The short answer is, naturally, yes. Man of Steel wasn’t a bad movie, but it wasn’t the cornerstone Warner Bros. needed to solidify their success as a franchise. Does Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice feel a bit rushed? As fans we have been trained by Marvel in this respect. We received 5 individual films from them before any of our heroes (sans Black Widow) officially met up in the Avengers. We assume it a necessity that something similar must occur with DC Cinematic Universe, but does it? Can WB, as filmmakers, take that fast-track to catching their DC lineup up to the level Marvel’s been sitting at for the better part of a decade? A better question still is, are we
as moviegoers as fans discouraging ourselves by assuming that their darker, stranger, and off-kilter formula won’t work? Do we as a fandom have the right to expect more from something we know absolutely nothing about?
As I’ve been blogging more and more as Geekritique, I’ve noticed a trend that seems to be getting worse and worse with each drop of news we’re recieving from the DC Cinematic Universe front: everybody’s hating on it. Whether it be fanboys, trolls, critics of the genre – it seems we’ve concluded that since it’s not what we expected, it must be wrong, it must be horrible, and that the entire DC Cinematic Universe is doomed.
Yesterday I had the pleasure and privelege of speaking and being interviewed by Dave from The 52 Now! podcast (which will go up next week). One of the things we spoke in great length about was how fandom seems to be stuck on this very idea. And how a lot of it has to do with the bigger fan sites (which will remain unnamed) creating a collective bias among fans as to what to expect. This is not cool. So let’s take a step back and discuss a bit on why we honestly shouldn’t be worrying.
Let’s start with Man of Steel, the first offering within this universe we received. Zack Snyder has garnered a lot of hate for the movie’s bleak tone, it’s lack of joviality, and the like. I for one don’t think it’s a terrible film, although I would have liked to see it in color. One thing that cannot be argued is that Snyder purposefully treated the film with a thick desaturated look, something that just seems un-Supermanish. If you want to see what Man of Steel could have looked like, with all of its gloriously restored color, be sure to check out this link. As far as box office successes go, it outperformed a number of Marvel films, and actually has a better opening weekend than its competitor’s average. But critically Man of Steel falls flat with a Rotten Tomatoes score lower than that of any Marvel movie.
When it comes to the second film in their franchise, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s on rocky ground. Fans can’t wait to hate it. But let’s be honest. We’re going on a wild ride with this one. It’s a movie that’s so risky you might as well go full Zack Snyder on it, and ride the hate train, which is exactly what Warner Bros. has done. Last year DC decided to hold a standoff against Marvel by placing the release date of the film on May 6, 2016 – the same day that Captain America 3 was slated to drop. And let’s do the math. Superman + Batman (+ Wonder Woman + Aquaman + Cyborg) should be able to scare Marvel out of the coveted first week of May spot. But Marvel chose not to move. WB ended up caving and are releasing the film a few months early, but it’s widely suspected that they heard wind of the kind of trouble they were putting themselves up against. Captain America 3 was soon revealed to be titled Captain America: Civil War, starring most of the cast of the Avengers (and probably Spider-Man). It was a smart move to pull their film forward a bit.
We’ve since received our first full trailer of Batman V. Superman, which actually still feels like a teaser, and people either love it or hate it. Some sites went as far as to say that the trailer details all that is wrong with the DC Cinematic Universe. It’s too dark, they’re trying too hard, etc. A lot of this bias comes straight from large sites with influence. And it is totally within their prerogative to state their opinions, but fans need to take opinions with a handful of salt. This trailer leaked soon after the latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer dropped, and of course it felt different. Of course it isn’t what you expect. The same nostalgia you felt from the Star Wars trailer should not temper how you feel towards a trailer in another genre altogether. Another thing to take into consideration is the heavy use of misleading screens and scenes we received within the trailer. Snyder and Warner Bros. are going for a very distinctly different feel than anything Marvel has yet produced. Should this spell out the doom of their entire plan? Absolutely not.
