What an embarrassing failure. After hundreds of millions of dollars and years of hype, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been banished to the halls of Hollywood mediocrity.
This is not what Warner Bros. wanted.
I have to admit, before sitting down to watch Dawn of Justice, I was excited. And I should have been. I like Batman; he is an intriguing and exciting character. The Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy is arguably my favourite trilogy to date, and The Dark Knight is one of my favourite movies. Wonder Woman is similarly exciting. Having a badass female superhero is a novelty but one that could be executed spectacularly. Superman… meh. But still! This is Batman v Superman! This is a 250 million dollar budget! This is the first Warner Bros. blockbuster since 2013! How could it possibly be messed up?
One and half hours into tenuous, forced storylines, average directing and Jesse Eisenberg’s joke(r) of a Lex Luther performance, I had my answer. Oh, I think to myself. That’s how.
Yes, unfortunately we have to accept that the long-awaited on-screen meeting of Batman and Superman has, so far, been a missed opportunity. And with the film they so greatly depended on being widely labeled as a failure, the question has to be asked: What now for Warner Bros., DC Comics and the future of the Justice League franchise?
The film’s opening weekend was more than promising.
Grossing 166 million dollars, Dawn of Justice soared to become Warner Bros second most successful opening weekend ever, trailing only to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Yet the party pretty much stops there. As the toxic word of mouth spread, profits starting slowing, with the film suffering a whopping 69% decrease from the opening weekend. This has given Batman v Superman its second record-breaker. It is now in the top 10 largest drop offs ever, even coming in at number one for the biggest superhero movie drop off of all time. Congratulations!
It has been said that in order for this film to be deemed a success, it needs to gross over one billion dollars. Current estimations predict it will most likely generate somewhere between 800 and 900 million dollars. Now, yes, this is a horribly large amount of money. But you’re still left asking: how will this film not make more? Roughly five years ago, both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises made over one billion dollars at the box office. Add Superman and Wonder Woman to this mix and Dawn of Justice should be a guaranteed success. But it isn’t and it won’t be.
How is it possible that Deadpool, a Marvel film about a comparatively unknown superhero, will beat Batman v Superman in the box office?
Sure, Deadpool is a favorite for many comic book readers, but most viewers weren’t existing fans, rather average people who simply heard Deadpool was a good movie. DC will be more than just worried. The rumour that Warner Bros. plans on releasing an R-rated Dawn of Justice director’s cut to cinema says a lot.
It is clear Warner Bros. are trying to mirror Marvel’s approach, creating Aquaman and Flash franchises in the same way Marvel have created Iron Man and Captain America. The Hollywood studio had 10 films planned off the back of Batman v Superman. This was the film that was going revitalise Warner Bros. and DC Comics simultaneously. It was intended to open up a new galaxy of possibilities, stemming from the Batman and Superman franchise. This failure thus puts a massive dent in future aspirations. The poor reviews won’t just end at Dawn of Justice, they will spill over and tarnish future movies.
The film does have some positives. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was fantastic.
The 2017 release of Wonder Woman is an exciting prospect, and an opportunity to deliver a good and successful film.
Similarly, Ben Affleck performed the dark mystery and distress of Batman really well. It has just been announced that Affleck will star in and direct the next Batman, which he scripted. In a smart move, it looks like the Batfleck couple is getting married.
This brings me to the question of directing. Zack Snyder has given very little reason as to why Warner Bros. should continue privileging him as the director who will save the struggling franchise.
I personally found it very strange Snyder was selected to direct Dawn of Justice, given the infamous failure of Man of Steel. His directorial choices in Batman v Superman are poor. Often the shot selection seems rushed and weak, and the entire story feels shrouded in cliché. A lot is riding on the 2017 Justice League Part One that Snyder is employed to direct.
Is he really the right man for the job?
As Marvel continues to tighten its grip on the superhero movie industry, it seems Warner Bros. and DC’s futures promise further failures. Where is Superman when they need him?