When Diane Nelson took over as president of DC Entertainment back in 2009, comic book fans couldn’t help but be worried about this outsider being put in charge of their favorite characters. But Nelson has had more success than failures with the company. However, due to the news today that she is resigning from Warner Brothers, she leaves the media properties with an uncertain future.
Nelson had been on leave since March as she recovered from back surgery and dealt with family matters. She was expected to return, but today announced she has decided not to come back. The interim executive structure put in place during her leave will remain while Warners decides how to approach the vacancy. Thomas Gewecke, who serves as chief digital officer and executive vp strategy and business development at Warner Bros., will continue to oversee the DC executive management team of Dan DiDio, Jim Lee, Geoff Johns and Amit Desai. Warner Bros. Consumer Products president Pam Lifford will now report directly to Tsujihara for the forseeable future.
Nelson has worked for Warner Brothers for 22 years and came to prominence at the company shepherding the Harry Potter franchise to worldwide film success.
When DC Comics was brought under Warner’s corporate umbrella in 2009, the print arm ran a perpetual second to rival Marvel Comics. Under Nelson’s watchful eyes and with reboots and restarts line The New 52 and DC Rebirth, DC gained on Marvel and is now engaged in a back and forth battle for total market share.
Nelson also spearheaded initiatives such as DC Superhero Girls, collecting the companies wide array of female characters into a sub property aimed at the youth market. The line has become a cottage industry for DC entertainment, selling many action figures, dolls, books, clothes and other ephemera.
She also had success moving DC characters into other mediums. Game series such a Batman: Arkham and Injustice have performed well in many platforms. And the characters foray into network television that started in 2012 with Arrow has blossomed into a robust shared universe that continues to this day and inspired Warners to start a DC Universe streaming service.
The only area Nelson did not have much success adapting DC characters into was film. Warners attempts to jump start a shared universe akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe was met with some difficulty. With the exception of Wonder Woman, the DC films underperformed according to projected grosses and were met with mostly underwhelming reviews.
It will be interesting where Warners goes from here in dealing with their DC Entertainment arm and what Nelson’s departure means for the DC Extended Universe.