And then there’s the issue with Jared Leto’s iteration of the Joker (who is rumored to show up in Batman V. Superman, but is confirmed to show up in the third DC Cinematic Universe flick, Suicide Squad). When that picture went up the internet was ablaze with hate. Funny enough, this is the same thing that happened when a picture of Heath Ledger’s joker popped up on the web, a few years before The Dark Knight hit our screens, and that turned out to be brilliantly casted. All we know of this new Joker is his insanity is apparent, and that we’re in for a completely new take on the character. Gone are the days of the mad clown. Gut reactions have a lot to do with how we collectively took the Joker. Our first response is one of repulse. But when we break the tattoos down, try and give them some context, and wake up to realize he’ll most likely be wearing clothing, we can understand we literally know nothing, and shouldn’t judge the film or their darker, more desaturated universe accordingly.
Recently it’s been reported by The Hollywood Reporter that Warner Bros. may have acted in haste in attempting to match their rival so suddenly.
In the early going, some in Hollywood are questioning whether Warners has acted too much in haste without having fleshed out the world on which so much hinges. Grumbling among talent reps came especially in response to the studio’s strategy of hiring five writers to compete for a job on Wonder Woman, which has a June 2017 release date. On Aquaman, set for 2018, sources say Warners commissioned scripts from three writers, one of whom followed the studio’s direction only to be told the rules governing the universe had changed and his work no longer was usable. Another writer has been on hold for the film for months as the studio works to define its vision. “They just haven’t been thorough about their whole world and how each character fits and how to get the most out of each writer’s time by giving them direction,” says a rep with knowledge of the process. “Obviously, Marvel’s very good at that.”
Add to this the fact that there is no one person presiding over the goings on of the universe (like Marvel has with Kevin Feige) aside from Zack Snyder who’s taken it under his wing, this does seem ominous. Especially when you realize that Snyder’s attention is honed in on his current film Batman V. Superman. But who knows. Where this may lead to a less-cohesive universe, it may also strive to give us better individual films. One thing that has been leveled at the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that we are receiving the same formulaic story structure with different characters, genres and settings.
Ultimately, negative feedback can hurt or hinder a project, before it’s even released. For one, it will create a biased opinion amongst the viewership that may hinder enjoyment or satisfaction with the finished product(s). But then it may push the filmmakers at Warner Bros. to push harder at making some awesome stuff. Stay tuned.
I’d like to hear your thoughts, so be sure to comment below. For more information about my friends at The 52 Now! podcast, subscribe on iTunes, or check out their site at Zowie Kerpowey. I’ll actually be featured on their next show as we dissect Avengers: Age of Ultron, so check that out.
15 thoughts on “Should Warner Bros. and the DC Cinematic Universe Be Worried? And Should You?”
Personally I hated Man of Steel, but not because it was dark. I very much disliked what they did with Superman as a character. Snyder’s Superman is not the Superman I enjoy watching or reading about. That, and because I generally don’t like Zack Snyder’s movies, I’m not looking forward to Batman vs. Superman at all. That said, I will at least give the other movies a chance, and I do hope that those who liked Man of Steel will enjoy Batman vs. Superman.
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Unlike you I did think that ‘Man of Steel’ was a terrible movie. For the non fan it was mostly boring with occasional eye-rolling melodrama; for the fan it was a travesty. I also thought the last Batman movie was boring. So I had no interest in BvS going in.
In the theater for Age of Ultron this weekend, they played this trailer and the one for Star Wars right next to each other. The crowd reactions could not have been more different. You could hear crickets after BvS, whereas Star Wars inspired a roomful of cheers. One meets fans where they live; the other tries to take them places no one wants to go.
I neither love nor hate the trailer for BvS, but I know I won’t be seeing the movie.
Oh. Uhh.. Okay. Well there you have it. This article probably isn’t for you I guess.
