Of all the wonderful things that make San Diego Comic-Con great, nothing thrills so much as the opportunity to be among the first to see a new property come to life on screen. So when I had the chance to see the world premiere of DC Entertainment’s latest animated epic, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, I took it. And boy, am I glad I did.
The film, based on the comic book series “Flashpoint,” takes a dark departure from the typical fare in Time Warner Inc (NYSE:TWX)‘s DC Comics universe.
DC’s scarlet speedster, The Flash, races back in time to prevent the murder of his mother. He succeeds but changes history in the process, creating a fractured timeline where the world is at war, Batman isn’t quite Batman, Superman can’t be found, and Cyborg is a government official.
There’s more, but I won’t spoil it for you. Let’s just say this isn’t a kid’s film, and in terms of plot depth, character development, and pacing, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is, in my opinion, at least as good as Man of Steel and possibly better.
Surprised? Offended? Both? Look, I recognize that taste is subjective, but DC has a long history of producing excellent adult animation. Marvel hasn’t been as fortunate with its tries, an oddity when you consider its relationship to The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS).
Don’t take my word for it. Check out the “adult animation” section at Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX). Look at the ratio of DC films to Marvel films. Then look at the ratings and reviews for 2010’s Batman: Under the Red Hood, a critical success that earned more than $7 million in direct-to-DVD sales and which gets four stars from members. More than 1.32 million Netflixers have watched as of this writing.
Flashpoint, I think, is cut from the same mold and could do just as well. All of which has me wondering why DC isn’t borrowing more of its animated talent to make live-action films. Two years ago, I argued that former animation chief Bruce Timm would be an excellent choice to assume the same role at DC that Joss Whedon holds at Marvel today. I still believe that.
Whether Timm gets the nod or not — right now, it seems unlikely — the important point for us as investors is that DC has significant assets that, if handled as well as Flashpoint was, could become a catalyst for Time Warner Inc (NYSE:TWX) stock.