The New DCU Can Learn From the DCEU’s Mistakes


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If you’re a DC fan, you’re probably worried (and rightfully so).

After months of hype, including right from the mouth of new DC on Film chief James Gunn, THE FLASH stumbled head over tea kettle at the box office. DC movies (outside of Matt Reeves’  BatVerse And Todd Phillips’ JOKER: FOLIE A DEUX) are on gelatinous ground at best.

Fans of these beloved characters are left wondering if Warner Bros. Discovery will ever get things right. Time will tell with this new DCU but the pressure on Gunn’s SUPERMAN LEGACY to perform is as daunting as Doomsday was to Superman in the comics.

How did it get to this point? The studio can cite all kinds of outside factors but it really has no one to blame but itself, although the current regime wasn’t in charge.

The spark that lit the dumpster fire DC movies currently finds themselves in happened at San Diego ComicCon in 2013, a full decade ago. That’s when it was announced that Zack Snyder would be following up MAN OF STEEL (which had mixed audience reaction) with a sequel featuring Batman.

The crowds loved it at the time. Then the film came out in 2016

The mixed-to-poor general audience reception to BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE quickly extinguished that excitement and BvS remains a very divisive film to this day.

Hindsight is 20/20 but it’s clear now that WB saw what the MCU did and that they accelerated the making of their own universe to try and catch up and it blew up in their face.

It’s like Ian Malcolm said in Jurassic Park: “They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

The fallout at the studio from BvS continues to be felt. The hiring of Gunn and James Safran to completely reboot is the studio’s second attempt to save their DC film branding (outside of Batman and the Joker films) since BvS was released and that was only seven years ago.

They first tried by hiring Walter Hamada to oversee DC films and he really had the plan. Just make good films, if they connect that’s fine but they don’t have to.  Then WB merged with Discovery and, like in all big business deals, things changed.

So here we go again with a shared universe. Hamada is out and Gunn and Safran are in. Films already finished like THE FLASH and AQUAMAN 2 were basically left to dry as lame-duck movies as plans for the new DCU were announced and BATGIRL was outright canceled after it was shot.

So just like the “DCEU,” Gunn and Safran’s shared universe will start with a Superman movie. The pressure on that film will be immense. Gunn has said all the right things, but audiences as always will have the final vote with their wallets.

If that film bombs, God help us all.  If it succeeds, great. The studio might have finally weathered the storm.

But what if it’s a MAN OF STEEL situation again and it’s a mixed reaction?

My advice to Gunn and Safran, in that case, would be: stay the course. Tweak, keep going, but don’t make the BvS and JUSTICE LEAGUE mistake and panic. Build your universe in steps as it looks like you’re doing. There’s already a DCU Batman film in development (THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD). No need to shoehorn the character into other films, especially since Reeves’ third (and final?) film in THE BATMAN SAGA will likely be in development at that point.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And if we’re still in this spot in the 2030s, it will be the decision to make another shared universe that the studio will rue.

Here’s hoping for the best.