Being huge fans of the DCU animated films, we’re always on the pulse of the announcements of any new project out of Warner Premier. Between editor George and myself, we own every single title on DVD. Though if you look at all those titles, allot of them are mostly Batman and Superman fares. And there’s a good reason. But first, let me guide to you an excerpt to a recent interview with Bruce Timm about why there are only Batman and Superman related films:
Q: When you’re looking for new projects that are within the DC Universe, is it difficult to deal with that wealth of riches that you have to choose from in the source material, or do you have a mental list of things that you say, “I’d really like to go back and do this if they gave me the opportunity.”
TIMM: It is kind of a broad question, and hopefully I can answer it in a way without insulting tons and tons of people, but…I wish there was more really strong source material like All-Star Superman or Batman: Year One for us to adapt into movies. There really aren’t. There’s a lot of good comics over the entire course of history, but in terms of finding a really well-known comic like Batman: Year One or Dark Knight Returns that’s not only a great comic but also famous and has its own name-recognition value, there aren’t that many of them out there. Is there a Dark Knight equivalent for Aquaman or for Green Arrow? No, there really isn’t. So there may be good stories out there, but they’re not on that same level. It definitely makes it easier when there’s a story like Batman: Year One or Dark Knight or All-Star Superman or The New Frontier. Something that’s really that strong and you can read the comic and go, “OK, I can totally see how that would work as an animated film.” There aren’t really that many properties out there that are like that.
Q: So it could work as a very successful story, but it might not translate into your area.
TIMM: Well, as a good example is Justice League: Doom. I read the Tower of Babel storyline when it first came out, and there were things about it that I really really liked, but for years everyone kept asking, “Oh, when are you going to do Tower of Babel? when are you going to do Tower of Babel?” and it doesn’t really work as an animated movie because there’s things that get up that don’t really pay off, it doesn’t have a movie structure to it, and it doesn’t really have a super larger-than-life quality to it. But then we were talking about it again just a couple of years ago, and going back and rethinking about the book because it’s a really, really strong idea for a movie: the idea that Batman has these contingency plans on how to take down the Justice League if they’d ever gone bad, and then those plans fall into the wrong hands and the villain actually puts those plans into action. It’s a really good, strong story motivator, so we felt like we could do something of our own with it. We’re always adapting ideas and things from the comics, but it may not always be a literal adaptation.
Now, the man has a point. Not every character has grand stories that are really worthy of translating into an animated film. That’s not to say that there aren’t good Green Arrow or Aquaman stories, just.. non really stand out. Hell, even Kevin Smith’s Green Arrow run, which was awesome, would be hard pressed to be adapted unless it’s restructured to incorporate Onomatopoeia as the big bad.
There’s also the more obvious reason though: The minor characters don’t sell as well. The life of these films are based on the DVD sales. Sadly, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern: First Flight (both astonishingly awesome, with GL being better than the live action film) both didn’t fare as well in sales. Justice League, Batman and Superman do the best with the Green Lantern Emerald Knights being made as a tie in for the movie last summer. Hell plans for a Teen Titans and Batgirl film were scrapped because Wonder Woman and Green Lantern did so poorly. Not wanting to do the same thing over and over again is why DC Showcase was created. To give the secondary characters some time to shine, even if they don’t get a full length film. Personally, I’d rather have the films I’m getting than no films at all.
So buy Batman Year One now, and Justice League Doom when it comes out next year.