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.