DC FanDome: Reflections on the 2021 Event

It’s the second year of Warner Bros. and DC’s stellar virtual convention, revealing all the upcoming DC comics, movies, and TV in 2021 and beyond! How well did they do with their reveals and announcements this year?

DC Comics and Warner Bros. dropped a LOT at DC FanDome 2021. Often too much to keep up with. I was following the event all day, and I know I missed one or two things. Even though I loved so many of the announcements, I wish the event had been as well organized as it was last year in August 2020 when it had more structure and streamlining of their announcements. It’s a LOT to take in, and I feel for my fellow writers and social media managers who had to keep up all day and commend us all for keeping up with it.

Overall, I enjoyed the event and felt satisfied with the new trailers and teases we got (THE BATMAN!!! AQUAMAN!!! BATGIRL!!! GOTHAM KNIGHTS!!! BLUE BEETLE!!! YOUNG JUSTICE: PHANTOMS!!! THE FLASH MOVIE!!! BLACK ADAM!!! CATWOMAN: HUNTED!!!), but I couldn’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed with the lack of new announcements. The trailers were the main draw, especially the stunning one for The Batman we got! But was anyone else expecting anything brand new? Like the announcement of a new film or series that hasn’t previously been reported on?

To be clear, I loved the new looks we got at the concept art of Blue Beetle and Batgirl (along with the panels with the actors, writers, and directors, and finally the official confirmation that Xolo Maridueña will be playing Jaime Reyes!).

But I went into FanDome 2021with the expectation that there would be more major announcements from Warner Bros. Studios and HBO Max. That’s typically what you expect with a convention, online or otherwise.

Blue Beetle's HBO Max movie costume, revealed at DC FanDome - Polygon

It appears that DC organizes FanDome in accordance with its films, TV, and comics across the platforms it works with, like HBO Max, the CW, Spotify, Webtoon, Cartoon Network, and Warner Bros. Studios. Much like its rich and varied multiverse, it’s all over the place (in a good way mind you!) compared to its main competition at Marvel/Disney, which seeks to streamline and unify its stories into a singular timeline. The latter always touts its grand master plan, while DC/WB have such a huge variety of stories happening.

The multiverse has almost always worked in DC’s favor! And it’s important they keep that up, as they are for The Flash film that we got a special look at.

The multiverse ultimately allows creators across these platforms to tell the amazing stories they want to tell, especially for some of my favorite series like Doom Patrol, Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow, and Young Justice. They don’t have to worry much about what others are doing, allowing their stories to flourish, at least with the characters each of these networks is allowed to use.

It seems that the top dog, however, remains movie releases in theaters and on HBO Max. That’s typically what gets the most quantitative hype. But FanDome, by showing these projects alongside the various TV, comics, and other platforms may just get these other mediums more of the respect they deserve. I haven’t usually seen announcements for comics and animation get to share the stage on such a large event, and I commend DC and WB for doing so. FanDome shows us just how much there is, and the event did an overall good job at presenting them.

That said, I wish there would be some better coordination at the timing and quality of certain announcements. The most egregious case of this was the drop of the first two episodes of Young Justice: Phantoms right after FanDome ended. We had a poster a few weeks ago, a trailer on the day of FanDome, and that was all the promo for the season. A series as exceptional as Young Justice deserves ample promo in anticipation of the series starting its new season. It may simply be that HBO Max didn’t want to, for whatever reason, give it that ample promotion.

Creator Greg Weisman has stated that they’re planning a fifth season but don’t have the go-ahead yet, and the optics of putting out a season without ample time promotion like this looks disrespectful to him and his team. Again, that may simply have been out of DC’s hands, but I hope that they’re able to convince HBO Max to give it that better treatment in the hopeful-to-be fifth season. A project like Young Justice, with amazing quality and diversity, deserves it. Please DC, if you have leeway, work to get this amazing series, and other animated projects, the ample promotion they deserve.

