5 Ways DC Can Save its Universe
As its reviews indicated, Suicide Squad not only failed to become the answer to Warner Bros.’ superhero problem, but it may have even been a step backwards when compared to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Given the buzz that accompanied Suicide Squad in the months leading to its premiere, the lackluster response could lead to huge changes in the near future.
But is there even any hope for the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) at this point? Maybe, but the situation is certainly dire. What felt like growing pains in Warner Bros.’ push to establish the universe, now feels like major problems deserving of extensive and dramatic change. Here are five ways DC can save the DCEU.
1. Get rid of Zack Snyder
I’m not the first to say it and I won’t be the last, but Snyder simply has to go if Warner Bros. wants to turn around this sinking DCEU ship. Even if Suicide Squad wasn’t directed by him, the DCEU is currently being oriented around Snyder’s vision and it’s obviously not working. His dark and gritty style at one time seemed like the perfect way to differentiate the DC films from the Marvel films, but something is getting lost in translation — after all, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was dark, but that still worked with critics and viewers alike.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong with Snyder’s direction because it feels like a cascading effect. As a director, Snyder is arguably without equal when it comes to beautifully styled action sequences and scenes on a visual level, but as a storyteller something is not connecting with audiences. As of now, his DC films are style over substance, which frankly we should have seen coming.
2. Figure out the tone once and for all
This has been a common thread for a while now starting with Snyder’s bleak take on a superhero who’s supposed to inspire hope: Superman. But Suicide Squad and what we’ve heard of Justice League seemed to indicate that someone had listened to the complaints and was working to correct it — the problem is that they seem to have either overcompensated or took the advice in the wrong direction. So now the question isn’t whether the DCEU is too dark or too light, it’s that the tone is just not working and needs to be completely re-evaluated.
3. Let talented directors make their mark
Marvel has made a habit of making interesting director choices, but for the most part they have been akin to a TV director coming in to follow up on an established universe — that’s the benefit of having someone like Marvel’s Kevin Feige running the show. Since Snyder has shown he can’t steer the ship in the same way as Feige and no other studio voice seems to connect everything together at Warner Bros., it may be time to let some talented directors have creative reign. The funny thing is that this is what they’ve said their goal was initially, but it’s hard to envision that it’s actually happening.
While Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) and Rick Fumuyiha (The Flash) were inspired choices, maybe it’s time to let some other creative voices have some room to flex — it can’t really get any worse after all. [Update, 11/4/16: Director Rick Fumuyiha has left ‘The Flash’ over “creative differences,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.]
The closest thing we’ve had so far is the news that Ben Affleck will be co-writing and directing a standalone Batman film, but it’s time to think about that kind of commitment to directors that might represent a risk. Think Edgar Wright and Ant-Man before Wright and Marvel parted ways.
4. Slow down
This is a simple one, but it might also be the most important: Warner Bros. needs to slow down. Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is nearly a decade old and Warner Bros.’ DCEU film slate already resembles Marvel’s over the next several years with an expansive list of films in various stages of development. Do we really need an Aquaman film? What about a Cyborg film? These are smaller, niche characters (by most onlookers’ standards) whose presence in the Justice League film are being used to push standalones, but it feels like they’re putting the cart before the horse. All the focus needs to be on establishing a successful DCEU at this point with everything else on the back-burner.
5. Blow it all up
This is the most extreme fix, but maybe it’s time to think about blowing up the entire current DCEU and admit it’s beyond repair. It might be hard to stomach, but maybe our best shot at getting the DC stories we deserve is to wait a couple of years and see a new vision from a new group of people. Warner Bros. certainly can’t be happy with the returns they’ve seen on their huge investments and fans definitely aren’t happy, so the question is pretty simple: Who are these films for? There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark, and there are more and more reasons piling up that seem to suggest there’s no fix in sight.
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