Thoughts on San Diego Comic-Con 2013 news

World's Finest Comics #76
Yes, your two favorite heroes (minus Robin) will star in one adventure, in movie theaters in 2015…minus the scoreboard. From “World’s Finest Comics” #76, May-June 1955.

This year’s San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) brought with it plenty of announcements on various media projects. Below are my thoughts on some of them…

Marvel movie news

Marvel made a few movie announcements. The biggest news is learning the full title of “Avengers 2”: “Age of Ultron.” Despite the name, it’s supposedly not based on the recent Marvel crossover of the same name, nor will Hank “Ant-Man” Pym be involved. While I was expecting Thanos (from the end credits in “The Avengers”), Ultron might be interesting as well as far as “evil robots gone berserk” go. It also reminds me why Brainiac would make a good villain for a future Superman movie (versus Lex/Zod yet again), but I wonder if after “Age of Ultron” Brainiac showing up would be seen by the general public as “Superman ripping off the Avengers.”

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” also showed a few clips to the crowd in attendance, including of the Falcon in action. From the Newsarama description, it all sounds cool. Looking forward to this one next April.

Archie introducing a lesbian character?

The Archie panel’s question-and-answer session had someone ask if Archie will ever introduce a lesbian character. The response below:

While lots of things are promised by comic companies  that never materialize, such as that “Veronica & Betty” magazine-sized comic, I don’t think there’s reason to assume we’ll never see a lesbian character introduced. Like Kevin, she’ll probably be a brand-new character to Riverdale, rather than a pre-existing character.

Batman/Scooby-Doo crossover and other DC digital comics

DC announced new digital comics for this fall. Among the offerings include comics based on “Teen Titans Go!” and “Beware the Batman,” as well as a new “Batman/Scooby-Doo” team-up comic. That makes the second DC comic named “Teen Titans Go!”; the original was the comic based on the 2000s “Titans” animated series. As for Bats and Scooby, I wonder what version or depiction of Batman the comic will use… Batman’s Bronze Age version? One of the animated series’ renditions?

Warner Archive announces “Space Stars,” “Captain Caveman”

Warner Archive announced that they’re releasing the latest Hanna-Barbera series to DVD, “Space Stars” and “Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels.” I’ve written about Cavey before, of course. “Space Stars” was an early 80s anthology series, made during the anthology’s waning days on Saturday mornings. The series consisted of new episodes of “The Herculoids,” “Space Ghost,” and new entries “Teen Force” plus “Astro and the Space Mutts.”

“Teen Force” was about teenage crime fighters from an alternate dimension. “Astro and the Space Mutts” was the show’s comedic entry, featuring Astro from “The Jetsons” working as a canine space cop along with a group of other bumbling dogs, all led by a constantly-exasperated human leader.

“The Jetsons” had been a perennial mainstay of Saturday mornings and/or syndication for almost 20 years by this point, so I presume Hanna-Barbera felt bringing back Astro (at least) might be worthwhile. “The Jetsons” itself would receive a full revival several years after “Space Stars” left the air (it only lasted one season).

DC announces a “World’s Finest” movie

One of the most discussed announcements at SDCC is that “Man of Steel” will have a sequel, but instead of being a stand-alone Superman movie, it’ll be a team-up with Batman. This film, due in 2015, will be followed by a Flash movie, then a Justice League film.

While a “World’s Finest” team-up has been long awaited and desired by fans, going about it this way has too many cynical overtones. For starters, there’ll be less room to clear up any of “Man of Steel”‘s lingering plot points/elements in any real way. It also implies DC has no confidence in Superman carrying his own sequel, let alone a trilogy. The fact that Warner Bros. is desperate to mimic the success of Marvel/Disney and have their own JLA movie also lingers over this odd decision. Letting Superman carry his own sequel and saving a Batman team-up for part three (or a stand-alone film) apparently would take too long for Warner Bros.

Another possible reason for this might be that while successful, “Man of Steel” isn’t as beloved as “Iron Man 3,” which eclipsed it by $100 million+ domestically easily; IM3’s foreign take of $800 million alone outdoes MOS’ domestic and foreign take combined. Meanwhile, “Despicable Me 2” looks poised to also surpass “Man of Steel” domestically. The mixed reviews by critics and fans (who either love MOS or hate it) also suggest “Man of Steel” won’t go down as beloved as the Reeve-era Superman films or the Nolan-era Batman films. Given all of this, perhaps Warner Bros. thought that a stand-alone “Man of Steel” sequel wouldn’t do well enough, and went with their major superhero crutch, Batman, to guarantee a crowd.

And it seems I’m not the only one who views DC/Time-Warner’s treatment of Batman as a superhero crutch: a Forbes magazine writer’s written about this, as well, summing up my criticisms of excessive reliance on Batman (to the point of this MOS sequel announcement). The writer even notes the excessive number of Batman TV cartoons in recent years, another criticism I’ve had.

Of course, in a more logical universe, we’d see a Wonder Woman movie before a JLA film, with a Flash movie merely a possible spin-off. But since it’s Hollywood, sexism rules, so I assume superhero comics’ premiere heroine will be treated merely as the “token chick.” Bonus “points” if they also make her like her Xena-knockoff “New 52” version.

One final note of concern is the SDCC announcement presented this news with a quote from “The Dark Knight Returns.” While it’s a nice Batman story, it’s not the model I want to see used for Superman or the Superman/Batman relationship. While “heroes fighting when they first meet” is a long-standing superhero comic tradition, I suspect we’ll be seeing Batman (improbably) beating up Superman, to keep with TDKR/highlighting Batman overshadowing Supes in what’s supposedly his own sequel. It’d also please the “Batman can beat anyone with enough time to prepare” fans, and keep with the previous MOS entry’s cynical take on the Man of Tomorrow. If so, I’ll probably be linking to this cartoon a lot come 2015. (Yes, the cartoon’s out of character for Supes, but it’s a parody…).

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