Licensing cross-overs maybe not as obvious as they used to be. So, I stumbled across this NSFW gif, the other day, depicting an encounter between Batman & the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. No, I will not share the source, nor go into the background of the discovery (certainly won’t be sharing the gif <raspberry>); but let’s just say it was of Mikey rib-kicking a downed Bat, while the rest worked over Vicki Vale “in another way.” What I took away from it was that the Bat picked the wrong neighborhood to walk Vicki through; but, more importantly, I found myself wondering how such a (SFW) cross-over hadn’t officially happened, AFAIK.
Personally, I figure the material writes itself. Given the similar circles involved, in a joint setting, the Foot Clan & League of Assassins are bound to cross paths/ purposes. Between Shredder’s ambition, and Ra’s al Ghul’s canniness, the meeting could result in either conflict, or co-operation; but the combination of Turtle immaturity, and the Bat being a control freak, would definitely mean a clash of heroes.
For the sake of story discipline, however, I’d downplay the blue-on-blue violence – if only to avoid another exercise in stroking the bat-ego.
Frankly, Spawn/ Batman was probably the only inter-company cross-over that didn’t leave the Bat on top; but Bat-fatigue isn’t my concern, here (and this article does a decent job of tackling that angle). What the question led me to was the realization that the age of Joint Cinematic Universes – and constantly rebooting comic multiverses – may have poisoned the well, where old fashioned licensing cross-over events are concerned.
Back when DC decided to start playing hardball with the competition, collaboration seemed unthinkable – even while they were poaching Marvel talent, and the two houses were juggling characters & concepts (Captain Marvel, Darkseid, Thanos). The rivalry spilled over to licensed adaptations, with Marvel picking up properties like Star Wars, while DC would eventually corner Star Trek. Well, a light must’ve lit up, over at Dark Horse, because the upstart soon anchored itself on adapting pretty much every other hot sci-fi/ horror property of the 80s that was left.
It was around this time that two great houses began to notice the upstarts, and I reckon those first few company cross-overs (Superman/ Spiderman, Batman/ Hulk, X-Men/ Teen Titans) were meant to remind the upstarts that they were way overmatched. If that was the case, it may have backfired. Someone at Dark Horse had a stroke of genius – noting that their two bestselling licensed properties (Alien & Predator) belonged to the same company: 20th Century Fox. Unlike Marvel & DC, who needed to intensely negotiate the particulars of their team-ups, single ownership meant that Dark Horse was free to model the first Joint Cinematic Universe.
Alien vs Predator was not only a great piece of work, it was a phenomenon. It did more than cement Dark Horse’s place, as the official house of movie franchise adaptation (eventually winning Star Wars away from Marvel), it inspired a veritable glut of licensed cross-over ideas. Some were more logical than others (Robocop vs Terminator made perfect sense; Godzilla vs Barkley…. ), but it also escalated inter-company collaboration. There was Superman vs Aliens, and the previously hinted at Batman vs Predator, with the trend ultimately peaking at the Marvel/DC Amalgam project.
Then the comic bubble burst, and it was every house for itself. Unless you count DC cousin, New Line Cinema, acquiring the film rights to Marvel’s Blade, the age of licensed cross-overs had pretty much ended. At least, in comic form.
New Line Cinema had a long-standing reputation for cranking out schlocky horror/ slasher franchises that just went on forever. In an effort to salvage two worn out franchises, Freddy vs Jason came about, and was a hit (shame on you all). I suppose that inspired Fox to do the same; but by then, the target audience had no recollection of the source material comic. That, and the Alien vs Predator films were kinda awful. There is awesome potential for reconciling Fox’s Alien/ Predator joint universe efforts; but I won’t go into that, now.
Right now, I’m thinking that a new level of super competitiveness has left inter-company collaboration looking impossible. Between DC’s Vertigo, Marvel’s Ultimates, the New 52, and Valiant’s re-launch, the comic houses have been too busy getting themselves in order, to reach across the aisle. The quest for in-house joint universes – on both screens – has created a hoarder environment; so, at least on the big screen, we’re more likely to see a consolidation of the Paramount Bayverse (TMNT vs Transformers), than TMNT vs Batman.
While I would consider a collaboration, between Michael Bay & Zack Snyder, to be a bullet in need of dodging, it would have been nice to see an 80s styled meeting of kick-ass reptiles, rodents, and assassins. The fact that it didn’t happen, back when every crazy combo was being forced together, however, seems like a plot hole in my own head.
For what it’s worth, I think it’s a great idea. If this article were a late night talk show, I’d have a house band called The Captains of Enterprise. I’d turn to lead horn, Patrick Stewart – dressed as Picard – and ask him what he thought; and he’d answer back: “make it so.”
… What was I saying? Can’t type – daydreaming….
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