A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics

June 19, 2011

Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics

A while back Amanda and I bought a big pile of movies from the husband of one of her co-workers, who buys lots of movies on e-bay and craigslist and breaks them up. Amongst the flotsam we found this title, a documentary I have never heard of before but which intrigued me. We had to have it in our collection, of course, because comic book movies are so prevalent in the movies I’ve gathered over the years. Until tonight, however, we didn’t really have any reason to watch it. Today we went to go see the new Green Lantern movie (which I didn’t hate, and which we’ll review when we buy it later this year) and so we figured that a documentary about DC would be perfect. Even better? It’s narrated by Ryan Reynolds – the star of Green Lantern.

I’m curious about where this documentary comes from. It seems clear to me that it’s part of the PR machine for DC and Warner Brothers – intended to help promote their many animated and live action movies as well as the comic books. Who was it intended for though? I never saw any mention of the movie before we came across it and I don’t think it was ever in theaters or in video stores. Perhaps it was shown on television? I honestly don’t know. The director and writer of the documentary, Mac Carter, doesn’t seem to exist as far as the internet is concerned. And yet the documentary itself is very nicely produced with some great archival footage and a bunch of interviews with current DC writers and editors, including such big names as Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison. They don’t just show panels from classic comic books, they have the common documentary technique of making the panels appear to have depth by cutting out the foreground elements and moving them in parallax. So some money got spent on this doc, I just can’t figure out why.

My personal experience with DC comics comes in near the end of this narrative. This movie covers everything from the very start of Superman with Action Comics #1 and goes through 2010. It covers the creation of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and many other DC characters as well as placing them in a historical context. It talks about how these characters took cues from what was going on in the world around them (particularly World War II) and it looks at how the comic books in turn influenced the world.

I consider myself a casual comic book fan, so most of the factoids presented here are familiar to me. Certainly things like the Comics Code Authority and the nadir of comic book quality is something every comic book fan should know about. So what I found most fun here were all the interviews, including archived interviews with Bob Kane, Alan Moore, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. It’s just cool to get some of the thought process behind the writing process.

When it gets to The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen and all of the books in the Vertigo imprint I felt most at home. Those are all books I’m familiar with (and I own many of them.) I also really enjoyed seeing screen tests for Christopher Reeve and a couple behind the scenes shots.

I’m not sure what else to say about this movie. It’s a documentary by DC about DC intended (i suspect) to promote DC. Possibly as a tie in to Green Lantern, I’m just not sure. I had fun watching it, and it was cool to put faces to some of the names I’m so familiar with, but I’m not quite sure why it exists and why we own it. I guess as a very quick history of Detective Comics as a company it’s pretty cool. And it did make me wonder, as I often do, why there’s no big-budget Wonder Woman movie.

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June 19, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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