If it's crap ... We'll tell you
DISCLAIMER: The point of this blog is not to analyze the failure of Green Lantern or to figure out who's to blame. I don't really care. The point is that DC Comics is at the mercy of Warner Brothers when it comes to the content that get produced based on their properties. This has pros and cons, but ultimately I hope to show that their involvement with GL was minimal.
With the critical and commercial failure of Warner Brothers' Green Lantern and the extreme negativity revolving around DC Comics' upcoming, company-wide (with exceptions) reboot, it's not uncommon to go into a chatroom, message board, or comments section and find statements like, "DC sucks!" or "DC can't get their shit together!"
Look, I can't help them when it comes to their reboot. I don't understand why they're doing it if it's not a true reboot (their GL and Batman titles will continue unaffected). I also can't sympathize with the fans that can't comprehend that all their stories are imaginary, and that just because a story from last year may no longer be "in continuity" it doesn't mean that it was ripped from their hands. Sure, I was angry when Mark Waid's Birthright and Legion of Super-Heroes replaced decades-old stories, only to then quickly be retconned out in favor of Geoff Johns' own interpretations (within just 5 years!), but I favor a total reboot over headache-inducing retcons.
What I can do is step in and say that when you say, "Man, all DC can get right when it comes to movies is Batman!" You're wrong. DC has little to do with the Batman films, or any of the other media.
Until 2009, DC Comics was owned by Time Warner, a massive media conglomerate. For several decades, thanks to synergy, the movie rights to several characters were sold to Warner Brothers, the entertainment side of Time Warner. Marvel did essentially the same thing, only because they didn't have a parent company, the rights to all their characters ended up at various different studios (which is why the notion of a Avengers movie was legally impossible for a while). But whereas Marvel, thanks to its independence and dominance in the comic book industry, was able to first form Marvel Entertainment and eventally Marvel Studios, DC remained a comic book company that licenses its characters. DC did not make any of the movies, shows, or video games you dearly love. Warner Brothers (and its various subsidiaries) did. Yes, they were owned by the same company, but they were managed by competely different people.
Now I realize that things have changed. In September of '09, Warner Brothers bought DC as part of a restructuring move. DC Comics is now owned by DC Entertainment (which in turn is owned by WB, which is still owned by Time Warner). The problem is that they're just now where Marvel was ten years ago. Marvel Entertainment had credit on Spider-Man and X-Men, but they really didn't have any power. Similarly, while Geoff Johns was a "creative consultant" on Green Lantern, that didn't mean shit for the film, did it? Jonah Hex deviated from the source material in many... strange ways last year. And there's still no "shared universe" plan in place. If you read the press release that announces the formation of DCE, you'll even notice that it's vague about what the company actually does. Warner Bros. Television continues to produce their shows; Warner Premiere handles the animated DTVs; Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is in charge of video games based on their characters; and the films have all been produced by different studios and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.
For comparison, look at what Marvel is doing. After getting back the rights to several of their key characters, Marvel opened Marvel Studios and appointed Kevin Feige to produce all of their films (he is the sole credited producer on this year's Thor and Captain America), whereas previous "Marvel Entertainment" films had been produced by Avi Arad and Lauren Shuler Donner - producers who make other movies too. Feige's focus is entirely on Marvel's films because he works for them.
That's yet to happen with WB's DC films. Donald De Line and Greg Berlanti were proudly in charge of bringing you this summer's Green Lantern, while Christopher Nolan & Emma Thomas will produce next year's Batman & Superman films. Here's the key thing: none of them work for DC. DC isn't any more responsible for the actual production of these films than Marvel was for Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk, Fantastic Four, Blade, or X-Men.
I point this out because just as few people hold Marvel itself responsible for the failures of Hulk and Elektra, so shouldn't you directly blame DC because Jonah Hex and Green Lantern have been among the biggest summer bombs in recent history. They don't have control over what gets produced. The best they can do is send Geoff Johns over to go, "Hey guys! You should use Parallax in your movie!" I mean, it's not like he's going to even have anything to do with The Dark Knight Rises. Warner Brothers would stop him before he gets to the set, grab him by the collar, and tell him, "Don't you fuck with Mr. Nolan. That man has made us over a billion and a half dollars."
There are pros and cons to how business has been conducted so far. I don't think Batman Begins and The Dark Knight would've been as good films if there'd been someone in charge going, "We need three geeky references in this scene, and you need to rewrite the ending into a cliffhanger that leads into next year's Justice League movie. Also, introduce Aquaman so we don't have to waste money on a film that won't make back its budget, but also so the audience knows who he is when he shows up in next year's Justice League movie. Did we mention we're making a Justice League movie next year?" That's just not how I think movies should be made.
But if you're going to bitch and moan, point your complaints at the right people.
ADDENDUM: After reading through the comments, it's clear that there's confusion.
1) As I said before, the point was never to point the blame at someone. The film did badly at the box office because it's not a good film. And this isn't the Great Mystery of Why GL Is So Bad. The flaws are on the screen and have been pointed out ad naseum. Repeating them accomplishes nothing. Others liked the movie - great.
I made this blog post because I've seen people talk as if DC is an identical company as Marvel. I tried to explain the structure of DC in relation to Time Warner and Warner Brothers in the hopes that it would explain why it's taking so long to get a Wonder Woman movie, or a Flash movie, or even a Justice League movie. It's because different producers are trying to adapt these properties, and no one is working in tandem - PLUS, the same producers have other projects that they're working on. They have no commitment to getting a good Superman movie on the screen - they just care if it'll make them money.
2) I've been criticized because if DC is allowing this to happen; allowing their properties get mined because of their own business decisions, then how are they not responsible for how bad GL was? That's easy. Because they didn't make it. In a karmic way, DC may be responsible, but they did not make the movie. Conversely, how amazing was The Dark Knight? It was the same business practices that led up to that movie being made - but they didn't make it either!
Marvel made Iron Man, Thor, Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and The Avengers. They have more personal investment in these projects. You cannot say that DC made The Dark Knight or Green Lantern because that is a false statement.