Is DC Universe Collapsing?

Where We Were

When DC Universe launched August 2018, with its promise of a movie/TV/comics/community/merchandise/sweepstakes platform, most people were a little more than cautious toward it. There’d be some comics, but they would rotate on and off the service over time, and there would be shows, but they didn’t exist yet, and you could buy a T-shirt or browse a fairly dead forum.

It almost seemed like a sucker’s bet, and it was exclusive to the United States, to boot (everyone else can just wait on Netflix licensing, I guess?). Would I at least get assigned a personal wallet inspector as a pre-order bonus?

Where We Are

Ten months later, DC Universe has some meat on its bones. Titans has been renewed for a second season, Young Justice is back and great as it has ever been, Doom Patrol is a standout oddity, new animated movies like Justice League Vs The Fatal Five have been popping up, and casting and production announcements for upcoming series look promising, such as Stargirl. I won two tickets to a Death of Superman / Reign of the Supermen theatrical double feature, which was nice, and they also appeared for streaming, along with the recent Krypton series. There was a fun “who would win” themed Meta Madhouse tournament bracket in March, and lots more viewer discussion with each new series.

…That’s not nothing, right? Plus the comics selection expanded to over 21,000 issues, with new releases added weekly on a 12-month delay from street date. Some people bristle at how the comics library still isn’t truly complete, but for everyone else, there are listicles offering curious readers guideposts through DC’s characters and franchises. All this for less than Marvel Unlimited seems like a nice deal, though DC Universe will soon have to contend with Disney+. At least the new Swamp Thing series is off to a great start and shows Warner Bros.’s commitment to quality programming, right?

Where Are We Going?

Whoops! Not only was Swamp Thing suddenly cut down from 13 episodes to 10 several weeks ago, but that season will be the only one. The mismanagement would be easier to swallow if the show sucked, but I’ve watched the pilot and it’s pretty good, with excellent practical effects (never doubt James Wan nor Virginia Madsen). Carolyn says it’s at turns horrifying and sympathetic. There are still conflicting stories over how these decisions happened, with North Carolina’s tax incentive blamed one minute and vindicated the next.

So… how about them Titans, eh? And Stargirl? A Metropolis series, too, or should I rely on reruns of The Adventures of Lois & Clark? Will future DC Universe announcements have any credibility, or should fans look forward to a WarnerMedia platform that will probably merge HBO, Cinemax, and a bunch of shows and movies for $17/month? DC Universe is currently $8/month, or $6.25/month with an annual subscription – a rate that’s actually competitive with the likes of Marvel Unlimited’s $10/month and Disney+’s $7/month.

We’ll Always Have Supergirl 1984

What’s next for the service? Does it have a future beyond the shows currently in production? It’s been a great boon for DC nostalgia, especially when it comes to Batman (animated series, Beyond, pre-Nolan films), Superman (animated series, Christopher Reeves era), Super Friends, 1970s Shazam! (including a nifty film restoration featurette), 1990s The Flash (John Wesley Shipp! Mark Hamill!), Green Lantern Animated Series, Teen Titans, Young Justice… yup, those were the days.

A lot of articles use a question as a headline then don’t answer the question – all I’ve got here is a giant “Maybe/Probably.” DC Universe is a growing portal for DC content, and that’s fine, but I can’t help but predict it will get rolled into a larger platform in an effort to make more money each month. Disney+, Amazon, and Netflix aren’t competition because they also have superhero stuff, they’re competition because people would rather subscribe to one or two services and forget the rest. Whomever has the most content will win.

Maybe one day we’ll look back and remark how quaint it was that things like DC Universe, Criterion Channel, and CBS All Access ever existed, back in the pre-Singularity era. Yup, Supergirl (1984) sure was weird.

Thomas is a teen services librarian who reads way too many comics. He can be found gobbling pancakes at the nearest diner with Jessica Cruz, Forsythe Jones III, Jane Foster, and Hellboy. He reviews media for the public here and graphic novels for librarians at No Flying, No Tights.

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