DC comics has been around for a long time, over 80 years in fact and in those 80 years they have created some of the most memorable comic book characters. They are home to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lanterns, Cyborg, and so many more. They also led the comic book world in expanding beyond just comic books, expanding out into radio shows, TV, and the silver screen. DC has done it all and for the most part they have done it well. Recently their biggest competitor Marvel has taken Hollywood by storm by creating creating a connected universe with their films. Sequels have always been a part of Hollywood, but to have several different titles come together and crossover affecting other movies and TV shows hasn’t been done this well ever. Marvel’s plan was to start with individual movies and bring them together in the end with The Avengers. The Avengers is now the 5th all time grossing film, so it’s needless to say it worked out for them.
DC wasn’t doing too bad for themselves either seeing that during this time they were creating the most revered comic book trilogy to date with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. When Christopher Nolan announced he was done making Batman films, DC began laying the groundwork for their own connected universe beginning with 2013’s Man of Steel. The film was an action packed introduction to DC’s man of steel Superman with Henry Cavill as Superman. We saw the fall of Krypton and a young Clark Kent evolve into Superman. The film was highly criticised for the amount of destruction and death that must of come as a result of the battle between Superman and the villain of the film General Zod. Director Zack Snyder knows how to make pretty movies but most fear he is making Superman too dark. That same year they announced that their next film in the connected universe would be Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice. Also directed by Zack Snyder it looked like the dark theme would continue, The movie picked up after the events of Man of Steel and Billionaire Bruce Wayne also known as Batman coming out of retirement to deal with, what he feels is a threat to the Earth in Superman. The movie jumped out of the gate with a worldwide release and picked up $500 million its opening weekend. Unfortunately following bad reviews and low repeat viewings the film never crossed the billion dollar mark causing many changes at Warner Brothers and DC.
DC’s parent company Time Warner recently started making some changes to fix the issues they deem needed to happen. One of the moves that I am a huge fan of is the creation of DC Films. Separating DC from the Warner Bros suits and allowing them to have creative control and no last minute input into the films. One of the biggest accusations of this, was the reshoots of BvS to add more scenes with Batman and Bruce Wayne. The theatrical cut of the film was 2 hours and 44 mins, the majority of it was of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Superman, who’s name is in the title was limited to just 43 lines of dialog in the film. This made Superman come off dark and dower when he is normally bright and full of hope. Batman is a dark character so his scenes being dark are normal, but with his character taking up the majority of the film that makes both films in DC’s new shared movie universe have a dark tone. The next film in the pipeline is Suicide Squad which as seen in the trailers has funny moments but the overall tone continues to be dark and violent. While DC’s competition is known for making light hearted movies, that’s not what I’m saying DC should do. Every movie should have its own feel and with all of the films being dark so far it doesn’t differentiate the film from each other. These characters have their own feel, Superman is known for being full of hope. He even points out in the film that on Krypton the S on his chest stands for “Hope”. Batman is supposed to be dark, Gotham is supposed to be dark, Suicide Squad features mainly Batman villains so it makes sense that is has a dark tone.
Hopefully this tend ends next year with Wonder Woman, I just feel that if they continue this theme then all their films will be prelabeled and that doesn’t work for all characters.
Recently there have been a lot of rumors about possible films coming that feature DC’s characters. DC’s official announcement has movies until 2020, but not included in with these films are these rumored and recently announced movies that are yet to receive release dates. Films like the Ben Affleck’s The Batman makes complete sense seeing that his portrayal of the character in BvS was the most raved about part of the film. Recently Warner and DC announced that actress Margot Robbie recently sold them on an all female film led by her character Harley Quinn. This film is to feature several female characters including Batgirl, the Bird of Prey, among others. Also rumored to be in the works are movies based of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle and also a Lobo film. This is where you start to lose me, while these may seem like great ideas for lifelong DC fans, many like myself who returned to comics with the New 52, don’t see these characters as movie worthy….yet. I feel DC needs a foundation, start with what makes DC,DC. We can’t allow social media or focus groups to dictate what comes next, DC Films needs solid leadership that understands what is needed to build the brand and how to keep it going. Right now it just seems like too many hands in the pot with the main objective being catching up to Marvel. Throwing a bunch of characters together will never make up for 8 years of movies and storytelling. I love comic books and I love comic book movies but if you flood the market with C and D list characters the genre will die. They have already said the next Batman movie will feature a lot of villains, and the Harley Quinn movie will feature a large cast of characters. We have seen this in the past, movies like Spider-man 3 had 3 villains and it didn’t work. We need to remember there is only so much story you can fit into a 2 and a half hours. That’s not enough time to develop new characters and you can’t assume everyone knows these characters, because then the only people watching your movies will be comic fans and you can ask the comic industry how that’s working for them.
Take a deep breath lay out a focused plan and build your universe, adding characters that you can provide a good back story for will work wonders on your image. I want DC to shine because competition creates better entertainment. Hopefully we will start to see some focus next year with Wonder Woman.