Having written comics for both of the Big Two publishers – Marvel and DC – in addition to his “day job” as a television and film writer/producer, J. Michael Straczynski may be in a rather unique position to comment on the state of movies featuring the superheroes of those publishers. And comment he did this past weekend during a panel at the New York Comic Con. In his typical no-holds-barred approach, Straczynski mixed a metaphor and stated, “I think Marvel is really kicking DC’s clock.”
While the sentiment echoes what many have been saying about the state of movie franchises between the two companies, Straczynski, as creator of the Babylon 5 television series produced by Warner Brothers, has been in a position to tell that studio, which is a corporate sibling to DC Entertainment and the producer of movies based on those properties, has been in the unique position to tell the studio about what he sees them doing wrong.
I’ve talked to the people at Warner Brothers and said “What is wrong with you people?” They think that they have a very narrow bench – Superman, Batman and then nobody else. We’re trying to get them to understand that we have a really good bench of characters if you treat them properly.
When asked as to what DC heroes he would like to see brought to the screen, Straczynski first jokingly suggesting the weird short-lived 1960s series Brother Power the Geek before giving three examples.
I would love to see the Flash. Ever see The Man With The X-Ray Eyes? There’s a scientist in pursuit of knowledge and information and receives this power and uses it to try and see deeper and deeper what’s going on on the physical scale and the metaphysical scale, trying to burrow through to the core of the universe to understand things better. Make it obsessive like that I think you could make a really good film about the Flash.
There’s a fan made trailer for Wonder Woman online. Have you all seen that? (Embedded below.) Is that not well done? And that’s what the Wonder Woman film should be. If you treated the Wonder Woman film the way we treated the Thor movie with some seriousness and also focus on her family you’d get a really good film out of that.
Oddly enough, the Haunted Tank could be a really good movie. Set it in Iraq or somewhere the Middle East, update it and it writes itself.
(A 2008 miniseries recast Haunted Tank in the middle of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Straczynski is credited with the screen story for Marvel Studio’s Thor film.)
One fan pointed out that it seemed as if parts of this past summer’s Superman film Man Of Steel was taken from Straczynski’s recent graphic novel Superman: Earth One. Straczynski commented on the film –
I thought that it had one fight more than it should have had. And it was a good movie that could have been a great movie had they put more time in on the characters. IN the end, I don’t care how good your effects are or the battles or the CGI, if we don’t care about the characters you got nothing and nowhere to go.
It has been suggested that the biggest problem that Warner Brothers is facing is that it doesn’t have some sort of person taking creative lead on their superhero films, in the way that Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige has spearheaded the interconnected world-building of their films. Would that job be a good fit for someone like Straczynski? Perhaps, though I think that he is more interested right now in concentrating on the work coming out of his JMS Studios production shingle and his Joe’s Comics imprint to want to add that onto his plate. Though if Warners were to assemble a group of DC’s writers for occasional consultation much like Marvel Studios has done with Marvel Comics writers, I would suggest that he be one of the first ones called.