Expanding into digital media is the next great frontier for entertainment franchises of all shapes and sizes.
DC Entertainment is doing that very thing with one of the biggest and best known digital media companies currently on the scene: Machinima. The wildly popular YouTube network of channels got its start as a home for video game vids, but later entered into the original content arena with talk shows and short films, and now sponsors the work of talented indie videographers.
With DC, Machinima will oversee creation of three shows based on DC Comics properties, and each one is very different: There's a cartoon, a live-action series, and a reality show. How's that for diversity?
We already knew about Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles, the online series Machinima has produced with DC based on the upcoming animated movie of the same name (only minus the Chronicles). Announced at the Digital Entertainment Newfronts presentation, Machinima and DC have already greenlit a second season of the show before the first has debuted.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles depicts the ongoing adventures of an alternate Earth where all of the familiar heroes you know appear in different, darker incarnations. This Superman is the son of General Zod, Batman is a vampire bat whose true identity is not Bruce Wayne and Wonder Woman is from warrior nation Ares instead of Themyscira. These powerful "heroes" may be here to save us — or rule us.
Season One launches on Machinima in June. The Justice League: Gods and Monsters animated movie will be out on DVD, Blu-ray and digital in July. Writer Bruce Timm is reportedly writing a new comic book series that tells stories from this world that are set before the film.
Anybody remember Dial H for Hero? The old comic book about a mysterious dial that would impart superpowers on anyone who used it to dial the letters H-E-R-O? The effects only lasted for a short time, but it opened up a whole world of storytelling possibilities not possible in other comics. DC is reviving/updating the concept with a live action series called #4Hero. It's described as a "VFX-heavy action-comedy" about Nellie Tribble, a young woman who finds a smartphone app that turns her into a superhero for a short period of time. In a timely twist, the various powers Nellie wields are based on whatever's currently trending on social media. No word yet on when #4Hero will debut.
Lastly, Machinima, DC and Blue Ribbon Content are partnering for a reality show competition called DC's Hero Project. In it, eight contestants compete for the chance to write and direct a movie based on Starman. The contestants will compete in weekly elimination challenges by creating live-action short films based on various characters from Starman. DC celebrities and creators will serve on the panel of judges.
These three new shows represent an interesting, if unexpected, direction for superhero-based media. We're intrigued to see how they turn out. All three will be available to watch online for free.