Last week, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice rode into theaters riding a wave of hype and excitement, but was met with (largely) negative reviews from critics. The movie served as the genesis for the DC Extended Universe and serves as the jumping board for future Wonder Woman, Flash, and Aquaman movies as it looks to rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe for comic book universe supremacy. Although the DCEU didn’t get off to an ideal start, it still has a lot of good things going for it.
Batman v Superman‘s reviews weren’t exactly glowing, but there was still a lot of good elements in it that will be important for DC Comics, Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder to build off of into future DCEU films, the most important of which being the two-part Justice League epic. It’s up to you to form your own opinion about the movie, but today we’re taking a walk on the bright side as we lay out Why the DC Extended Universe Will Succeed.
The following article contains spoilers, so beware if you haven’t seen Batman v. Superman yet.
A Lasting Impression Has Been Made, For Better or Worse
Even before Batman v. Superman opened, there was an incredible amount of buzz surrounding the film. Granted, it was largely due to the negative reviews when the movie first opened, but even after the fact, it’s become the most talked-about film of the year. When viewers end up watching the movie, they can make up their mind if they like it or not, that’s not for us to say, but what we can say is that it’s definitely leaving a distinctive mark (not unlike Affleck’s Batman would). This bodes well for the future of the DC Extended Universe.
The film tried to do a plethora of things on the fly — inciting the DC Universe, setting up future projects, creating a dynamic clash between its protagonists, etc. — and this is a major reason why so many critics were quick to call the film overstuffed. It simply may have been trying to do a bit too much. But what’s done is done, and the film is on its way to profitability and its targeted $1 billion worldwide gross. Batman v. Superman will be on the minds of moviegoers for a long time, and many will continue buying tickets for the films of the DC Universe, whether they’re hoping to see more of the same, or a correction of the sins in the movie that set everything in motion.
The Tension Between Batman and Superman is Set
Nothing drives a plot like a good dose of conflict, and Zack Snyder established this perfectly in Batman v. Superman. By the end of the movie, Batman and Superman make amends — they kind of have to when both of their mothers are named Martha, we guess — but you get the sense that although they are willing to work together now, there will still be conflicting ideals between them. The new Batman brings a new brand of justice that doesn’t shy away from killing. Superman is no stranger to killing (or the controversy that comes with it) in this new world, but he isn’t mercilessly breaking limbs and branding criminals like animals either. These two will surely continue to butt heads in the future.
The tension is set for Snyder to play around with and put these two characters at odds with each other in the Justice League films. Superman is the knight in shining armor sent here to save the world, while the Dark Knight dispenses a punishing brand of justice that will make some flinch. It’s a great opportunity to not only put these two characters at odds more, but possibly to even strengthen their new alliance. Fights are part of any friendship, this one just involves two superheroes.
Wonder Woman Is Awesome
One of the highlights in Batman v. Superman is most definitely the introduction of Wonder Woman. The Amazonian warrior has been on the cusp of movie stardom for what seems decades, but it became official with Gal Gadot donning the famed Lasso of Truth and indestructible bracelets. Gadot’s understated performance as Wonder Woman was widely praised (as was her fantastic theme created by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL), and she managed to silence the vast majority of critics that had spoken out against her casting a few years ago.
With her first appearance dating back to 1941 in All Star Comics #8, it’s about time this badass woman warrior finally got her own feature film. The Wonder Woman movie — which we still don’t know a ton about thus far — will be an important cog in the development of the DC Extended Universe, and it’s scheduled to hit theaters on June 23, 2017, a day that can’t get here soon enough.
A New Kind of Batman
After The Dark Knight trilogy from Christopher Nolan set a new bar for comic book films to strive towards, the news that Zack Snyder was looking to reboot the character (only a year removed from Christian Bale’s last performance) left many feeling hesitant and uneasy back in 2013. The casting of Ben Affleck, who’d turned in a subpar superheroic performance in the past, was even more worrisome. All that worrying was for naught, though, because Ben Affleck brought his full A-list charisma and reinvented the character entirely, delivering a Batman we’d never seen before. Simply put, he was awesome.
Aside from the darker tone, iron Batsuit and arsenal of gadgets and weapons, this new Batman is grizzled and a veteran of the vigilante burden. Affleck perfectly conjures this through his brooding Batman performance, and he even threw in some top-notch detective work for good measure. Rumors of a possible solo Batman movie featuring Oscar-winner Affleck as director, writer and actor — which might have a script already — has us salivating for more.
Darker Counter-Programming to the Marvel Movies
One of the highlighted themes from Batman v. Superman that received negative backlash was the dark overall tone. The bleakness that hangs over the movie isn’t exactly a hopeful outlook, but it’s definitely different from the Marvel movies. Zack Snyder’s goal of grounding the film’s in his (slightly fantastical) reality made for some broodingly dour moments, but it certainly helps differentiate the two comic book universes on the big screen.
