It has become increasingly clear that many fans are stuck in an endless loop when it comes to WB “announcements” that don’t go their way.
To begin with, they are usually not announcements most of the time. It’s actually scoops, reports or what “sources say” is happening with a particular WB production, especially when it comes to anything involving DC properties.
So first a scooper or trade publication puts out a story, or a tweet in many cases. Then others pick it up and disseminate it, including regurgitator sites that take it upon themselves to write a loaded headline that is more speculation than fact, but that technically doesn’t have any lies in it and is based on basic knowledge we already have.
If one of these reports is something that fans don’t like, such as Swamp Thing not being renewed for a second season, this is where the loop begins. It starts with anger over the decision itself, then it becomes anger that it’s another decision they don’t like, which turns into “WB doesn’t care about us,” and after most of DC Twitter is besieged with frustration and hurt feelings, it finally ends with “WB’s PR is a mess” because they didn’t get a press release or official statement about the decision that was made that angered them.
Rinse and repeat the next time one of these decisions goes south for fans.
This is nothing new for DC fans; it’s been a rampant complaint for the past three years since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and it’s only gotten worse, especially after what happened with Justice League. We’ve now reached a point where fans aren’t just outraged constantly at WB, they are looking for reasons to be outraged with them.
It’s not that difficult of a search either because the expectations of the fans when it comes to public relations are just this shy of completely unreasonable when you really think about it. Many who complain about WB’s PR often use Marvel Studios as the example of what they feel WB should be doing in that department, controlling the narrative and constantly communicating with their fans to keep them happy.
The thing is, many of those fans that want that from WB are the first ones to complain about the same exact thing when Marvel actually does it, like when the studio builds certain relationships and engenders favoritism from critics and bloggers, or when Kevin Feige and the directors of certain Marvel movies make repeated statements explaining things and announcing intentions. That’s all controlling the narrative and constantly communicating with fans to keep them happy, isn’t it? So, do you want that from WB or not? That’s a decision for you to make, but you can’t have it both ways.
In addition, the irrational anger and frustration shown by fans about WB’s decisions also demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of how the business works in Hollywood, most notably the part where a studio is not required, nor is it always in its best interest to disclose details and reasoning behind a particular decision that is made. Just because you are a fan that pays for DC Universe or buys a ticket to a DC Extended Universe film, doesn’t mean you are entitled to an explanation of why a business decision was made regarding either one. Nor is it WB’s job to drop everything they are doing with regard to making movies, shows and media content just to quell rumors and make fans feel better about what is going on with their productions, because the truth is that fans are never going to feel 100% better about it, even if they say they will.
Fans are nothing if not fickle. If they love you on Monday, they can quickly hate you on Tuesday. Now thanks to social media, they can hate you at 10am and love you by noon on the same day, so why waste valuable time and energy putting out every fire started by a scooper, blogger or Twitter troll? We should have been past this with Patty Jenkins speaking about how she knew the rumors about Wonder Woman being a mess weren’t true but she had to finish the movie instead of deal with internet trolls on the regular, or when so many freaked out about Matt Reeves walking away from the bargaining table with Batman only to be signed a week or two later, but that’s just proof of how fickle fans are and how short their memories can be.
On top of all that, fans are a small percentage of the entire audience at large. How small? Tiny. In fact, so tiny that any attempts to provide PR support would only benefit them because they are the ones paying attention. The rest of the general audience at large? They’ll be there when the film opens granted that they were flooded with enough marketing and saw enough in that marketing to be interested in the project. Aquaman is proof of this. So is Shazam given that it made three times its budget in an unforgiving release date.
So, when fans call WB’s PR “messy,” they really mean “I’m not being heard and since I’m the one buying their stuff, I deserve to be heard.” That’s your business if you want to feel that way, but you’re not the priority. The general audience that largely doesn’t know about all of the extra stuff because they don’t largely pay attention to it is the priority. They are so fickle that they have trouble remembering if Wonder Woman is an Avenger or not, and a number of them don’t even remember that Bruce Wayne’s parents were brutally murdered in an alley, leading him to become Batman. I’m not kidding, that’s real. This is part of why we’ve seen the Waynes die multiple times in film and TV for the past 3 decades, and why we’ll likely see it again in Matt Reeves’ Batman film in 2021.
Many if not most of the Marvel Studios fans are general audience, meaning it doesn’t take much after the first Avengers movie to keep them happy. Plus, since the movies are almost entirely built assembly-line style as standard action vehicles with the general audience in mind, there’s not much of a narrative to control. It’s already there, especially now 22 movies in. This is why the Marvel example with PR is a bad one, especially since many DC fans, me included, have stated that the last thing we want to see DC turn into is a carbon copy of Marvel.
The bottom line is, you can’t have it both ways as a fan. If you want the freedom, if you want things to be open-ended, and if you want DC to be lauded and appreciated by all, then you have to let them do what they do, even if you don’t like it. That doesn’t mean you can’t complain about it or have issues with the decisions they make, it just means that maybe you should try to understand the nature of the business itself and realize that you are not entitled to a detailed explanation of all of it the next time you decide to call its PR “messy.” It’s only messy for YOU and those who agree with you, and that’s not a sizeable number no matter what it looks like on Twitter.