SAN DIEGO – People watch superhero movies and TV shows on apps. Same with people who read superhero comic books.
But DC Comics will be the first to give a trove of content to fans with a single digital subscription service that combines a comics publisher's multimedia offerings – and superpowered favorites.
Launching this fall, DC Universe will be a one-stop shop for everything involving Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and their superfriends, but it’s also a game-changer in a current pop-culture landscape ruled by comic-book heroes. (Disney is developing its own streaming service, though it remains to be seen if it will pair its Marvel and "Star Wars" comics with their successful movie franchises.)
Fans can watch Lynda Carter’s classic "Wonder Woman" TV show and, a couple of finger swipes later, see her character's first appearance in comics or shop for a new T-shirt.
“We want people to think of DC as one of those apps – on their phone, on their set-top box or on their tablet – that they turn to every day, (and) it becomes part of the fabric of their life,” says Craig Hunegs, president of Warner Bros. Digital Networks.
USA TODAY got a hands-on look at the DC Universe app – which will be available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Android TV – at Comic-Con on Wednesday.
Five reasons why it’s going to blow fan’s minds:
You don’t have to be a comic nerd to get into it.
The ambitious slate includes the first of six planned original series exclusive to DC Universe, including "Titans," a live-action take on the classic Teen Titans lineup including Batman's sidekick Robin, Starfire, Raven and Beast Boy. Then there's legacy material such as the original Christoper Reeve "Superman" movies, TV shows such as "Lois & Clark" and "Batman: The Animated Series," plus thousands of comics curated to complement the stuff you're watching. It’s a little overwhelming, but right from the home screen, DC Universe has your back. It shows you what you’ve binged, recommends what you should try out, topic areas (such as what Joker stuff you might be interested in) and a character profile section to find out more about your new favorite hero or villain.
It makes comics an accessible, communal experience.
Let’s say you're a comics nerd who’d like to get a loved one or a friend into your hobby. The books are rendered in 4K resolution, old comics have been remastered, and you can stream shows on your large HD TV to show them off to a bigger crowd. Autoplay features allow you to set the time between panel changes, and the curated collections will be refreshed frequently. “It’s a way for us to look at our library and reposition it and basically reinvent it for people who might not necessarily read some of these books,” says Jim Lee, DC Entertainment publisher and chief creative officer.
The new original TV shows are going to be a major draw.
By the looks of the trailer above (which has some saucy language, so be warned), “Titans” is going to be a brutal, more hard-hitting affair than CW’s “Arrow” and “The Flash.” The goal is to have a different tone for each project: Three more live-action shows are in development, including the “Titans” spinoff “Doom Patrol” (featuring more eclectic, quirky heroes) and the horror-tinged "Swamp Thing" (produced by “Aquaman” director James Wan), plus the adult animated comedy "Harley Quinn" and family-friendly cartoon "Young Justice: Outsiders." Says Hunegs: “We’re trying to find that sweet spot where we’ve got characters who aren’t quite mainstream enough for broadcast television but are known enough to be compelling for DC fans.”
DC's committed to creating a safe community for fans.
Debating if Batman or Superman is better, or which Flash is the fastest, is just part of the DNA of comics fans – and there'll be a community aspect to DC Universe that's being built like an old-school online forum. But with the way fandom’s been going recently in terms of online vitriol, DC will be moderating comments and looking out for their users. “Creating a greater community that would be safe and inclusive … is really, really appealing and kind of needed in today’s day and age,” Lee says.
It's cheaper than your average Netflix subscription.
Fans can preorder DC Universe now for $74.99 a year (and get three months free). Memberships will be $7.99 a month at launch. It might not have as much film and TV content as other streaming services in a similar price range, but then again, Hulu and Netflix don’t have comic books.