The DCEU has had a huge impact on the film industry in 2017. But did the positives outweigh the negatives?
At the start of last year, I wrote an article outlining what to expect from the DCEU in 2017, as well as ways in which the franchise could redeem itself after the critically panned flop of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, or the less than mixed reception of Suicide Squad.
I made calls that assured readers that there was hope for DC, and with Wonder Woman and Justice League being widely anticipated that year, I even made a comment saying that “the DCEU was surely to be on par with the MCU. If not, better”.
Looking back, I see nothing but disappointment and a false sense of hope.
Now don’t get me wrong, DC had some huge achievements last year. Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, proved to not only be a huge hit, but also a step in the right direction towards more solo female superheroes on the big screen.
Justice League was…well, it was fine. It was immensely flawed, but considering the mess that was happening behind the scenes (including Zack Snyder handing off the role to Joss Whedon midway), it’s fair to say that they were trying to learn from their mistakes from Batman V Superman.
Thing is, Justice League was more than just a flop. Not only was it critically panned, it also flopped in the box office, receiving not only the lowest revenue of the DCEU films, but also being beaten out by Jumanji last year (not that I have anything against Jumanji, it just surprises me that an iconic superhero franchise lost out to a new video-game style comedy).
It still astounds me that the first ever adaption of the iconic Justice League, the first time these beloved characters were put together on the big screen, was such a disappointment.
And Warner Bros, or more specifically, DC are trying to learn from their past mistakes. They’re just learning the wrong lessons.
Justice League, among many other flaws, suffered from an inconsistent and varied tone. I understand it would have been difficult to merge Zack Snyder’s visions with Joss Whedon (especially considering how different their style is), but ham-fisting in awkward dialogue or weird humour is yet again taking things to an extreme. When they received backlash for making BvS too dark, they decide to throw in a red hue in the third arc to make Justice League look more colourful.
See, when I think about Marvel, they have a unique, and very specific style. Through the various directors and various genres, the aesthetic, humour and action sequences are predominantly very similar. Yes, they’ve been developing this style for nearly a decade now, but it is something they have emphasised to keep consistent.
On the other hand, DC is jumping around different styles or different aesthetics, be it the brooding and dark Batman V Superman, the light and awkwardly comedic humour in Justice League, or even the heroic and somewhat glorious Wonder Woman. I can’t focus on this supposed DCEU franchise when all their movies are so bizarrely different from one another.
And before people call me out for being biased favouring Marvel, I want to emphasise that I really do love both franchises. If anything, I grew up with DC characters more so than Marvel because that’s how popular these characters are.
Warner Brother’s has gradually become more and more transparent, and their mess behind the scenes is becoming more and more obvious. The constant reshuffling of their board, the changing of writers and directors. The backlash has put Warner Brothers in a frenzy.
Some time last year, there was talk about a solo Joker film being produced by Martin Scorsese, only this film wouldn’t be connected to the wider DCEU. This is a solo, one-off film that won’t be set in the already established universe. To add fuel to the fire, it seems like every other week there’s a new rumour about whether Matt Reeve’s solo Batman film is in or out of the DCEU. In fact, there’s doubts about whether Affleck himself will even be playing the role.
That’s not even the only thing that has happened. What about who’s going to direct the Flashpoint movie? And not to mention the proposed $250 million Michael Bay Lobo movie, or the supposed Gotham City Sirens or Batgirl movie currently “in the works”.
I said in the previous article that DC has had a lot of missteps, but like all of us, it’s never too late to change things up and improve. And I still hold the same belief to this day, despite everything that has happened last year (guess I never learn…).
I’m still very optimistic. With James Wan’s Aquaman set to debut this year, I’m very eager to see what esteemed Melbourne-grown director Wan can bring to the table. In addition, David F. Sandberg, another one of my favourite directors, seems to be making stable progress with his Shazam film.
Seeing what both directors have achieved in both the Conjuring franchise and other blockbuster mainstream films, I am graced with a sense of new hope.
Hopefully we don’t get another case of studio interference or choppy editing.
Regardless, Warner Brothers surely still have a lot of ways to fix this universe. Like I said last year, worst comes to worst, just begin recasting everyone after the Flashpoint movie. If Affleck doesn’t want to commit to the role, just look for someone else. With the likes of actors like Jake Gyllenhaal being in the run, I’m sure they’ll be able to find another actor that’s not only able to hold the mantle, but also actually enjoys playing the part.
Yet again, I come back to the same, ignorant optimistic standpoint that there is still lots of time and opportunities to save the DCEU. It’s never too late to change things up (albeit actors, directors, writers, etc.) and it’s almost certainly never too late to bounce back.