An inside look at DC Comics and some of the heroes they have created.
Written and Directed by – Mac Carter
Starring – Ryan Reynolds, Neil Gaiman, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Dwayne McDuffie, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, Jim Lee, Mark Waid, Paul Levitz, Dan Didio, Paul Pope, Mike Carlin, Karen Berger, Louise Simonson
This doc isn’t at all what I thought I was getting into when I picked it up. I’ve read the story of DC Comics before and there’s a lot more to them than just Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman so I assumed that I would just be getting what I read in a visual format. Something that is well suited for a movie about a comic book company. The film is really more about the major superhero characters that DC has built and how society influenced the medium of comics as well as its creators. This is far more interesting than how DC went from making odd pulp comics to superheroes.
The idea of comics is still widely regarded as a childish past time. What kind of adult would read a book of pictures? As a very big comic reader with two kids of my own I can tell you that it’s a small feat to try to find something that the kids can appreciate. Comics aren’t really written for kids anymore. There’s a quote in the film that perfectly sums up the world of comics. “If you took the best artist in the world and the best writer in the world and they created something, you know what you would call it? A comic book.” It’s an art form that is recognized as such very rarely. Most people turn to Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns as examples of the medium at its best but seeing the story behind the heroes leads to a new appreciation of the entire industry.
After spending about 5 minutes on the actual creation of DC Comics the story turns to the creation of Superman. This makes sense as the heroes of comics are really what everyone expects when they think of DC. What’s so much fun to watch, and very informative at the same time, is the motivation of the artists and writers of DC Comics. As much as film is an outlet for expressions of the current society they are created in, comics may be even more so.
The movie tends to focus on major events that took place at DC Comics in relation to major events in the world. WWII and its effect on how the heroes are portrayed, feminism and its role in the mythology of Wonder Woman or even the comics portrayal of drugs as awareness of them in the world rose. These events shaped what the heroes would represent and how they would react in their fantastic storylines. It’s understandable since a comic isn’t created by a machine though. The artists and writers channel their own experiences in life into the characters that they create.
Most of the story is focused on the three big characters at DC. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. They’re the longest running characters for the comic giant and easily the most recognizable. Their influence may not be obvious but I remember when Superman had been killed in the early 90′s and it seemed that all the other news just stopped for a moment. It was a big deal and everyone seemed to have an opinion on it. Unfortunately it’s also led to an endless stream of copycats and the killing of a comic character is usually nothing more than a big joke to its readers.
Being a huge comic reader and fan, I often find myself trying to explain it all to someone. This doc really sums it all up very well and maybe I’ll actually have an answer for those people now. The heroes are what we want to be, what we strive to be. They’re full of gorgeous artwork, powerful stories and characters that we should all aspire to be like. The movie is at its best when it explores the stories behind the comics. Denny O’Neal relates some hilarious stories about some of his own creations and there’s some great interviews with Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman.
The movie may not deliver the story behind the creation of DC Comics like one may be thinking but what it does bring is something even better. It gives validation for those of us who have always been fans of comic books. It shows that comics aren’t something for little kids but for intelligent, artistic adults. There’s always a place for the kids in the comic world, comics wouldn’t be where they are now if it wasn’t for kids, but the film shows us that there is much more to comics than strangely dressed men and women. It explores the individuals behind the stories who come to the comic industry with something to say and ideas to challenge our way of thinking. They’re funny, serious, intelligent and passionate and some of their stories can be truly inspiring. Anyone with even the slightest interest in comics, writing or art should check this movie out. Maybe a movie like this can convince some people that comics aren’t the childish hobby they think it is.
Under the marquee – Will