Food for Thought: Is the DC Cinematic Universe F*cked?
In this editorial series, we take a popular story in the world of movie news and really analyze it. We'll break it down, and talk in depth about the pros and cons of the story. Now, these topics will be more than a casting choice or something we can easily write an article about otherwise; these will feature more grey topics and highly opinionated discussions. It requires more explanation and analysis. So, without further ado, let's get started!
In this installment, we will talk about how whether or not the DC Cinematic Universe is f*cked.
Last week, we learned the fateful news that Ben Affleck will not be directing The Batman (you can read more about that here). Before then, we heard that The Flash (which has gone through three sets of directors) is getting a page one re-write. We've heard flip-flopping stories on how Shazam and Black Adam will be used in the universe. There's talk that Ryan Reynolds is being considered to return as Green Lantern. We also have Gotham City Sirens, which is a completely unnecessary film. What the f*ck is going on with DC? It just seems like they're scrambling to try to piece together a semblance of a cinematic universe. And everything seems to just be going to sh*t. The one stable thing we could hold onto, the light at the end of the tunnel, was that Ben Affleck was directing The Batman, and that had so much promise. But now that's gone. So, with so much upset and turmoil surrounding the DC sh*tshow, we have to ask the question... is the DC Cinematic Universe officially f*cked? Is this the end?
Why Ben Affleck's Departure Matters
When DC got Ben Affleck to play Batman in their cinematic universe, you know they didn't want him just to act. They wanted him to direct a film, which we all assumed would be the Batman solo film. Sure enough, Affleck was confirmed to be writing and directing The Batman, which he's also starring in. This isn't something new to him; Affleck has done the trifecta three times before, and one of those films ended up winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards (Argo). In the past, Affleck has said that he will direct The Batman if he likes the script. Now he's not directing. See the connection? Now, it's not that simple, because Affleck himself was writing the script. This leads us to believe that the studio wanted to take the film in a direction Affleck didn't like. And when push came to shove, Affleck stepped down as the director. This isn't the first time Warner Bros. has interfered with DC movies, worsening the project. Both Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad suffered from studio interference, with Suicide Squad being a direct result of the studio wanting to adjust the film after the criticism of Batman v. Superman. When people said Batman v. Superman was too dark, they crammed in all the songs to Suicide Squad to trying to make it "fun", and it didn't work out very well for them.
So Warner Bros. has been known to interfere with DC movies before, and not the good kind of interference. So Affleck's departure shows that DC has not learned their lesson yet. Let the filmmakers make good movies. You have someone as talented and as experienced as Ben Affleck: let him make the f*cking movie! DC can say they're learning from their mistakes, but Affleck's departure shows that they clearly haven't. Affleck was the saving grace, creatively, of the DC Cinematic Universe, and now they drove him away. This shows that DC doesn't have a plan. They don't know what they're doing. They have too many people calling the shots, taking things in all these different directions. There's no concrete, singular voice guiding the ship. And Affleck leaving shows that things have not gotten any better. So what does this mean for Wonder Woman or Justice League. Could they have been affected too, but more discreetly behind the scenes? Are any DC movies safe?
Wonder Woman and Justice League
I still have hope for Wonder Woman and Justice League. Wonder Woman more so than Justice League, but hope nonetheless. A lot rides on these two films. If they can both knock it out of the park, then DC is back in the game. All this sh*t with The Batman and The Flash won't matter. They'll be back. If they suck... then DC is done. They just are. I'm sure we'll still get Aquaman, but that's it. It'll be over for them. Wonder Woman has the greater chance to succeed. First of all, it's set during World War I, so it's more removed from the rest of the universe. It also has Patty Jenkins directing, who is a fantastic director. We have heard barely any controversy surrounding this film, so it sounds like Warner Bros. has just let the filmmakers do what they do best... make the film. But it's hard to be excited over the trailers, because the trailers for Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad were equally as awesome. I've talked about this before, when asking if the Wonder Woman trailers are fooling us. You can read that article here.
Justice League has a greater probability of being bad, because it's the same sh*t that didn't work before. For me, Zack Snyder is 1 and 1. He did a fantastic job with Man of Steel, and a not so fantastic job with Batman v. Superman. I've liked some of his other work, such as 300 and Watchmen, but I think he needs to take a break from DC. That's why the fact he's directing Justice League scares me. But, if you recall the set visit from back in June (refresh your mind on the details here), it seems like they've really righted the ship. But then again, we have been fooled before. At this point, I think Wonder Woman has a 70% chance of being awesome, while Justice League has a 50% chance. I'm looking forward to both, and will definitely go see them. If they're awesome, DC is back in the game. But if they both suck, then I really think it's over. Like I said, we'll get Aquaman, but they'll be done after that. If both of those films suck, they'll have had five films in a row that were divisive, and not nearly making the numbers at the box office they wanted. If Wonder Woman and Justice League blow, then DC is going to pull the plug.
So is DC F*cked?
Is DC f*cked? Not quite yet. Even though Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad didn't win everyone over, they were still box office successes. Worldwide, Man of Steel made $668 million, Batman v. Superman made $873 million, and Suicide Squad made $745 million. Those are still highly profitable movies. Sure, they wanted Batman v. Superman to be a billion dollar movie, and it probably would've been had it been better. But there was no way they could have expected Suicide Squad to be as successful as it was. This shows that people are interested in DC films... DC just has to make them good. I wrote an editorial back after Suicide Squad came out about how to fix the DC Cinematic Universe, and it still rings true. You can read it here. DC is not f*cked yet, but it's not heading in the right direction either. You can't have The Flash having page one re-writes here and there, with three sets of directors in and out. You can't have your crown jewel Ben Affleck driven away. You can announce films, then change your minds, and then change it again. DC needs to first focus on making good films, and then lay out a plan.
DC, sit down with a great group of writers and executives and figure your sh*t out. Lock down writers and directors. Make an overarching plan to connect your universe. Figure everything out, and then announce your ten year plan. Once you have everything cemented, and a few good films in your back pocket, then you can talk about Green Lantern Corp., Cyborg, Black Adam, Gotham City Sirens, Shazam, and all the other projects you want to do. If you stop being so reactionary and acting so haphazardly, and just figure your sh*t out, you will have a successful cinematic universe. Stop rushing everything to play catch up to Marvel. Stop churning out sh*t in order to make a quick buck. If you're patient, and you take your time, you will make quality products that will earn money in the long run. Marvel didn't make the $1.5 billion dollar movie right out of the gate. It took them five films before they had that big the payday with The Avengers. You can't make Batman v. Superman your second film and expect to make the same amount without laying the ground work. DC, if you bide your time, slowly build your universe, and focus more on making good films rather than a billion dollars at the box office, I promise you that you will earn multitudes of money in the long run.
What do you think? Is there hope for the DC Cinematic Universe? How can they fix the universe? Do you have hope for Wonder Woman and Justice League? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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