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The Watchmen Salvo against DC Comics

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By Har1en
February 18, 2009

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Watchman, if big, will bring the same press to Time Warner and Iron Man did to Marvel. The limping-giant will be seen has having found its way.

This is a somewhat limited statement, unfortuantely for DC, as Watchmen (note the plural) is a one-shot deal. Watchmen lacks on-going characters; the story is one-movie-only. The beauty of Batman, Iron Man, Superman, and Spider-man is that the characters' stories continue on and blend with the current reality-based universe as desired.

Watchmen is a particularly good story in comic format, but the story has a definitive end. Were the creators to alter the ending to allow the characters to live on and produce sequels, the fanbois would destroy the movie in the blogosphere and probably kill any chance of success. However, from the previews I've seen, I expect that Watchmen will make at least 200MM domestically, and be true to the story as much as it can.

Also, DC's support for Harry Potter (kind of a superhero) is strong and has produced some very profitable content, and now they're laying claim to summer season in 2009.

That said, although DC can be strong competition, for every Dark Knight success it seems like they play a bumbling villian 80% of the time.

The most recent ... Superman atrocity is a good example, as was the decision to drop Joss Wheedon (Dollhouse, Firefly, Buffy TVS, Angel) from the helm of Wonder Woman. Further, their inability to leverage the success of Smallville with a decent movie is appalling, as is their reluctance to treat the other members of the Justice League like Flash as anything other than secondary characters.

All this said, DC is not just competition for the movie component of Marvel. While not as grandiose or interesting, the publishing and licensing segments are both huge participants in the money machine that should be examined, even if they lack the red carpet charm of the Marvel Studios segment. Also, remember, superhero movies don't hold any special cachet among licensing circles. A strong merchandising push around other major action releases like Transformers, GI-Joe, Harry Potter, etc. will create a significantly difficult competitive climate for licensing money, particularly in a rough economic time.