Brainiac On Banjo #004: Do WHAT To Batman?

One of the least surprising announcements made at the just-concluded San Diego Comic Con was the detailed debut of the forthcoming DC Universe streaming service.

The short reveal: this service will deliver a bunch of brand-new superhero teevee shows (Titans, The Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, Young Justice: Outsiders, Harley Quinn, and Stargirl), evidently dumping most of an entire “season” at once in Netflix-like action. They’ll also offer much of their massive library feature-length movies, both animated and live action, and television shows, both animated and live action. You’ll be able to read various DC Comics right there on the screen, participate in discussions, look-up stuff in their encyclopedia, take a shot at a contest or two, and, surprise, buy all sorts of exclusive crap.

All of this happens for a mere $7.95 a month, or the cost of about two DC superhero comics. If you’re my age that probably seems high, but your mileage may vary. You get a 20% discount if you order a year in advance. There’s an even better deal going if you give them your money right now, trusting them to provide sufficient bang for your buck.

They showed a couple of trailers at SDCC because that’s what you do at SDCC. The big takeaway last week – their Titans trailer is 1:52 minutes of violent quick-cuts built around Robin’s verbalized oath “Fuck Batman!”

Well, the trailer is TV-MA. I guess that stands for “Mature Adults,” which is funny because such language often is perceived as immature. To me, a TV-MA is Barbara Billingsley. But (Hi, Peter!) I digress.

You might think Robin would never say “Fuck Batman.” Holy euphemism, Bat-fan! I find that impossible to believe. Robin was a kid who grew into a teenager, as many do. During that process, kids start to push the limits of proper behavior. That’s completely “normal;” it’s part of learning how to assert their independence in preparation for adulthood. In response, parents push back, not wanting to admit their kid is going through routine moral teething. Obviously, these adults suffer from long-term memory loss and no longer recall what they were like when they were that age… and kids are particularly sensitive to parental hypocrisy.

Now, when you look up the phrase “control freak” you see Batman’s picture. In fact, I believe the Patent Bureau gave Bruce Wayne a registered trademark on the term. Proctologists have no cure for that degree of anal retentiveness, which is why we will be reassured when Batman, like Superman, goes back to wearing his underpants outside his costume. So when it comes to teen-age push back, Robin looks at Batman and sees the Rock of Gibraltar.

Ergo, “Fuck Batman.” If Robin didn’t have that attitude, if he didn’t need to get out from under the Bat-thumb, there never would have been a Teen Titans in the first place.

It’s starting to look as though Netflix is getting squeezed by both Marvel and DC. Marvel’s output is likely to be removed from Netflix after current contracts expire – along with the rest of the Disney catalog. This may or may not include Marvel’s original shows made for the streaming service through Disney’s ABC Studios division. I think it’s likely to assume the same thing will happen with DC’s movies and television library. Netflix will survive. Probably.

But… how many such streaming services is a viewer likely to buy? There’s only so much credit on the card, and there’s only so much time to spend gawking at our various video brain infusion devices. Eight bucks a month may or may not seem like a lot of money – it depends on your take on value. But Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, DC Universe, et al and you’re talking some serious money. You’ve also got to pay for some sort of Wi-Fi or LTE service.

We’ll see. Our entertainment landscape changes about as fast as Trump scandals, so don’t get used to anything. Services will succeed, change, fail, merge, disappear and probably mutate into some horrible brain disease, although the latter might not happen until we are forced to get those government-mandated brain chips.

I, for one, subscribed to DC Universe because when Dick Grayson says “Fuck Batman…” as a one-time teenager, I understand his feelings.

I’ll bet you do, too.