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Aquaman the movie? The downside of the WB's Golden Age for Geeks

Categories: Movies

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Meet the stars of a few of Warner Brothers' Super Spandex-tic movie schedule. 

If you're not a geek with comic ink in your veins, like me, you might need some introductions. 

I'm betting you recognize the guy in the middle. 

The Flash, who you may have seen on TV in one this season's buzzed-about shows. 

But what about the other two?   

The guy with the scales in orange on the right is Aquaman, the Atlantean King of the Seven Seas.   

On the left is Cyborg, a man-machine hybrid.  

These are just a few of the characters who appear in the new plan announced Wednesday by Warner Brothers in a meeting with shareholders

For years now Marvel, which is owned by Disney, has seemed unstoppable.  

We've had Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers, Captain America and even the unlikely success of the Guardians of the Galaxy

Every summer sees a new influx of comic-inspired tentpole films, and just like the original comics, there's a greater sense of continuity -- tying all the movies together in a single shared universe. 

But what about DC Comics, home to some of the most iconic characters ever created?   

When would Warner Bros. capitalize on their content and answer back?  

Yesterday we got our answers to these questions. The studio has unveiled an ambitious schedule that features two Justice League films, plus standalone titles for Wonder Woman, Flash, Shazam (Captain Marvel), Green Lantern, Cyborg and even Aquaman (featuring Jason Momoa from Game of Thrones).   

If that wasn't enough, Warner also announced plans for 3 Lego movies (including a Lego-Batman spin off) and a three-part Harry Potter spin off, including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, beginning in 2016 and wrapping up in 2020. 

So, what does this avalanche of brand names, books and comics tell us? For one thing the endless wave of Spandex do-gooders shows no signs of fading. There are two seasons to the film industry now, the Silly Summer Season which begins in March and ends in September, followed by the Oscar Season. As mature moviegoers (and actors) flock to TV to enjoy more sophisticated storytelling, the multiplex has become the realm of big event blockbusters. The kind with built-in name recognition, easy marketability and an army of eager fans ready to spread the word and line up at midnight. 

But the rise of the brand-name blockbusters also points to another trend in Hollywood: the importance of the international market.  Increasingly, the North American box office is being overshadowed by how a film performs in Mumbai, Moscow and Shanghai. 

And what kind of film travels well?  Something with a lot of action, A-list stars and an easy to follow storyline. 

With budgets creeping over 200 million, the pressure is on to deliver more "Good vs. Evil" stories with universal appeal. That's bad news for storytellers aiming for subtlety but it signals a golden age for comic book creators. 

There's no guarantee Warner Bros. will hold fast to its ambitious plan of bang-pow films. All it takes is one supersized stumble and this golden age could tarnish real quick. For now, it's a great time to be a geek, but not so much for fans of serious films. As none other than Avengers director Joss Whedon once told me, [the studios] are eliminating the middle movie." Meaning: the days of semi-serious films with stars and a 40 million dollar budget are numbered. 

For Warner Bros., and other studios, it's go big or die.



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