Doing Comics Justice on Film

Contributor Tim Beyers sits down with The Motley Fool's Rick Engdahl to talk comics, TV, movies, tech, and related geekery. Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team, as well as the real-money Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I growth portfolio.

Marvel Studios has shown that it truly gets comics, and understands what's important to fans of the medium. In this video segment, Beyers says DC is heading in the right direction, but that Warner Brothers CEO Kevin Tsujihara has a ways to go in terms of truly engaging the fandom.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Richard Engdahl: If they actually start filming Wonder Woman, with Joss Whedon writing the script, I will buy shares immediately.

Tim Beyers: Absolutely. That one was shelved, but it's one that people were hungering for.

You know, you bring up an interesting point here. The other side of this story is that Marvel has done a very smart thing by hiring creators who understand the medium, and understand the characters.

Joss Whedon, big comic book guy, has actually written comics. Joe and Anthony Russo, big comic book fans, they're making Captain America: The Winter Soldier. They've also consulted Ed Brubaker, who wrote the original story of The Winter Soldier that the movie is going to be based on.

Marvel's being very smart about getting people who understand what fans want. The secret, I think, to making a comic book property that can transcend media is engaging the fans first, and then allowing it to blossom.

Once you get the fans out, and the fans get the word out, then it becomes a property that has legs. But if you don't engage the fans, the wider world doesn't care to begin with. You have to get the fans excited first. Marvel's figured out a way to do that. DC, I think, can do that.

Engdahl: They seemed to with The Dark Knight. That was a big step forward from the Clooney days of Batman.

Beyers: Right. Absolutely.

Engdahl: That seemed to engage the fans. The hard-core comic book fans liked it, and then the general public bought on as well, right?

Beyers: Absolutely. Unfortunately, Christopher Nolan is only going to be involved in these DC properties at the executive producer level. He isn't like the universe show runner that Joss Whedon is, over at Marvel. You can tell that Marvel has given Joss a lot of freedom to look at the entirety of the Marvel universe and say, "What do you want to do?" That's very powerful.

They haven't done the same thing on the DC side of things. But, having said that, Man of Steel was a good film. Christopher Nolan's involvement does suggest good things, and Diane Nelson, who runs DC Entertainment, is thinking broadly about how they can leverage those characters and influence the guy at the top, Kevin Tsujihara, and get him thinking broadly about how to engage the DC universe.

They're taking the right steps, but they have to get those DC universe creators more intimately involved in the process. Right now, the difference is that Warner Brothers looks at DC as a pool. There isn't a DC equivalent of Marvel Studios.

Walt Disney  (NYSE: DIS  ) has Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige runs it. It is its own thing. Warner Brothers is Warner Brothers, and when they want to make a DC movie they say, "Hey, we like this character. We want to make a movie." It's just not the same thing.

If they do engage the talent at the top of DC Entertainment, I think it'll change things.


Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2013, at 2:21 AM, Richard233 wrote:

    It's actually quite simple. Have someone that actually loves the characters as they are, not someone who wants to take it their own way and does not care what the fans want.

    Done right, you start a franchise that will make

    you money hand over fist. Done wrong and you

    get an abomination like "The Spirit" which basically took a classic Bogart type character with no super powers at all and turned him to some kind of Bugs Bunny farce. And for some reason they had Samuel L Jackson play the part of the Octopus, who was a Nazi. If will Eisner was not dead this desecration of his character would have killed him.

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2013, at 3:14 AM, delfra wrote:

    I know they like to do thing their own way, but WB is being detrimental to their comic book propeties by being overly involved in everything. What I mean by that is DC should have their own film division like Marvel has. Yes Disney is the owning partner, but in the deal Marvel made sure that they contain all control of their properties when it comes to the films, directors, actors and what stories they use. Disney controls distribution, merchandise, promotion, etc. WB needs to step back and relinquish control to DC when it comes to their characters and stories, because they will never know more about the characters than DC does. WB should just stay in the background like Disney does and focus more on distribution, promoting, etc.

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2013, at 6:06 AM, MikeMcAllister wrote:

    I agree. The batman and the superman movies (and also the spiderman movies which are not done by marvel studios), have mostly been good movies, some of them great. But they still didn't have that comic book feel, to me. They felt like hollywood stories, written by good writers who really didn't know or care about the comic book universe. They had hollywood market driven stories and feel. Not controlled by DC, controlled by Hollywood.

    As for Marvel, I think its not just because Marvel Studios is its own thing, its also because Disney has a different mentality to WB. As long as it retains general family values, Disney is happy to leave total creative control to Marvel and Pixar. Perhaps Marvel couldn't have made a film as dark as Dark Knight, but in every other way it seems to have way more freedom than DC producers/directors.

    I look forward to DC/WB learning from this, and exploring the DC universe with fan directors.

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2013, at 3:39 PM, dookeydavis wrote:

    so this analyst's genuis answer has nothing to do with the content. he strokes his beard and pontificates that they need to get somebody writing it who's been successful writing it in the past. wow. and that's why he makes the big bucks. just like most other analysts.

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