In case you haven’t heard, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios have reached a joint custody agreement on the issue of films featuring Spider-Man. After many years of speculation, I, for one, was glad to see that Spider-Man was going home to Marvel/Disney, at least creatively. I didn’t think that we would see Sony expand their presence in the superhero film business this soon, but the recent deal between Valiant and DMG Entertainment has paved the way for exactly that.
DMG Entertainment infused Valiant with a nine-figure injection of cash to get their properties up and running on both the large and the small screen, setting their sights not only on the American market, but the Chinese and international markets as well. As a result, the ink is just about dry on a five-picture deal with Sony, and, judging from the talent they’re bringing on board, it sure looks like the studio is taking this seriously. Among the formidable slate of filmmaking pros are the directors of John Wick, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, as well as the producers of the Fast and Furious franchise, Neal H. Moritz and Toby Jaffe.
The two properties getting this royal treatment are Bloodshot, and Harbinger. As well as recruiting talent with proven track records (no to mention that are no strangers to action movies, especially with Furious producers), they also seem to be taking a from the Marvel film book by having the two properties engineered to cross over into a team-up movie. Both Harbinger and Bloodshot will kick off with two solo movies, with the two properties coming together shortly thereafter for Harbinger Wars, presumably based on the 2013 Valiant Comics crossover of the same name.
While most fans are simply stoked by this prospect, as am I, I also think these movies will be a test of whether superhero films without characters from either Marvel or DC can make it in the big box-office market. Sure, there have been other superhero movies outside the mainstream, Kick-Ass comes to mind (though it’s easy to forget that that too was a Marvel property), but there hasn’t yet been anything on this scale. It’s easy to see why Marvel and DC properties can pull in the numbers of moviegoers to make them successful–the characters they are using are not just superheroes, but pop culture icons, whether long-established ones like the Hulk and Captain America, or new-to-the-public characters like Guardians of the Galaxy or even Iron Man. But what of heroes that are not only not well known outside of the comic book community, but also come from a publisher scarcely anyone outside the field has heard of? If this experiment has any shot at success, they are going about it in the right way, by brinigng on talented people with experience in action films, which at their core, are what superhero movies are.
I’ll be watching this closely and keeping my fingers crossed, because they will be competing with a steady barrage of superhero movies. 2017 will also see the debut of new installments in the Thor, Spider-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy series, not to mention Warner’s planned Wonder Woman and Justice League features. That’s a crowded field if ever there was one, and unless they have a great script and a first-rate marketing campaign, this venture might be dead-on-arrival. If they can’t convince moviegoers that their product is just as deserving of their popcorn money as other studios’ established franchises, this ambitious big-budget project might turn into a big-budget flop. The important wild card factor in all of this is DMG Entertainment’s intention to broaden the international appeal of the Valiant movies, especially in the behemoth market that is China. Even if they don’t kill it in the American domestic market, these movies could still be a winner if they capture the Chinese market in the same way Transformers: Age of Extinction did.
I am pulling for them to knock the ball out of the park. As I’ve stated in other articles, the successes of comic book movies are only helping the comic book industry get stronger.