…but you will find scallops and dune buggies
The Doclopedia #1,410
Alt. Superhero Movies: DC
We all know how the DC superhero movies have gone in our reality (generally, badly), but if we hop over just a few quanta, to Earth 1-G, things went very differently.
To start with, DC has had a much longer place in radio, motion pictures and television. Both Superman and Batman had radio shows that ran from 1940 until 1946. They both appeared in serials (two each) and movies (two for Supes, 3 for Batman) in the years between 1942 and 1949. Wonder Woman also had a serial and a movie (1947), both of which were very popular. All three were the subject of cartoons.
The first Superman television series ran from 1952 to 1958 and was a big ratings success. The first Batman series ran from 1954 to 1963 and was an even bigger success, being somewhat more geared to general audiences instead of kids. Wonder Woman had a shorter life in her first series, running only from 1958 to 1962.
Starting in 1964, DC made a deal with three different production companies to do Saturday morning cartoon series based on Superman, Batman and the Justice League. All three series were huge hits and soon they were joined by a Wonder Woman series and a Flash series. From 1964 to 1984, DC never had fewer than 3 animated series running on Saturday morning and from 1968 to 1987, they had a full hour of animated adventures featuring rotating casts of heroes.
DC did make several animated feature films so as to compete with Marvel, but for the most part, they ruled television, especially when the live action Batman and Superman series both premiered in 1970.
DC beat Marvel to the live action movie arena with “Superman” in 1975 and “Batman” in 1977. These movies used different actors from the television series and were well made, both getting several Oscar nominations. That opened the gates for more movies between 1979 and 2000 . Most of these were Batman (6) or Superman films (5), but there were 3 Wonder Woman films, 2 each for Flash, Supergirl, Plastic Man and Green Arrow, 1 each for Green Lantern, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Justice League and The Doom Patrol.
At San Diego ComiCon in 2000, DC announced a 3 year hiatus from feature films, but a record 7 live action television series. Then, in 2003, they announced that they would be releasing two movies a year starting in 2004 with “Batman: Year One” and “Superboy”. As promised, by 2018, they had released 28 movies.
Something to point out here is the differing philosophy of Marvel and DC regarding their cinematic and television universes.
While all of the Marvel movies were taking place in the same universe and, in most cases linked directly to other movies, the MCU link to the TV shows (of which Marvel had surprisingly few until around 2014) was often very tenuous. Yes, they were all technically in the MCU, but crossovers of any sort were pretty rare.
DC took a whole different approach. First off, while most of their TV shows, including animated ones, were linked with most of their movies, with crossovers aplenty, not all were.
DC had series and movies that were Elseworlds based, took place in different times and sometimes were one shot comedies. Batman was especially varied, with three linked movies followed by an Elseworlds 1940’s noir and an action comedy set in the late 1960’s. Superman even went so far as to have a Star Trek crossover. Fans and the general public ate it up. DC also never had “phases” or an overarching plan for their movies. While Marvel films made more money (by sheer quantity), DC movies almost always got more critical praise.
LIST OF DC FILMS
The Adventures of Superman (medium budget, not a bad movie)
Batman (medium budget, very true to the comics, box office hit)
Superman vs Monster Man (much better than the first one)
Wonder Woman (surprise box office hit, mostly due to a large female audience)
Batman Returns (another hit)
Batman vs The Joker (very good, but the Joker scared kids and some adults)
Superman (huge hit)
Batman (huge hit)
Superman 2 (somewhat less of a hit than the first movie)
Wonder Woman (did very well, won 3 Oscars)
Batman: Joker’s Wild (another huge hit)
The Flash (good story and FX, but not as big a hit as the other films)
Superman 3 (did okay at the box office)
Wonder Woman and the Amazon’s Secret (big hit)
Green Lantern (FX not quite what they should have been, but made money)
Batman vs The Penguin (darker in tone, big hit)
Supergirl (despite a rather boring story, it did well)
The Flash Returns (much better FX this time, a solid hit)
Superman: Last Hope of Earth (the big comeback, huge hit)
Green Arrow (modest budget, but a solid story. another solid hit)
Wonder Woman: God of War (huge hit, won 5 Oscars)
Martian Manhunter (a science fiction detective story. Moderate hit)
Plastic Man (unapologetic comedy. fans and critics loved it)
Batman: Gotham Nights (darkest one yet. Catwoman/Batman scenes almost got it an R rating. biggest DC hit of the 90’s)
Supergirl 2 (better story, more action)
Plastic Man Bounces Back (another big hit)
Doom Patrol (had a good dose of humor. lead straight to a television series)
Superman vs Brainiac (almost non-stop action. a big hit and most popular of the series)
Batman: Arkham Asylum (this one made almost as much as the last one and did get an R rating for violence)
Green Arrow: The Hunt (a hit. Nonstop action and very little dialogue. intense as hell)
Aquaman (good story and FX. everyone expected it to suck. it didn’t)
Batman Forever (much lighter than previous entries. Made a ton of money)
Justice League (humongous hit. Beaten at the box office only by “Avengers: Ultron”)
Batman: Year One (reboot of the series. all were major hits. No supervillain, but does have a crook fall into a vat of acid)
Superboy (another reboot. Lead to the tv series “Smallville”)
The Adventures of Wonder Woman (massive hit)
The Flash: Fastest Man Alive (reboot. incredible FX. villains: Reverse Flash and Grodd)
Batman: Year Two (villain: The Penguin)
Green Lantern: In Darkest Night (origin story. well received.)
Superman: The Man Of Steel (he goes toe to toe with Luthor and Zod)
Aquaman: Unite The Seven (big hit. a mix of political thriller and action movie)
Batman: Year 3 (Joker, Catwoman, Gotham City going to hell. Enormous hit)
Return Of The Doom Patrol (6 years after the tv series ended. big hit with even more humor.)
The Justice League Of America (villains: bigass aliens)
Swamp Thing (a creepy hit)
Batman: Gotham Kills (1940’s film noir. Won 7 Oscars, including Best Picture)
Supergirl: Breakout (villains: 3 sisters from the Phantom Zone)
Superman In The 23rd Century (Superman meets Star Trek)
Flashpoint (despite a near mindboggling storyline, it was a big hit)
Wonder Woman: The Cheetah (another big hit)
The Green Lantern Corps (epic space action made this a hit)
Batman Rocks! (Batman in the 1960’s. plenty of humor. great soundtrack)
Hawkman (despite almost half of the movie being set in ancient Egypt, a decent hit)
Plastic Man Comes Home (Plas returns to the big screen and earns 750 million bucks)
Swamp Thing 2: (another creepy one but this one co-stars Constantine)
Justice League: Injustice (villains: the Injustice League)
Superman: The Coming Of Bizarro (heavy on the comedy. Made big bucks)
Suicide Squad (dark & violent. marred by a weak story. still did well at the box office)
The Flash: Rogues Gallery (villains: Captain Cold, Weather Wizard, Mirror Master and others, mostly from the tv series)
Tales Of The Batman (an anthology made up of 3 linked stories. An excellent movie)
Birds Of Prey (movie based on the tv series. A fan favorite)
Supergirl: Underpowered (not unlike Iron Man 3 in our world. Kara has her powers seriously reduced just when she needs them most)
The Legion Of Superheroes (the movie fans waited 50 years for. made a billion)
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