Even though there was a lot dropped in terms of teasers, trailers, and special looks, it didn’t seem like there were many new announcements. Or many confirmations for that matter. For instance, where was the official announcement of the Black Canary film? We basically know it’s happening, especially as both the star Jurnee Smollett and writer Misha Green have confirmed it, so why not officially announce it? The same goes for the Ta-Nahesi Coates-written and Michael B. Jordan-produced Superman films they have in development, or for the live-action Static film that Jordan is also producing. It may simply be because these projects are still in pre-development without directors attached, and need more time to make their development absolutely certain. Still, I wish we were able to get something on those projects at this stage.

But we DID get the announcement of The Trial of the Amazons coming to the comics!

DC's Trial of the Amazons is Wonder Woman's first crossover event in 30  years - Polygon

This crossover event will feature stories involving Nubia, Yara Flor (Wonder Girl), Diana, and other Amazons, and written by Stephanie Williams, Vita Ayala, Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, Joelle Jones, and Jordie Bellaire! This looks to be a very exciting event, especially coming off of Williams’ and Ayala’s Nubia & the Amazons coming out this week! Seeing Nubia and Yara, who are Black Amazonian and Indigenous Brazilian respectively, stepping even more into the spotlight is amazing to see, and a win for representation in the Wonder Woman/Amazon mythos of DC.

Another comic confirmation was that Milestone Comics — the home of Black DC heroes like Static, Icon, Rocket, and others — was officially back. While some of these heroes have comics coming out now, we got the announcement that they’ll be crossing over with each other, AND we got the news of an animated Milestone film! These characters deserve the best treatment, and it looks like DC is starting to put more value on them.

And another huge comic announcement was that of a 12-issue comic series for DC’s new Chinese American hero, The Monkey Prince, written by Gene Luen Yang and drawn by Bernard Chang! This fantastic character made his debut in DC’s Festival of Heroes issue that came out a few months back and made quite an impression.

Alongside the other comics announcements and what’s been done recently with Aqualad, Static, Wonder Girl, Queen Nubia, Damian Wayne/Robin, and other superheroes of color, the comics are starting to push even more for a more inclusive DC universe. Hopefully, they keep up the effort even more going forward, in comics and other mediums.

Therein lies the key thing about these DC announcements at FanDome: they cover so much across different platforms and media in these various stories that aren’t set in the same universe. They’re more or less independent across the DC Multiverse. And honestly, that’s great! While I do enjoy a lot of the MCU, it’s the projects that stand out the most by themselves, disconnected from, basically, “The Sacred Timeline” that I enjoy most.

I’ve realized over the last few years that we don’t always need projects to be interconnected. An occasional crossover is very cool! But it’s those individual films and TV that stand out the most on their own, like Birds of Prey, The Suicide Squad, Aquaman, Doom Patrol, Young Justice, Batman: The Long Halloween, Legends of Tomorrow, and other stories.

We also got the announcement of a new Batman audio series! Batman: Unburied, exclusively on Spotify, will star Winston Duke as The Dark Knight! Even though I was focusing mostly on film and TV shows earlier, podcast storytelling is increasingly becoming a popular medium, and I can’t wait for more DC heroes to make it to audio form.

The key thing for DC is to focus on allowing individual storytellers to do their craft. Obviously, there have been issues with that regarding the entirety of the production of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which everyone remains highly cognizant of, but I’m hopeful that with other directors and writers, DC and Warner Bros .will take lessons learned of what to do better for the future.

I just hope that they’re able to give more ample promo time for all their quality projects. (Seriously, watch Young Justice if you haven’t yet, it’s one of the best onscreen DC projects ever and deserves all the recognition) DC FanDome 2021 indicated to me that they are, and I have more renewed faith for the future of DC heroes.

In addition to this article, be sure to listen to the most recent Hard NOC Life episode on DC FanDome!