I liked Man of Steel… and even though The Dark Knight trilogy doesn’t seem like it’s tied to this at all it at least gives a clear basis for Batman… and I think if it mainly surrounds Batman and Superman it could be cool… but what I always saw as the problem was introducing characters that don’t have a good foundation… then for people like me who may not know that much about them sometimes you feel lost… like all I knew about Aqua Man was from the cartoon which kind of made him out to be lame… and then I read some stuff where people are talking about how amazing he actually is in the comic books and it’s like wow… but without a good basis for him which his own movie would’ve helped provide then it’s going to a little off putting if they throw him in without much explanation… now if it’s just enough to sort of introduce a character so that maybe later they can give him his own film now that wouldn’t be so bad… but if you’re having to introduce and explain a bunch of folks in one film then it’s going to get bogged down and drags on… or it’s going to be halfassed and you’ll feel no connection to them at all…
and I read a lot of comments on the joker picture and for the most part people seem to be hating it because it didn’t seem to tie into the idea of the joker… I mean the man looked more like a crack head than the joker sort of insane… and like I read one person asking if anyone thought the joker would be able to sit still long enough to get those tattoos… which a lot of people thought were a bit meta… while it’s to be seen how good the guy acts in the part… also the appearance is a big thing… and my initial feelings against Ledger were because I only ever had seen him in love story type things and it just didn’t seem likely he could pull of that sort of crazy… but the first time I saw him dressed as the joker suddenly I was a bit more on board… appearance is a big part of the game… that’s why having a good makeup artist and costume designer is so important because it goes just as far in creating the character as the actual acting does…
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Really well thought out piece, thanks for sharing! I’m not a fan of Man Of Steel, but I think your arguments regarding the DC Universe and Warner Brothers strategy have certainly given me food for thought. Let’s hope WB know what they are doing!
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I’m glad I could help! No problem.
Too… many… topics… must pick… some…
Randomly, and in no particular order…
All the dark vs light or grim vs heroic stuff seems like strawman stuff to me. People liked Frank Miller’s Dark Knight and Alan Moore’s Watchmen… so someone decided people liked dark comics… then everything became dark and a lot of it sucked… so someone decided people don’t like dark comics.
People like GOOD comics. That’s it. Dark Knight was good… Watchmen was good… end of story. Lots of light-hearted and heroic stuff that is good too. Everything doesn’t have to be the same to be good! CSI is good, we don’t need 5 more CSI spinoffs… and all the other networks cloning that format.
This is just like when Hollywood would flip flop on comic movies… Superman? Does good, people must love heroes… Superman IV? Tanked, people must hate heroes… No no no… people liked the good Superman movie and hated the bad Superman IV movie. It really is that simple.
Nothing against Affleck… he might well do a good job. I still am disappointed that since they are going with the new Man of Steel actor they didn’t stick with the Nolan Batman as well. Those were good Batman movies… and that Batman was primed and ready to accept some help from other heroes after having gone it alone the other 3 movies. It would make sense for that Batman to be open to a Justice League.
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I wouldn’t say I’m worried about the DC Cinematic Universe, because I take each installment individually. Yeah, I’m pretty worried about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but if that doesn’t work, there’s still Wonder Woman after that. And then Justice League. Just like how I was worried for Avengers: age of Ultron. Ultimately, that didn’t turn out to have been necessary. But I’m still worried about Ant-Man. But that doesn’t mean I’m worried about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The only way I’ll start feeling skeptical about both is if references to other installments become too overabundant for each story to be told on its own. Generally, I’m not really keen on cinematic universes anyway. What made Superman, Batman and Spider-Man so great is that they weren’t connected to anything else and could exists of themselves. And yet, the reason cinematic universes exist is because it’s resembling the comic books and because it’s necessary for the Avengers and Justice League. Without a cinematic universe, Marvel couldn’t make Civil War or Infinity War. But I like to think I can block-out the cinematic universe when experiencing each part. Yeah, Man of Steel only got 55% on Rotten Tomatoes (although, in my opinion, it deserved that), but Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice could be in the 90%s. So long as we remember not to judge something by other things, it should be able to work.
