The DCEU Has Fallen Flat On Its Face. Instead Of Trying To Fix Something So Badly Broken (Again), DC Should Play To Its Strengths. Like Awesome Super Hero-Anime Mashups
Holy Awesome, Batman.
The sour taste of Justice League was still haunting my mouth when I saw the trailer for Batman Ninja. That brilliant explosion of Japanese Dark Knight was a sweet, virtually heaven sent pallet cleanser. After seeing Bats wield a katana in medieval Japan a few dozen times I found myself asking “Justice What?”
After watching a special presentation of Vixen on the CW a few months ago, I wrote that DC would be wise to abandon the floundering DCEU and focus strictly on TV, animation and streaming. And that was before Justice League’s underwhelming performance at the box office. I argued that since DC was getting its ass handed to it by Marvel (every MCU movie outgrossed Justice League this year and no one was talking about DC’s first team up movie once the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War dropped) they should focus on their strengths.
Vixen was originally an animated web series that DC streamed on the CW Seed platform. They have since added an animated version of Constantine (voiced by fan favourite Matt Ryan) and Freedom Fighters: The Ray. They will also be resurrecting the popular Young Justice for a third season next year as well.
And while we’re talking about the CW, DC and the TV channel have formed quite the promising partnership on the small screen. While some of their ratings have slipped, the CW’s comic book shows have carved themselves a nice little niche. The recent Earth-X mega crossover got both the TV and comics fandom buzzing and the the CW family (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow) will be joined by Black Lightning in early 2018. DC has also claimed its fair share of headlines with its casting for its live action Titans series as well.
Let’s not forget the success DC has had with direct to home entertainment animation either. While it looked like that medium had taken a noticeable dip lately, recent titles like Batman: The Killing Joke, Titans: The Judas Contract and Dark Justice have put it back on the map. Meanwhile promised 2018 releases Batman By Gaslight and Batman Ninja already have fans drooling.
And while Marvel is owning the big screen, it has struggled with its on screen presence outside of Netflix. While many people will tell you that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has improved, it still needed Disney brass to intervene on its behalf and order ABC not to cancel it. Inhumans was a particularly nasty failure everyone involved with would rather forget.
Given the recent-shake up at DC following Justice League’s unspectacular failure, DC and Warner Bros. know they’re cinematic universe has effectively stalled. Focusing on its TV shows, its direct-to-home animation and streaming content (they plan on launching a DC based streaming service sometime in 2018, though details have been pretty scarce so far) wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.
DC needs to focus on winning those fights while it repairs both its cinematic brand (which has taken a beating) and plots its next move on the silver screen.
And Batman Ninja looks like an excellent step in that direction. From the looks of the trailer, after some tome travelling shenanigans both Batman, a handful of the Bat family and a whole whack of villains are sent back in time to feudal Japan. From there, some very bloody, very violent hijinks ensue.
Forget Pennywise, can any remember an animated Joker that looked so evil? This incarnation looks legitimately scary and more than Batman’s equal, ninja or otherwise.
DC didn’t take this project lightly. They’ve teamed up with some of the biggest names in Japanimation, both on the animation side AND the storytelling one. And more importantly, they managed to keep it secret in an age when details about movies two or three years off are daily click bait.
Regardless of what happens in the DCEU over the coming months (they’re still moving forward with 2018’s Aquaman, 2019’s Wonder Woman sequel and a Dwayne Johnsonless Shazam feature), it looks like Batman Ninja will be a pretty impressive feather in one of DC’s caps.