Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Is the DC Universe Streaming Service Worth it?

By Jason McLean of Vagabond Nerds

Let me be very clear about whether or not I think you should be shelling out money for DC’s streaming service: Maybe. Okay, perhaps that does require a bit more exploration… Okay, so the service gives you access to a huge library of DC comics, classic television series and movies (both live action and animated), even some of their new releases. So if you want to scroll through some of the best comics DC has to offer and love the old Justice League episodes, then you’ll absolutely love the DC Universe… But you may not love paying $74.99 for it. Thus DC ups the ante by providing access to exclusive merchandise and online content like creator interviews, behind the scenes material … (oh yeah) and those DC Universe exclusive shows like Young Justice, Titans, Doom Patrol, and Swamp Thing. So the real question here is: in a market where regardless if you are already paying for cable/satellite, you are paying for Netflix, and HULU, and Amazon Prime, and CBS All Access, and Disney+ (which is coming), are the TV shows worth paying for? Let’s go one by one (spoiler free), shall we?

Young Justice: Easily one of the best animated shows ever. Not one of the best DC animated shows, not one of the best comic book inspired shows, but one of the best animated shows ever. The third season does not disappoint in any way whatsoever. If you’ve never seen this show, go watch it immediately.

Titans: Let’s ignore the controversies surrounding Beast Boy not being entirely green and Starfire not having a golden hue (which several cosplayers have pulled off remarkably), or really any complaint you may have heard on YouTube that involves changes made to the character’s portrayal. I mean, let’s face it, live-action DC has a particular viewpoint about what gets put on film and usually it involves ignoring anything that actually happens in the comic books. That being said, Titans is well written, the story is compelling, and (by-in-large) the show does a great job of respecting the characters in their own way. Yeah, that felt like a back-handed-compliment… because it was.

Let me be upfront, I liked most of what this show delivered on. The performances were spot on, the costumes (when they had them) were great, the characters were compelling, and treating Raven’s powers with a horror angle was a brilliant take. It was legitimately scary at times and there was a real sense of danger which can be hard to achieve in the superhero genre. The only problem is that is very clearly an “R” rated show.

As someone who has studied martial arts and taught self-defense, I think this show does an amazing job of showing what vigilante crime-fighting (Batman and Robin style) would actually look like in the real world. If you aren’t killing people then you have to inflict massive, catastrophic damage with your bare hands. It isn’t a pretty sight, and Titans revels in the brutality. However, they also do a great job of exploring the psyches of these vigilantes and the psychological trauma they encounter, which absolutely makes the show very compelling… Just not for children, who shouldn’t see some of the disturbing violence, sexual material, or hear the “R” rated swearing.

Doom Patrol: Okay, I have to be honest about this show, it is brilliant in nearly every way. For the first time, in a very long time, Doom Patrol is a live-action adaptation of a DC comic that actually trusts the source material. It isn’t ashamed by the weirdness and over-the-top satire that Grant Morrison brought to the book, but honors the bizarreness of these characters. Each character is played beautifully and Alan Tudyk as the villain Mr. Nobody is simultaneously one of the most likable characters in the show and one of the most frighteningly intimidating adversaries ever put on film. But for as brilliant, humorous, and well-crafted as it is, it is also an equally hard “R” rating for violence, excessive expletives, and sexual material (I could have gone my entire life without seeing Brendan Fraser’s bare posterior).

Swamp Thing: Isn’t out yet so I won’t comment on it, but given the horror feel the trailers are promoting it’ll probably be very adult as well.

In conclusion, the DC Universe streaming service has a lot to offer DC fans of all ages, but most of the material that DC is putting out as their primary incentive is exclusively for adults. Personally, I liked most of what Titans and Doom Patrol did and love new episodes of Young Justice or re-watching Batman: The Brave and the Bold… I just don’t like them enough to give up Amazon Prime where I get not only my shipping free but can watch Galaxy Express 999, or Babylon 5, or the Naked Archaeologist (I really recommend his show if you’re into Biblical archaeology), or HULU, or any of the other things it is competing with. So, I leave the decision of DC Universe’s value to you, your personal tastes, and your wallet.