In the nineties, Kevin Feige was an assistant to executive producer Lauren Shuler Donner on movies such as Volcano and You've Got Mail, and got to know her husband Richard Donner well.
Two decades later, Kevin Feige is head of Marvel Studios and Geoff Johns is DC President and Chief Creative Officer. And their story could be taking another parallel.
A couple of years ago, it was decided at Disney that Kevin Feige would no longer report to Marvel Chairman Isaac Perlmutter, but to Disney executive, Alan Horn, and all of the Marvel Films slate would be overseen by Disney HQ rather than the rest of Marvel. Perlmutter's purview was restricted to comics, TV, games, merchandise – everything but film. And the comic book side would no longer have input into the movies.
And now it seems something similar is happening at DC. Over the weekend, President of DC Entertainment, Diane Nelson posted on her private Facebook page a message of which Bleeding Cool has received an incomplete copy. It read,
I have lost (In Business)
My best friend;
My reality touchstone;
My partner and positive reinforcement behind hard or controversial ideas;
My resource in learning about the genre I now manage and how its fans think about what we do. The "insider" perspective I may miss;
A buddy who shares the excitement and humility of forging new ground and thinking of new ways to tackle a challenging, maybe softening business. Someone who is confident in his knowledge and instincts but can remain open to hearing another idea.
A confidant, with whom you can share the many ups and downs of our daily work, without wearing the hat of supervisor or supervisee. Someone with whom I can laugh. Someone with whom I can cry when it all feels bigger than it is.
The rest of the message begins "I imagine it's like a much safer version of" but then cuts off. Nelson was talking about Geoff Johns, also DC President and Chief Creative Officer but who reports in to Diane Nelson. Or, at least he did. Her post, which reads in some fashion as mourning someone's passing, suggests otherwise.
Because, like Kevin Feige and Disney, this post seems to indicate that Geoff Johns no longer reports to DC President Diane Nelson, the person who oversees how DC operates in film, TV, games, comics – all media, but directly to Warner Bros, bypassing filters entirely. And while this past eighteen months, he has been hands-on regarding DC Rebirth across the comic book titles, that will no longer be the case. He may still work on comics, but more in the model of Doomsday Clock or Earth One, rather than the whole line.
One criticism of the Feige move at Disney is that while Feige is a keeper of the Marvel comic book faith and knows the brand and characters intimately, whoever will replace him one day, won't be. And is likely to be a Disney suit.
That may also be a similar danger if Geoff Johns moves on – however many decades it may be. But clearly, for Diane, it means a lot more.
DC declined to comment on Nelson's statement directly but told me "Geoff is not moving over to Theatrical, or any other WB division, at this time. He will continue to work across all divisions as he has been, and not exclusively for one division."
Note the phrasing "at this time" and we have noted Geoff's likelihood to continue working in comics to some degree. But change seems to have come. At some point, it is likely that press releases will reflect this.