Film Following on from the Youtube reaction I posted underneath the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, here's a conversation about transmedia from the Toronto International Film Festival's industry conference which provides a potential answer as to why people are more excited about a film about a talking tree and a racoon with a gun than another with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and possibly The Rock.
Once you've skipped through the ten minutes in which the camera entirely fails to pan across to the exciting presentational video you reach a comment from Andy Merkin (Head of Special Projects and Transmedia, Mirada Studios) who notes that one of the elements of the Wikipedia is that 90% of people who use it are readers, another 9% sometimes edit the thing but only 1% actually originate content.
This is then picked up by Evan Jones (the founder of Stitch Media) who says that he's forever having to caution clients who say they want to simply advertise to the masses and ignore the hardcore fan bases because why should they care about the 1% when the 99% of people will lap up whatever they're selling anyway. As Jones says, it's the hardcore fan base, the people who really care about the thing, that end up leading everyone else so they ignore them at their peril.
I wonder if this isn't DC/WB's mistake. When they released the image of Affleck as Batman the other week there was a genuine sense of ho-hum from bloggers and the twittersphere and the comics blogs I sometimes frequence, very much a case of, what, Batman? Again? Which is odd when you consider this is Batman.
MARVEL in creating their various films, especially Guardians which is frankly an amazingly weird concept, are being deeply respectful of the various mythologies, even to the point of keeping Groot and Rocket, difficult characters which other studios might have omitted (see the legendary Bloomberg article).
This interests fans of the comic and comics in general. Indeed there's a general sense of amazement that not only a Guardians of the Galaxy film exists as a thing, but that it looks to have kept at least some of the spirit of the comic book and also do things like hire Vin Deisal to play a tree and bring in some of the Who fans by hiring Karen Gillan.
The Star Trek reboot also worked because the whole concept of the film was built around the premise of not pissing off the hardcore fan base by negating the original continuity and simply creating a new "timeline". Doctor Who (sorry but it's true) has also gone out of its way to solidify the concept that even the new series is part of the same story.
DC and Warner Bros are otherwise on the back foot because they don't seem to be putting the work in or to explain that more clearly, they're working from the assumption that because it's Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and possibly The Rock people will turn up anyway, not least the fan base.
The last thing hardcore fans like is being taken for granted. They get suspicious and know immediately when the mythology and characters they care about aren't being done "properly". They knew it from the moment they saw the first Man of Steel trailer and after that disaster was released they simply don't trust DC/WB with the thing any more.
But Man of Steel made money and because DC/WB are only considering the 99% at this point, they've handed the project back to the director who made the money, handed over all the characters they assume the fans will go gaga for not recognising that at this point they're really not and gone with it.
What they should have done, and could have done, is taken it slow. Made a Superman sequel but with a more fan friendly director and writers, still slowly setting up the world in the background and worked towards the Justice League. If they believe the 99% will turn up anyway then it wouldn't matter.
Instead the negativity of fans is beginning to permeate. The 99% are, as far as I can see, shrugging. Just as fans are saying "What, Batman, again?" the 99% are too. Everyone seems to be talking about what MARVEL are doing. The DC buzz just doesn't seem to be there. Well see if that changes once the trailer appears ....
Updated later. These quotes from an interview with David S Goyer, Man of Steel writer and story credit on what's now being called Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice (yes indeed and #ffs) goes some way to proving my point. Setting aside his attitude to She-Hulk (if we must), the quote about Martian Manhunter is astonishingly wrong headed. If MARVEL had a character called Martian Manhunter, you know they'd find some way to make it work. Meanwhile it's the comments threads on posts like this which WB/DC should be looking at to see how they're getting things so badly wrong. That this film will see the first appearance of Wonder Woman in films and she's not even mentioned in the title (which she could given the Trinity or World's Finest comics lines) does not bode well for us feminists.
Posted on Wednesday, May 21, 2014