A ‘Batman’ Versus ‘Captain Marvel’ Showdown Would Be Self-Defeating, Self … – Forbes

The big rumor from yesterday concerns Batman. It specifically concerns the possibility of a stand-alone Batman film as part of Warner Bros.’ ongoing DC Comics Cinematic Universe. Periodic Forbes contributor Dave Gonzales, writing for Latino Review, dropped the would-be news that Warner was prepping The Batman, which would both star and be directed by Ben Affleck. There have been rumblings about that ever since Affleck signed on to play Bruce Wayne in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice back in August of 2013. What makes this rumor interesting, with the caveat that we probably won’t know if it’s true until SDCC next month if not much later, is that the powers that be are intending to slot the film on or around the same November 2nd, 2018 slot where Walt Disney Walt Disney is planning to debut Marvel’s Captain Marvel. I have little trouble believing that that there will eventually be a stand-alone Batman movie as part of the ongoing universe, especially if Affleck’s work in Dawn of Justice is well-received. I hope that release date part is not true, as it creates a needless and frankly silly showdown of what may well be mutually assured destruction.

To wit, a stand-alone Batman movie starring and directed by Ben Affleck was always Time Warner Time Warner Inc.’s trump card to play at some point. It is the one magic bullet they have to keep the DC Universe going strong should some or many of the other films not work financially. And we all know that Warner is planning a “leave everything on the floor” San Diego Comic Convention panel in order to try to get the geek media back in their corner as Marvel sits this year out, and an announcement of a Ben Affleck-starring The Batman would arguably help accomplish that. But Warner Bros. doesn’t need to “beat” Marvel at Comic Con or even at the box office, they merely need to make movies that make a decent chunk of change relative to their respective budgets and respective expectations. At the end of the day, Warner needs to get people interested in the films that are coming next year, not the ones that are coming in 2018 or 2020.

They need a lively, colorful, and “fun” Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice sizzle reel with lots of Wonder Woman. They need a darkly funny and somewhat violent Suicide Squad sizzle reel with just enough Harley Quinn and Joker footage to wet the appetites. Even announcing a deluge of details about future projects won’t have the same weight as similar Marvel plays as Marvel as the history to back them up. Until next year, all Warner has is one Superman movie that was indifferently received. Make the sale for the films you’ve got, and then worry about building excitement for theoretical projects. And, if I may, keep The Batman in your pocket for an emergency. It’s your get-out-of-jail-free card that will both be a guaranteed hit and a launching pad for a “Plan B” DC franchise of “Brave and the Bold” type team-up films with Batman and whatever heroes you want. But if you want fans to get excited about The Flash or Cyborg, don’t validate the notion that a stand-alone Batman movie is what they really want. But if there is going to be a stand-alone The Batman, then that release date is frankly a terrible idea.

The notion that DC and Marvel films should be going head-to-head is an infantile one born of pre-adolescent posturing. Regardless of the outcome, a DC superhero movie and a Marvel superhero movie opening basically head-to-head will automatically make less than if they opened a safe distance from each other. At the end of the day, these big superhero movies only really need about 4-6 weeks in between each other, as most of the biggest movies are basically played out domestically by the end of the sixth week anyway. As we’ve seen over the last few years, especially with Warner Bros. /Time Warner, a would-be blockbuster can open anywhere. And if anything, an offseason debut would increase the likelihood of legs, as we saw with The LEGO Movie, Gravity, Guardians of the Galaxy, and American Sniper among others. If Warner really wants to test the waters, they could do worse than slotting a surefire “mega-smash any time, any day” Batman movie outside of the conventional blockbuster season.

You do what Universal/Comcast Comcast Corp. did with the Fast/Furious films and you basically create your own prime release date. Warner somewhat did it with that mid-July slot last decade and it paid off with the likes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, three Harry Potters, two Dark Knights, Inception, and The Conjuring. Moreover, the specific release date choice has another negative effect, one that goes to the headline of this piece. Going head-to-head with Captain Marvel puts you in the would-be villain position of stomping on Marvel Studio’s first female-centric superhero movie. However unfair it is, there will be enormous pressure for Captain Marvel to perform at or around the levels of the initial installments of the likes of Thor, Captain America, and Ant-Man. If The Batman opens on the same date or in a close vicinity, the perception in the media will be that the big, mean Batman movie will be doing real box office harm to the oh-so-important first Marvel female superhero movie. The Batman will be the movie we don’t need and don’t deserve right now, while Captain Marvel will be even more of the underdog.

If The Batman stomps on Captain Marvel, which is the (barring all unknown variables)  the likely scenario, it gets whipped in the media and by various fan bases for doing real harm to the concept of a female superhero movie. If Captain Marvel is a huge hit anyway, or heaven forbid outperforms The Batman, then the perception will be one of utter defeat, righteous defeat no less. If that sounds silly, just remember how eager the media was to bag on Edge of Tomorrow so they could write about how Tom Cruise got beaten up by a girl (Shailene Woodley’s The Fault in Our Stars). That both were good movies, both had interesting female characters, and that the whole notion of “Ha, ha, a girl beat a boy!” is sexist on its face (because it presumed that boys beating girls is still the standard operating procedure) won’t change the pull of that narrative. The Batman opened in the direct path of Captain Marvel is the definition of a lose/lose scenario. Will this hurt the box office for The Batman? No, it will probably not. But it will be a wholly unnecessary public relations/media headache that can be avoided by opening the film at basically any other time of the year.

I do believe that, with the presumption of scheduling and public perception working in everyone’s favor, that we will eventually see a stand-alone Ben Affleck Batman movie. If I were Warner I’d hide that card for the moment, so as to not create the impression that you’re so skittish about the already announced films that you’re again leaning on the crutch of the Bat. But if they want to “win” Comic-Con by announcing The Batman, so be it. But a head-to-head matchup with Captain Marvel is a terrible idea, because anything that hurts the overall grosses of The Batman by even a little bit is a bad thing and any film that hurts the overall grosses of Captain Marvel automatically becomes the de-facto villain. Besides, this is 2015, blockbusters can open at anytime and anywhere if the budget is right. If anything, dropping a Batman movie in mid-September, however risky that might be, can signal to Hollywood a sense of utter and total confidence if that’s how you sell it. The g**-d*** Batman doesn’t need prime real estate to pull prime box office!

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