With the arrival of AVENGERS: ENDGAME in theaters this weekend, Marvel Films’ decade-plus shared cinematic universe story comprising of over 20 movies — THE INFINITY SAGA — has come to an end.
Other than THE INCREDIBLE HULK (which I quite like and is one of my personal favorite MCU movies), all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films did very well at the box office — to varying degrees, of course.
But whatever, right?
When 8 (including ENDGAME at $2 billion+) MCU movies make over a billion dollars worldwide, yeah, that’s a damn good run.
Now, that doesn’t mean that every single MCU films were great. No, there are some, well, “less than good” movies in the bunch for sure. Regardless, it’s inarguable that this whole thing has been anything but a rousing success.
Props to you Marvel Films, Kevin Feige, and all of those who were involved.
So, what can Warner Bros. learn from all of this when it comes to DC on film?
I’ll tell you…
Absolutely, positively, NOTHING.
ALSO READ: AVENGERS: ENDGAME Review by Bill “Jett” Ramey
The last thing that the Warner Bros. brass should do is change the course of DC on film (again) simply based on the success of the MCU and ENDGAME.
After the debacle that is known as BvS/JUSTICE LEAGUE — which was caused by a knee-jerk, reactionary, and frankly half-assed attempt to get to their version of Marvel’s THE AVENGERS yesterday, it looks like Warner Bros. had finally learned their lesson (again).
Under a new regime headed by Toby Emmerich and Walter Hamada, an executive decision was made for DC on film to be “less focused” on a shared universe. Here’s exactly what Mr. Emmerich said…
We all feel like we’ve turned a corner now. We’re playing by the DC playbook, which is very different than the Marvel playbook. We are far less focused on a shared universe. We take it one movie at a time. Each movie is its own equation and own creative entity. If you had to say one thing about us, it’s that it always has to be about the directors.
And you know what? He’s 100% spot-on, F’n right.
Warner Bros. has indeed turned a corner with AQUAMAN (I guess you can count the underperforming SHAZAM! because it got good reviews) and it would be a mistake to reverse course (again). The DC playbook is absolutely different than the Marvel playbook — which WB finally figured out — and there’s no need to try to copy it (again).
Thus, WB is smart to go their own way with DC on film and focus on each movie, as “its own equation and own creative entity.”
In other words, while these films may technically exist in a “shared universe”, that doesn’t mean WB plans to continue cinematic DC world-building. (And for those who need these things to be “connected”, I’m sure you can watch, say, WONDER WOMAN 1984 and know that somewhere out there, the 5-year-old Arthur Curry is living in a lighthouse in Maine being raised by his lighthouse keeper father and all is well.)
Back to AVENGERS: ENDGAME, does anyone really think that the success of that film caught WB by surprise? That because of the film’s success, they’re now going to do a 180 (again) and keep on keeping on with an overt shared DC on film universe that will build towards another BIG team-up movie (i.e. JUSTICE LEAGUE 2) movie?
Indeed, Warner Bros. smartly said, “Well, we can’t beat ’em,” so we’re not going to keep trying to join (copy) ’em.” Essentially, they are going back to what has worked the best for them: One DC movie at a time without making it all “connect.”
As someone who has been a frequent critic of how Warner Bros. handled DC on film post-THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY, I’ve gotta give them their props for not continuing to bang their head against a brick wall thinking it’ll finally come down.
Not only did they change DC on film “proper,” if you will, they also are making these one-off, self-contained, and totally standalone movies like the Todd Phillips-directed JOKER starring Joaquin Phoenix.
More movies like JOKER going forward, please WB! And more DC movies like AQUAMAN too — which was 99.9% totally an “Aquaman” film, as WONDER WOMAN 1984 looks to follow suit, and James Gunn’s THE SUICIDE SQUAD is being billed as a “relaunch” — though one of the film’s producers, Peter Safran, has publicly said it’s a “total reboot.”
Look, I get the passion of those fans who disagree with me when it comes to my take on DC on film. Many of you grew up with the animated JUSTICE LEAGUE TV series that ran back in the early 2000’s and are/were desirous of seeing that replicated in a live-action movie. (Of note, I grew up on SUPERFRIENDS in the 1970’s — never missed an episode on Saturday mornings — yet I have no overwhelming desire for another Justice League movie.) But WB spit the bit on not only a true live-action DC on film universe. but a proper Justice League movie as well.
They had their chance and they failed…epically.
Time to move on. Warner Bros. has and so should fans. – Bill “Jett” Ramey