Joss Whedon on why DC Comics Characters don’t work as films:

DC’s characters, like Wonder Woman and Superman and Green Lantern, were all very much removed from humanity. Batman was the only character they had who was so rooted in pain, that had that same gift that the Marvel characters had, which was that gift of humanity that we can relate to.

via Cinematical.


  1. I have to disagree on this one. I was just thinking last night about the scene in the original Superman movie with Christopher Reeve when his father dies. He has all these powers and he can’t save him. That showed a really human vulnerability. It also speaks to our ability to accrue power. In the end, all the worldly power we can possess doesn’t allow us to change many of the fundamental parts of life or death.

  2. Sounds like sour grapes on Whedon’s part.

    Realistically, let’s look at the Marvel heroes who’ve enjoyed cinematic popularity and those who haven’t.

    Spider-Man – People loved the first one and were happy with the second one. The third probably caused a fair number to jump ship.

    Iron Man – Nobody could have predicted this—that a second-tier Marvel hero could have the most well-received Marvel film.

    The X-Men – After a boring first movie that nobody particularly cared about, X2 finally told a compelling story and made the banal mutants of the first film interesting and possibly engaging. Just in time for the third film to kill most of them off and alienate most of the fans that X2 had created.

    Hulk – While neither film was counted a success and the first one (though i liked it well enough) was poorly enough received that Marvel decided to reboot entirely and pretend Ang lee’s version never happened, Hulk is still better off than loads of other Marvel properties.

    Blade – The first film evidently did well enough in its sector to merit two sequels (I abstained after seeing Film #1). Still, nobody is waiting for another Blade movie. And still less are aware that Blade is a Marvel character.

    Punisher – Marvel tried three different times with this one and each has failed miserably. Ironically, the Punisher books are some of Marvel’s most popular.

    Daredevil – Did anyone care? No. No they didn’t.

    Elektra – It’s not surprising that a supporting character from Daredevil didn’t really reel in an audience. Despite showing off Jennifer Garner while she was still riding the tail-end of Alias popularity.

    Captain America – Had a movie but you didn’t see it. Neither did I.

    Ghost Rider – This one was never going to work. It’d be like making an Iron Fist movie. Or Doctor Strange. Actually, a Doctor Strange movie could be interesting.

    Now DC… There’s definitely less to choose from.

    Batman is obviously widely popular and easy to write. If you’re not Joel Schumacher.

    Superman works and two well-regarded films in the early ’80s. And was probably the first hero to have a really well-received feature film. The character also spawned a wildly successful couple of television shows (Lois & Clark and Smallville) until their writers ran out of good ideas.

    Watchmen obviously has some cache and the hype for the film has caused the book to fly off shelves, keeping it consistently in the Top 10 sellers since the first trailer came out. Pretty good for a story that was completed in 1986 and reads kind of clunky.

    V for Vendetta was pretty successful, despite its pollution of its source.

    • It hasn’t been released yet, but I’ll bet that Y: The Last Man draws a decent crowd.

    Teen Titans makes a popular kids show. Same with JLA, I think.

    And that’s about the end of DC’s successes. The reasons for that are chiefly an inability of producers to understand the properties. Swamp Thing? Alan Moore turned this into a power house before he touched V or Watchmen, but the producers made it a campy piece of crap. Same thing happened to Supergirl. Of course this was the ’80s. Before directors even thought to treat the properties with respect. This is the same problem that even Marvel properties face today. Catwoman tanked despite the fact that the character as written is engaging and worthwhile—all because the property was not understood by the producers/director/etc.

    DC has three big characters, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. They call them their Trinity. The only one that is a box office no-show so far is WW. And again, producers just don’t know how to deal with the character. Writing a sex-toy or a weak woman won’t go over any better than Catwoman did, but Wonder Woman is a very peculiar creation in that she was created as an object of misogynism, the bondage-centric object of her creators odd fantasies. The won’t translate so well today. So not even her comic writers today (for the most part) really know what to do with the character.

    Yeah. So Whedon’s just making excuses for himself, I think. Or something like that.

    The Danes last blog post..20081119.ChurchLies

  3. As far as the portion you quote here Rich, I would say it’s not the characters but the writing that makes these figures relatable or not. A crappy writer can strip humanity from a mundane human, but a good writer can make even gods seem human.

    Cases in point:
    New Frontier (DC) – If you can get your hands on this two volume series (maybe at your local library), I’d recommend it. Written by Darwyn Cooke, it’s something of a reestablishment of how the Justice League got together. And it’s very human.

    Thor (Marvel) – This character is one that is rarely relateable, but Walt Simonson’s run in the ’80s humanizes him wonderfully.

    Fables (DC/Vertigo) – Bill Willingham breathes life and complexity into characters like the Big Bad Wolf and the gingerbread house witch. If those characters can be made relateable, than any can.

    Sandman (DC/Vertigo) – Morpheus is Lord of Dreams and one of the Endless. He is for all intents, immortal. None of his cares are like our cares. Yet Gaiman turns him into a wonderfully relateable figure. If Dream of the Endless can be given a sense of humanity, then certainly Superman or Wonder Woman can. And maybe even Whedon too.

    The Danes last blog post..20081119.ChurchLies

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