Beyond Thunderdome

So, I did DC FanDome.

In a year of COVID, everyone has been taking the idea of a convention and turning it into a series of Zoom meetings and YouTube videos, so I guess no-one should have been that surprised when WarnerMedia announced FanDome in the first place; it felt like the ultimate culmination of that idea crashing into Warners’ corporate desire to make DC into a lifestyle brand — something that’s been a quiet ambition since the company named dropped any modifiers and became, simply, “DC.”

(I could be wrong, but I think the official name went from DC Comics to DC Entertainment in 2009, and then quietly became just DC just under a decade later; there was certainly no big fanfare about the dropping of “Entertainment,” I just remember DC execs quietly telling me to stop calling it DC Entertainment in THR stories.)

DC FanDome felt overwhelming and overkill on first blush, I’ll be honest: a 24 hour livestream based entirely on DC properties? Is that what anyone really wants? But then I remembered that I spent four days last year at a real life convention based around Star Wars, and that’s just one series of movies. FanDome, in that context, suddenly felt like a model of restraint — only 24 hours? And for free? I could even watch from the comfort of my home, and not have to go to Chicago!

With rumors of new footage for the big DC movies of the next year or so, it was obvious that I’d have to cover the show for work, and that’s exactly what happened; I was one of a team of three at THR watching the eight hour block of programming this past Saturday — in many respects, the original plans for FanDome were scaled back before it happened, with a second event announced for the following month less than a week before it took place to host more than half the originally announced content; I’d love to know what happened behind the scenes — and, reader, it was exhausting.

Perhaps it’s because it really was a nonstop eight hour block of programming with little downtime to allow us the chance to write up stories. Maybe it’s because “panels” lasted anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes instead of physical show’s more common 45-60 minute runtime, making everything so frenetic. Or, simply, I could have just been exhausted by working on a Saturday after a long and stressful work week as-was.

All I know is, I was aware that, objectively, DC FanDome was entertaining, slickly produced, fast-paced and, honestly, kind of fun. But, personally, covering it felt like an endurance race that I was not prepared for. I’m, by this point, familiar with attending comic cons where friends say things like, “Oh, that sounds fun!” and I respond with, “No, it was work.” This one, though, despite only being eight hours, and despite seeing me at home the entire time, felt like work.

I did DC FanDome, and I’m really glad that it went well for everyone involved and all the fans that dug it; I think it’ll be a model for future events of this nature, even after COVID, whenever that may be. But I’m also very, very glad that it’s over and I can relax for a bit.

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