Nikki Finke, who scooped everyone by a little bit on this major development, denies there’s a direct connection. It’s still impossible to not think the Marvel/Disney bombshell of less than a fortnight ago isn’t related to this slightly less incendiary news: Time Warner is restructuring venerable DC Comics as DC Entertainment, placing it under the direct control of Warner Brothers and its head, Jeffrey Robinov.
Actually running DC will be Diane Nelson, whom Finke describes as a “brilliant marketer” and credits with the successful marketing of the Harry Potter movie franchise. (She’s also been involved with the direct-to-video DC animated titles that have been coming out recently.) No longer running DC comics will be Paul Levitz, a very well regarded writer and editor whose been associated with the company since his teens and whose been the company’s president since 2002. Levitz will remain as a writer, editor, and consultant — who I hope they actually listen to.
The general verdict on this seems to be that DC is playing catch-up with Marvel’s broader use of its character roster. Though I don’t follow the comic book world the way I used to, my default mode on this was to be slightly dismayed to see a creative like Levitz replaced by a marketer in the top spot, however “brilliant.” In her initial post on the topic ace comics blogger Heidi MacDonald had this to say:
The moves are mostly aimed at shoring up Warner’s movie slate….Where will comics fit? Probably (our own guess) as a smaller and smaller part of the empire.
She also ventures a thought on the long-in-development “Wonder Woman” movie.
Some of you will recall that Robinov is notorious for his “no movies with female leads” edict, which led to the Kate Beckinsale led WHITEOUT being kept on ice for two years.
I don’t read her as regularly as I’d like because I don’t follow comics regularly, but Ms. MacDonald is one of the best there is at this media blogging game. Seems like a fair assessment and a warning worth listening to on both counts. Certainly Robinov’s sub-moronic move in 2007 could give people pause, though it might be less an example of blatant sexism than the kind of bizarre thinking that often runs Hollywood: If I have a hit with a panda one year because I made a great movie starring a panda, then suddenly pandas are the path to success. If, the next year, I make a sucky movie about a koala and it fails because the movie was dull, then koalas are now and forever box office poison. The fact that one was a good movie and the other stank is something studio execs like to ignore because it’s such a sticky and confusing matter. Better to issue pointless edicts about the species, gender, hair color, formats (3-D animation “in!”; 2-D animation “out!”), etc.
Let’s hope that Ms. Nelson insulates DC from that sort of thing, or it’s bad news both for movies and comic books. Something like this probably had to happen, but I certainly hope this doesn’t bland things out in our already too bland media landscape. I also hope that the more diverse DC line, which spans a lot more genres than Marvel, is allowed to stay that way and not turned into a Marvel-like superheroes-only outfit out of some misguided idea of branding. Comics are, if nothing else, a strong idea factory for movie properties and there’s no reason at all to limit the kinds of ideas.