With each passing year, the comic book genre seemingly reasserts itself as the dominant force on the big screen. They gross millions, earn plaudits from critics and audiences alike and, it must be said, defy convention. Not a year goes by where a commentator hails the impending fatigue of the genre, but here we are – almost ten years after the creation of the MCU – with Fox, Marvel and Warner Bros. all having continually contributed to the annual comic book gross in some way or another.
With prophecies of audience fatigue and dwindling box-office receipts littering the discourse surrounding the genre, there also comes the annual spate of praise for certain releases that seemingly galvanise an ostensibly stale genre formula. In 2014 it was Guardians of the Galaxy, this year it was Spider-Man, and next year it will, imaginably, be Infinity War, the third release in the Avengers series.
The important thing to note with the genre on both the small and big screens is that each year the stakes are raised, and studios – quite rightly – look to adapt the most famous and revered storylines from the source material, to varying degrees of success. There are certain elements from the medium that do, of course, lend themselves well to live action. But there are also elements that are just inherently unadaptable – or are at least seen that way – which raises a whole new quandary altogether: how do you adapt the unadaptable?
It’s a question that both Marvel and DC will no doubt be asking in the weeks and months ahead, as both studios gear up to deliver their most ambitious projects yet.
When it was announced that the upcoming Flash solo film would be titled Flashpoint, DC fans were sent into a flurry of speculation. While it could be the case that the title behind Barry Allen’s solo movie debut could be just that, a title, the likelihood is that it’s a hint towards the film’s narrative direction, which – if indeed a Flashpoint adaptation – will no doubt involve time travel, dimension-hopping, and all the rest of it.
Intrinsic to the story of Flashpoint is the concept of a ‘multiverse’, contained within the wider DC Universe itself. There are fifty-two worlds in the multiverse, complete with their own unique versions of DC’s iconic cast of characters. That’s a pretty wild concept to introduce into the DCEU, especially since at the end of Flashpoint the entire universe rebooted into the New 52; could it be the case that DC are rebooting their universe already?
It’s unlikely, but still, Flashpoint is a very ambitious story to adapt to the big screen. And what WB have seemingly forgotten is that, while the world of Flashpoint was critically well-received (particularly the stuff involving Batman), the actual storyline wasn’t. So what you’re left with, in essence, is a story that’s unpopular, with a premise that’s convoluted, situated within the context of a burgeoning (and maligned) cinematic universe.
It’s an odd choice, to say the least. Especially when there are so many Flash stories out there that would make cracking solo films in their own right.