us, but nope. We’re left starving for characters and movies because you two can’t seem to get your crap together.
We know. You saw what Marvel was doing. You knew Kevin Feige was listening to his throng of rabid fans. You could almost touch the electricity every time an MCU movie dropped. And you had that same thing. Until, of course, you allowed it to ooze out of your greedy fingers and slipped on it after the thing congealed on the cutting room floor at Warner Bros. Pictures.
Oddly enough, it seems the moment Man of Steel flew up, up, and away, was the same time you stopped caring about the very people who brought you to this moment.
How do I know? These were the people who would buy tickets, merch, and whatever else you placed in front of them. They bought every line of the DCEU. They even stayed faithful during the polarizing Batman v. Superman. Nonetheless, you couldn’t help yourselves and sold your soul for the chance of catching up with a more developed and far more advanced multiverse.
We knew it was going to happen. We told you to wait. But mute us on social media and ignore the questions at conferences. You knew what was best. How’s that working out?
Marvel had a head full of steam by the time you finally got around to releasing Zack Synder’s vision of the DC Extended Universe. Kevin Feige’s team had eight full movies to its credit, beginning with Iron Man in 2008. They even went full-on Nostradamus and predicted four phases of the MCU. And all DC fans got was a rumor of an Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and maybe a glimpse of another Batman origin.
No Martian Manhunter. No Flashpoint. And let’s not discuss the resurrection of Green Lantern. No, you were fine giving us shreds of leaked rumors, clickbait, and idle chatter.
You may not remember because you were waterlogged by drowning in headlines lauding the efforts of Marvel for developing a comic book movie genre, but they had a plan before they had ticket receipts.
I think that intimidated your leadership a little. (Not for nothing, but does Walter Hamada do anything besides take out the trash and collect a check? I mean, anything?!)
That plan seemed to overwhelm the cracked team at the helm of this DC Comics and WB Pictures dystopian duo. You threw away any thought of origin movies, connecting the heroes with a storyline, and culminating with a “league.” Just gone. No trace of care. No allegiance to a fan base. No worries about the critics. Forget the foreplay and get the six seconds of fun, right?
Suicide Squad could have been so much better. Be honest. You know it could have been. Following an origin that gave us the hope we had when Kal-El was sent away from Krypton, we tip-toed into the makings of a new universe with perfect casting as Gal Gadot was introduced to us all in Wonder Woman.
You were listening to the fans. You embraced diversity. You showed the world a woman could lead and dominate the box office. And, much like the aforementioned neglect of a woman’s needs, you forgot about the cuddle and went right for the ending.
This is how we got Justice League.
Just tell us you caved to the pressure. We can accept that, if anything. The movie, for lack of a better journalistic term, sucked. The script was rushed. The jokes were gratuitous. The heroes weren’t developed. And that CGI. Please.
You took a gamble and lost all your chips. In fact, you are still losing ground thanks to all those Snyder acolytes demanding you compile what’s left on the cutting floor after you showed the man the door as he faced one of the most perilous journeys of his life.
Think about it. He gave a fantastic origin film. Some would say he built upon that vision with BvS and gave you the hallmark of an actual cinematic universe… and that’s how you treated him? You know that suck-up at work who is always trying to throw you under a bus? I wouldn’t have even done that guy the way you did Zack, but that’s just me.
Back to the letter…
We got this movie and you got a swift kick in the cosplay tights by those disgruntled fans. Yes, you earned $657 million at the box office. Imagine how many of those people would have paid to return to the box office if only you had a better story.
Two times? Three times? Look at Avengers: Endgame. I think you can see the fans will return up to 10 times if the story is there, the characters are there, and the meaning is there.
Only one problem: You weren’t there when we got there. We waited for you. We wanted to hear from you. But nothing. No one cared. No one welcomed us. No one wanted to listen to us.
Sure, you have to sift through corn husks of lunacy that will visit you at every Comic Con and found on Twitter. But among all that opinion, there are people who genuinely want to talk and contribute. These are the invested ones in the brand. These are the people who want to see the rich characters and esteemed storylines DC Comics has at its disposal. These are the folk like me.
James Wan saved your hides bringing the first billion-dollar venture DC and WB ever had with Aquaman. And then David Sandberg brought us Shazam! in illustrious fashion. You are really on a roll. Maybe that’s because WB Chairman Toby Emmerich did what Hamada should have been doing for years and assuring us there is a plan.
(Which is basically to make movies, not a multiverse. Meh.)
Reluctantly, you’re wooing us back into the fold. We have heard about The Suicide Squad (nice grab on James Gunn), Birds of Prey, The Joker, and finally some damn news on The Batman not rooted in speculation. However, we aren’t convinced.
Back to that back-seat scenario, you’re like that six second dude. Sure, you think we are cute, smell nice, and having us on your arm (and in your pocketbook) makes you look good, but we’re not looking for that kind of a hook-up. We want a relationship.
We have that with Marvel. You know, those of us who can actually coexist and appreciate the entire genre. They said “Trust us,” and we did. They never abused that trust. Not everything Marvel has touched has been gold, but it all led to that!
Do you think you will ever be able to say that? If you can, we’ll go with you. If not, we may have to look elsewhere for our nerd vices. We hear there’s a new streaming channel coming in November.
In closing, we love you but it may be time to move on. It’s not you. It’s us.
We damn fans. Again.
P.S. I almost forgot: Look in the mirror. You may find the problem staring back at you. (Namely if that Hamada guy is in the background.)