By owning DC Comics, Warner Bros has a one of the most coveted treasure trove of IPs in the entire entertainment industry. Many of the world’s most iconic, popular and instantly recognizable characters are at their disposal, from Superman to Wonder Woman to the Green Lantern to the Teen Titans.
All of which begs the question why they only seem to be able to make Batman movies out of them. Up until just a few years ago, they weren’t even trying to anything else. Superman had been run into the ground by the terrible, latter-day Christopher Reeves movies, Green Lantern was dead on arrival and nobody seemed to have much interest in Wonder Woman. But executives at Warner Bros seemed to greenlight new Batman movies at the drop of a hat.
And, for better or for worse, this has changed in recent years. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy wrapping up (with no immediate replacement in sight) the very same year that The Avengers shook Hollywood to its core by proving that you could have fully fleshed-out, shared cinematic universes: where tightly interwoven movie franchises can constantly cross over into one another and, by proxy, advertise for and hype up other (presumably less popular) franchises in the company’s expansive canon. And if Marvel could do it with a couple of B-listers while not even owning all of the film rights to their own characters, then Warner Bros — who outright owned all of DC, Marvel’s main competitor and, historically, its superior — should be easily be able to do the same.
The reality of the situation, however, proved to be far different. Four years and five movies later, only one (Wonder Woman) can be considered any kind of a success. Justice League, Warner Bros’ answer to The Avengers, was a dumpster-fire of a film that will evidently lose the company North of $100 million when it finally — mercifully — bows out of theaters. Some estimates even put that number closer to $150 million.
Warner Bros’ response to their floundering mega-franchise has confused many industry observers. Even though the movie will doubtlessly lose more money in theaters than it would by gathering dust on a studio exec’s shelf, the company is pushing through with their already finished follow-up to Justice League: a solo movie starring everybody’s least-favorite Leaguer, Aquaman. That’s scheduled for December, by the way: over a full year after Justice League, during which time Marvel will have released another three films.
To combat this deluge of bad faith — not to mention their rapidly-bailing actors — Warner Bros is fast-tracking Flashpoint: a Flash “solo” movie (to use the term loosely) that, like its namesake comic, is expected to nuke DC’s existing continuity and reboot the entire franchise a few short years into its existence. After that… who knows. Warner Bros is evidently juggling three different Joker movies (to star three different actors as the iconic Clown Prince of Crime) and are ostensibly still working on sequels for many of their unloved DCEU releases.
Evidently one of the movies they’re working on stars The Question: an obscure character originally picked up from Charlatan Comics after that publisher went belly-up. He appeared minimally on the cartoon Justice League Unlimited as a superheroic conspiracy nut and is probably best known for being the wholesome inspiration for The Watchman‘s Rorschach.
The CW’s popular Arrowverse — a shared continuity TV universe that includes Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow — has telegraphed their plans for the character for years. Marc Guggenheim, the franchise’s showrunner, has hinted at his impending inclusion in the past, but nothing ever came of it. And now we know why.
Speaking in a recent interview, Guggenheim revealed that:
“I always bring him up. I always feel like that character would be a great fit with the tone of Arrow. Again: it’s not our characters, it’s DC’s characters, and they’ve got other plans for The Question… I don’t know what their plans are, but clearly they do have plans — otherwise we’d be using him.”
Here’s the thing, though. Nobody — except for maybe Marc Guggenheim — cares about The Question. The fact of the matter is that he’s not a very interesting character and doesn’t fit in with the current state of the genre (and most certainly not with the current state of DC). There’s a reason why he was little more than a recurring cameo on a decade-old cartoon and has failed to carry his own comic since his original owners went out of business.
It’s hard to say what plans Warner Bros has for the character. It could be anything from a cameo in Flashpoint to appearing in something more closely resembling a big screen Justice League Unlimited to a full solo movie. The fact that they’re barring their TV networks from making use of him, however, seems to suggest that it’s something more substantial than a bit-part in larger movie. And if they think that they can make The Question a hit when Justice League failed to deliver at the box office, they’ve got another thing coming to them.