Brainiac On Banjo: Should Hope Reign In Burbank?

Hope for the best, expect the worst! Some drink champagne, some die of thirst. No way of knowing which way it’s going. — Mel Brooks, Hope For The Best (Expect The Worst)

When Warner Bros Discovery revealed James Gunn and Peter Safran would be running their all-new DC Studios (as if there’s more than one), many of us lifted their faces out of our own puke in the hope it was the dawning of a new day. Well, with luck, it will be… although you can’t really blame us for taking a wait-and-see attitude.

I certainly appreciate and trust James Gunn. I love his work on the Guardians of the Galaxy and Peacemaker, and his The Suicide Squad was great fun. Better still, he treated my oldest friend and honored collaborator John Ostrander right, and that means so much to me I’d throw Gunn’s bail.

What I do not trust is, in order: 1) The “Hollywood” bureaucracy. 2) Warner-anything merging with anybody, be it Time Inc, America Online, AT&T or Discovery. Each merger made things worse for creators and end-users alike. 3) Warner Brothers Discovery in particular, and particularly how they turned the ridiculously overpriced HBOMax into a ridiculously overpriced, frustrating, mindless, and ultimately useless turd rapidly floating downstream into the sewer.

Yeah, I know. I still haven’t learned how to mince words. In “Hollywood” uppermost management is considered a temp job and contracts don’t mean a damn. If you don’t deliver what bureaucrat of the day thinks will get him a nice eight-figure bonus, you’re thumb is going to get a nice highway airing. And the way WBD has been running the plant thus far, nobody would be surprised if, in two or three years, Warners is on the block once again.

The first thing Gunn and Safran had to do was clear out the chaff. Does DuPont still make napalm? The fact is, when it comes to the heavy lifting — heavy firing — much of the work was done prior to their appointment. Faster than you can shout “Black Adam 2,” Batgirl, the Batman the Animated Series revival, and maybe Harley Quinn (hard to tell; the new guys say they like it and Mr. Gunn actually was in it) have disappeared from the schedules. So have The Doom Patrol (the greatest teevee show since The Prisoner), The Titans, and probably others that do not appear on my Topps DCEU series one checklist.

You might wonder why I still subscribe to HBOMax. Ask me again when Doom Patrol is over — just in time for the new Doom Patrol comic book, of course. And I might bail earlier after they merge Discovery Plus into their oozing cascade of failure if they raise their prices. Why should I pay anything for of all the brand-new Discovery shit that I didn’t want to subscribe to when it was a stand-alone service. I pay enough for my streaming and, whereas the others are raising or have raised their prices as well, they didn’t shitcan damn near everything I really enjoyed.

Yes, I understand they’re “trying” to shop their corpses around to other streamers. Like I said, I pay enough for my streaming already.

Gunn says the Batgirl movie was rotten and unfixable, and I believe him. That happens even when corporate doesn’t need a huge tax write-off. I probably would have watched it on HBOMax as long as its running time was no longer than a fraction of The Snyder League’s. I am looking forward to many of their newly announced projects: the animated Creature Commandos is a clever place to start, the new Amanda Waller show with Viola Davis is a terrific idea, and the brand-new “forget about the series that was announced but also shitcanned” Green Lantern series doesn’t seem to violate the ending to Deadpool 2. Paradise Lost sounds like a real challenge, but that’s fine as long as John Milton gets a check. As for Booster Gold; hey, we can use a good laugh for at least another two years, as long as Dan Jurgens gets a check.

Gunn’s take on Superman is promising… if Zack Snyder isn’t involved. It’s been decades since I’ve looked forward to a Superman flick. Unlike Mr. Snyder, Mr. Gunn seems to actually enjoy superheroes. The announced Supergirl movie, adapted from Tom King’s brilliant mini-series, will shake up the fans of the CW show.

Like the Marvel media empire, all of the DC projects will be coordinated into one salient universe. Well, uhhh, not quite all. The Matt Reeves The Batman sub-franchise will continue to co-opt the most lucrative of the family jewels, but now under the “Not-DCEU” Elseworlds banner. This includes Colin Farrell’s Penguin streaming series and some of the other Bat projects that have been announced. I think that includes The Joker 2, which is an Elseworlds story that is else-wise from the other Elseworlds stories. If it leads to a crossover with Rocket Raccoon, maybe I’ll watch it.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad Disney bought into Doctor Who. I already pay for Disney.