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I know the Man of Steel movie wasn’t popular due to the dark undertones and the fact that he didn’t just lock up the bad guy so that he could escape, over and over and over, and sorry, got stuck on repeat, but I enjoyed it. It wasn’t the normal, predictable version of the superhero with all the superpowers and one tiny weakness. I think it was well past time he be made more realistic. Sometimes the lines between what’s right and wrong are blurred and sometimes it’s better to end the life of one to save the lives of many.
Although I’m still upset about Ben Affleck being cast as Batman, I’ve come to look forward to this movie’s release. And, in many ways, I agree that Wonder Woman is too skinny, but that doesn’t mean she can’t change our perception of her role. The same stands true for the movies. We have to be patient and wait to see them to judge. And hopefully, we won’t be disappointed.
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Wow. People actually disliked Man of Steel? There are some part of that movie that I wasn’t particularly fond of, largely the fact that Lois so seemingly easily figured out who he was, but it was a top notch movie beyond that.
I especially love what the Dawn of Justice trailer is doing. Let’s be real here. Humanity’s leaders only ever react to that which they don’t understand or fear with aggression, is it such a stretch to imagine those reactions to Superman after the complete destruction he caused in Metropolis? And I think it’s been confirmed that Batsy’s based on Mark Miller’s design, which is bar none one of the darkest, most violent storylines they’ve ever taken Batman down. I can’t imagine this movie being anything BUT dark and gritty with that sort of Batman.
I think what it boils down to is the sort of mind at the helm of the film. Marvel’s movies are fun and exciting but they’re completely unimaginative where it comes to their storytelling at times [I read a review and it seems they gave Black Widow a ROMANTIC SUBPLOT FFS, in Age of Ultron]. I loved Avengers, but the entire point of that movie was just for everyone to meet up and have one big all out battle, something fans were craving for years. Marvel’s strength lies in the fact that they’re transferring to cinema key moments of their comics.
DC ISN’T doing that, instead, they’re exploring the ideals and morals behind their heroes, the people under the capes, and they’re working with fresh stories that draw little to no inspiration from the comics. It’s not even possible to compare the two franchises, in my book; their goals and endgames are so completely different that it would be like trying to discuss which book had better dragons, Eragon or ASoIaF.
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P.S. People wanting Man of Steel to be all bright and joyful are people who crave the familiarity of what Superman has always been. I feel Zack Snyder is perfectly justified making a dark, gritty movie because this IS a darker version of any Superman who’s ever made it to the screen; this is one who ultimately makes the choice to snap Zod’s neck.
Also, I’ve gotta wonder if these critics have even taken Snyder’s track record into account. Watchmen. 300 and sequel. Sucker Punch. There ain’t anything bright and cheerful about those movies. This is a man that specializes in dark, gritty and violent. That’s all I expected when I saw him at the helm of Man of Steel.
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Hey Rabin, completely agree on Man of Steel, while there were some parts that weren’t super great I thought it was a top notch movie too. And you’re right, they’re basing this new batman off of a more gritty version of the character, Frank Miller’s batman from The Dark Knight Returns which featured batman and superman’s most famous battle. I think you could say that they’re definitely drawing inspiration from the comics, in fact when they announced the movie in front of a live audience for the first time they did it by reading part of the speech that batman gives superman while they’re battling at the end of DKR. That’s also why batman appears in a metal suit in the BVS trailer, that’s the very same suit that he used to fight superman in DKR.
The trailer also has a very strong resemblance to the comic series Injustice, a very recent popular series that has been very highly reviewed. I think you should check it out! It explores what could lead superman to become a tyrant and it’s highly interesting.
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I LOVE INJUSTICE. I’m a few chapters back on Year Three, unfortunately. A few months back I Tweeted Tom Taylor and told him I thought he’s taking a page out of Joe Abercrombie’s character playbook, and this is what he replied with:
It’s nice to know that that’s the confrontation they’re using as a base for this movie; that’s one of the nastiest clashes those two have ever been in. Largely due to the fact it’s one of the few cases where it hasn’t been due to outside interference of any sort, like brainwashing or whatever.