So here we are 5 years into what we thought would be DC's answer to the MCU.
I have ranked all the DC movies (that I've seen up until Justice League... which I didn't like) on this site if you want to get a bassline for how I feel about DC's output so far. As far as the run that started with I was surprised that I liked Man of Steel at all since I'm just not a Superman fan. So it's safe to say I was cool with a new universe built around Superman.
But, since MoS, Marvel's distinguished competition seems to be scrambling to find their groove. This, if we have to put a label on it, is my attempt to figure out if there is more positive than negative for DC films going forward.
MCU has sold me on a connected cinematic universe where ever movie is building towards something. That's not to say that you have to do it exactly the way the MCU did it, even though it seemed to work, but it looks like DC is admitting whatever they were doing before clearly wasn't working.
The trouble started when I heard Zack Snyder announce Batman would be introduced in Man of Steel 2 and he heavily implied that the movie would basically be The Dark Knight Returns.
That's right. Before the casting choices that people didn't like or even the reveal of the overstuffed name. I knew we were going to get a movie people didn't like and would feel overstuffed. Going from the first Superman story directly into what should be one of the last Batman and Superman stories felt rushed and like a hole I wouldn't ever want to dig for myself. But, here are some more thoughts about Bvs on Spoiled Rotten Podcast & LDF Podcast in case you needed a more long winded response to this movie.
Why couldn't we flesh out Superman a bit more before getting to a team up? Iron Man is arguably the nucleus of the MCU and we got 2 movies from him before any kind of major team up. Seems like they should have done the same with Superman, not because Marvel did it, but because this movie really relied on people feeling a big gut punch when Superman died.
Surely that would have counted for more if we'd spent more time with Superman. Or was DC and Warner Bros. just banking on the fact that everyone knows Superman and that there was no need for the audience to invest in these interpretations of these characters?
The characters have been around so long, there's no need to build them up right? Then came Suicide Squad which seemed like it was all build up, PLUS, it had a great representation of Batman... and you know what, I had fun because I never expected Joker to be a main villain so I didn't have to deal with that disappointment like most others.
However, the hamfisted reasoning that Viola Davis' Amanda Waller needed the Suicide Squad to fight anyone on the level of Superman didn't help this movie get the respect it probably wanted and definitely felt like they needed to tie things to Superman even when the Batman connection was enough.
Thank goodness for Wonder Woman right? It's not perfect but it's the best the DCEU has birthed thus far. Which brings us to the name of this universe. How goofy is it that they came out with that statement saying "hey we're not the DCEU" They let that rock for like a year. The fact that they can't even that element of branding down is cause for alarm.
In addition to not being able to settle on a name for this universe, it seems like they have a problem retaining talent. Today's director for whatever the Flash movie turns out to be may not be tomorrow's and we all are waiting to see what happens with Ben Affleck's batman. Ben and I tried to give some advice to WB and DC but I doubt they paid attention.
I'm obviously most upset about everything that relates to Batman in this universe. The fact that Batman has Matt Reeves as its director doesn't really get me excited. I'm like the only person that doesn't like Matt's Apes movies. I'm also not excited about Ben Affleck's visible lack of interest in the role.
It wasn't just public appearances. Justice Leauge was like a Ben's S.O.S. signal out to the world begging to get out of his current situation. I wasn't very excited about a Nightwing movie before we even got to see Dick Grayson, a top three comic book character, train with Bruce. So I'm glad that talk has died down for now.
Still in the Batman universe is a Birds of Prey movie that seems to be fast tracked with newcomer, Cathy Yan, directing.
I guess this is a good way to introduce Batgirl the same way Black Panther was introduced in Civil War. And Batgirl isn't as connected to Batman as Nightwing since she starts crimefighting because she's inspired by Batman not because she's trained by him. It does seem weird to tie Harley Quinn into that since she's been introduced as more of an Anti-Hero which Gotham Sirens would have continued. Harley seems like she'd have to be a straight up villain in this setting. But, hey! I'm just some angry guy behind a keyboard, I can't get paid to make head scratching moves like this yet. What do I know?
It seems like there's a lot to be sad about, but there is some good news when it comes to the DC cinematic universe. Instead of trying to play catch up after making that weird decision to start Batman off in the twighlight of his career and making Nightwing films. Ava DuVernay isn't doing Green Lantern Corps. like I suggested but she is getting a New Gods movie.
The fact that I don't really know New Gods means I don't have to build something up in my head, and DC could get a Guardians of the Galaxy type hit. Guardians are so far removed from what goes on in the day to day of Marvel that they have their own timeline and only really need to link up for Infinity War. The same could happen for DC. They could buy some time and good will with Ava's New Gods movies.
If that's not enough for you, even Mr. Comic Book Movies will go the way of the Western, Steven Spielberg, is involved in a Blackhawk movie possibly in the same way Martin Scorsese is doing a Joker movie. Now that James Cameron has looked down his nose at comic book movies too, maybe he'll join DC too. I guess my point is that serious talent is joining the DC team.
Add to that the fact that Aquaman, Shazam, and Wonder Woman 2 will definitely happen and don't seem to be running into the same problems Zack Snyder, David Ayer, Rick Famuyiwa, Seth Grahame-Smith et al. ran into and there is still reason to be excited about future films from DC and Warner Bros.
If only they could nail down a few things. Like do they still want to be tied to the continuity they've established? Do they want to keep playing around with Ben Affleck? And what are we supposed to call this thing that seems to be happening ad hoc?
Just take your time, Warner Bros. There's no need to make announcements about things you're thinking about maybe getting started on. There's certainly no reason to keep trying to connect these movies if that's not your strong suit. And please just trust the vision of the people you hire so they can see it through and the fans don't get Frankenstein's monsters of movies like Suicide Squad and Justice League. That's what interviews are for... to decide if you can work with someone or not. If all of that can be accomplished, I feel like DC will be in a good spot, but we'll have to wait and see.