Warner Bros. has got them a BIG problem with DC on film.
Here recently, DC movies have drastically underperformed — SHAZAM! FURRY OF THE GODS, BLACK ADAM — or downright flopped — THE FLASH.
Not good…except when it comes to Batman, of course.
For the sake of this article, I’m not going to dwell on Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN and THE BATMAN SAGA (which of course includes THE PENGUIN on MAX, THE BATMAN: PART II, and future sequels and MAX spinoffs) because Batman is Teflon — well, as long as he’s done right (I’m talking to you Batfleck in BvS). And hell, let’s include Todd Phillips’ JOKER films as well. Does anyone think that JOKER: FOILE a DEUX isn’t going to do exceedingly well?
What I will say about ’em is that they should be the damn blueprint for how Warner Bros. and DC Studios should proceed going forward when it comes to making live-action, big screen, DC movies. You know, hire a filmmaker with a vision and a passion for the character and let ’em do their thing. AND…
To hell with the whole shared universe thing.
The James Gunn/Peter Safran/DC Stuios-led new DCU is essentially Warner’s third attempt at a shared universe within the last decade. We had the DCEU/Snyderverse which failed right out of the gate with BATMAN v SUPERMAN; then there was the “reset” of the DCEU under Walter Hamada which was ended basically before it began once Discovery acquired Warner Bros.; and now we have the aforementioned “New DCU” which is supposed to commence in 2025 with James Gunn writing and directing SUPERMAN: LEGACY.
Other than just wanting their version of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), what makes Warner Bros. think it’ll be successful? Hope? Wishful thinking? Third time’s the charm?
Other than a few outliers (WONDER WOMAN, AQUAMAN) and Batman (THE BATMAN, JOKER), when is the last time Warner Bros. had a DC film that was an all-around success? You know, reviewed well, the general audience and fans liked it, and it did well at the box office?
Other than Batman, the DC brand is tarnished…dead. Overall, people simply don’t care. They associate anything with the DC brand (again, other than Batman) to be bad like the stuff they’ve seen Warner Bros. churn out over the last decade. The failure of THE FLASH — which is a good, fun movie — is the end of the F’n road. DC on film (other than Batman) is stuck in a car out in the blistering hot desert, out of gas, and with no gas stations within 250 miles.
For all the great success that Disney has had with the MCU, even it is starting to feel its mortality. I mean, the MCU is in the second half of its second decade — fatigue was inevitable. The shared universe thing that they mastered with great success is tired. And Warner Bros. wants to give it another go? After years of so much mediocrity and failure to the point that is infinitely insignificant? Give me a f***ing break!
This new DCU is supposed to commence just two years from now in 2025 with SUPERMAN: LEGACY. DC Studio’s co-boss James Gunn is writing and directing it and it will as a springboard to the first slate of the new DCU shared universe called “Gods and Monsters.” Gunn has said that there will be an overarching story woven into all of these projects on film, TV, and even video games. BUT…
What if SUPERMAN: LEGACY performs no better than SUPERMAN RETURNS or even MAN OF STEEL? What makes Warner Bros. or anyone else for that matter believe that a third try at Superman on the big screen in the last 20 years will do any better than the previous failed endeavors? Hope? Wishful thinking? Third time’s the charm?
Here’s a novel idea…how about WB/DC Studios just focus on making good DC films under the helm of a strong, quality filmmaker without the restraints and issues that come with a shared cinematic universe? I don’t know, like Christopher Nolan did with THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY and what Todd Phillips and Matt Reeves have currently going on with the JOKER films and THE BATMAN SAGA, respectively. Why try something (a shared cinematic universe) — AGAIN — that’s now tiring and which someone else (Disney/Marvel Films) has already done (and frankly better)?
Certainly, James Gunn is a quality filmmaker and he has a strong passion for DC, comic books, and Superman. If I were in charge at DC Studios, I’d scrap the plan for a shared cinematic universe and make the best SUPERMAN movie humanly possible in SUPERMAN: LEGACY. No cameos with other DC characters, no mention of a greater DCU, and no damn post-credits scenes that not so subtly say, “LOOK AT WHAT’S COMING NEXT IN OUR SHARED UNIVERSE! WE’RE A SHARED UNIVERSE, EVERYBODY!”
The same thing goes for all the other films, TV shows, and video games that are part of “Gods and Monsters.”
And how in the hell does anything think it’s a good idea to have another live-action Batman show up — along with the Batman Family — in this BRAVE AND THE BOLD movie when you got Matt Reeves, Robert Pattinson, Colin Farrell, and others doing their thing in THE BATMAN SAGA?! THE BATMAN was a big success and you’ve got both fans and the general audience invested in this story. And you want to dilute the Batman brand just because this shared universe new DCU has got to have a Batman in it? Just wait ’til Reeves is totally done and then make this THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD film.
I don’t get it.
With all that said, I know my plea to WB/DC Studios to ditch the shared universe thing and focus on making damn good DC movies is futile. They are hellbent on having their version of the MCU come hell or high water…even if it takes DC on film down for good.
Again, let me get this straight…
WB has had years of disappointment, underperformance, and failure with a shared DC universe, the latest DC film is an utter, embarrassing flop, and their plan is to triple down and give it yet another go?
Bless their hearts. – Bill “Jett” Ramey