The rest of the movies in the DCEU will have their own qualities that differentiate them, and the dark tone may slowly lighten to a grayish one after the backlash to Batman v Superman. This week, the Suicide Squad cast reportedly went in for reshoots after it was deemed too dark without enough moments of levity. This may all change by the time Wonder Woman and future DCEU make their way to theaters, but a darker take on superheroes will be a staple of the DC movies, and as long they don’t come across as too self-serious, it’s not a bad thing.
Unique Styles with Different Visionary Directors
Directors make or break movies, just ask the detractors of Zack Snyder. Marvel has always gone the way of choosing fairly unknown directors that will keep the MCU vision consistent throughout each movie. The one time they hired an expressive and unique director, Edgar Wright, they split due to creative differences three months before shooting began. DC, meanwhile, is making the hiring of visionary directors that can provide their own stamp their top priority.
We already mentioned Snyder, who’d well-known for his distinctive visual flair, but David Ayer (Suicide Squad), Justin Lin (Aquaman), and Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) all have experience with feature films and they all possess unique styles that will bring an elastic vision to the DCEU. With Patty Jenkins at the helm of Wonder Woman, this will be the first time a female director leads a major comic book adaptation. The new approach seems to bring excitement the movies coming out, but only time will tell just how successful it will be.
The Rapid Expansion of the DC Extended Universe Out of “Building-Mode”
The Marvel Cinematic Universe spent an entire Phase building up its Avengers initiative. It was a long, drawn out process that featured many a flushed out backstory — some of which weren’t all that memorable. The DC Extended Universe has chosen to do the big team-up event film before all of its characters were given solo adventures, so things have to be done on the fly. This seems to signal that the movies coming out of the DCEU will be audacious and unflinching, qualities we’re always looking to see in movies.
With at least nine movies set to be released within the next five years, the process of getting the ball rolling and laying the essential groundwork is mostly done. The DCEU needed to start with a bang, and now it just needs to keep the momentum going. Batman v. Superman was the first step, and Suicide Squad will be the next.
Promising Set Ups For Other Justice Leaguers
Snyder and company did a great job of keeping the wraps on Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg leading up to the big release. Batman v. Superman marks the first time anyone had seen any of them on the big screen. Nobody had seen Ezra Miller as The Flash or Ray Fisher as Cyborg, and other than a widely-publicized character poster, Aquaman was also kept under wraps too. But we finally got to see all of the new DCEU superheroes in action (well, not so much for Cyborg, though we did glimpse his transformation origin, which was intense) and it looks very promising.
The only unknown character which we had previously glimpsed before the film was Wonder Woman, but it was still a treat seeing Gal Gadot don the legendary armor on the silver screen. Their introductions were very short, but it still peeked interest in many casual viewers. We won’t discuss their respective scenes too much, but it’s safe to say future directors of the DC Extended Universe have a lot to play with.
Future DC Extended Universe Movies Will Provide Different Perspectives
At this point, we know who Batman and Superman are. There have been tons of successful movies from these two characters, but the DC Extended Universe will provide audiences with a direct relationship to new characters: Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash. In the film, Wonder Woman reveals to Batman she’d left humans to fend for themselves over 100 years ago. Why? The answer to that question will be in her feature film, where we’ll flash back to WWI.
As for Aquaman, his storyline hasn’t yet been revealed. There have been rumors that he too chose to withdraw from humans — as well as one or two more recent whispers — but we won’t know until his own movie hits theaters in 2018.
Then there’s the BvS “knightmare” scene, after which the Flash appears to Bruce Wayne and warns him to “find the others.” Ezra Miller is a young actor, and thus his story arc as the Flash will tend to focus on a younger character, possibly alongside another less-than-seasoned Justice Leaguer. Batman is out to find them and unite the seven, but how will he convince them to join the Justice League? How will these characters of various backgrounds (an alien, a king, a princess, a billionaire, a forensic scientist, and a deformed football star [wait, who’s the seventh?!]) come together? How well will they play off each other? We can’t wait to find out.
The Quality of the Productions
The script and plot of Batman v. Superman have come under heavy scrutiny, but the production of the film hasn’t, and for good reason. Zack Snyder may not be the greatest storyteller, but he certainly has a flare for the dramatic and flashy, and this shows in all his films. Much less can’t be expected from the director of a movie like 300. BvS follows suit with its unique textures, rich visual effects and over-the-top score.
Snyder brought on Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL to compose the score and it paid dividends. The whole movie films like unified composition that is cohesive and organic in its implementation. On the production side, it is a very completed movie, which makes sense considering that Warner Bros. reportedly spent roughly $400 million dollars making and promoting it. This sets a precedence for future DCEU movies to have this same production quality, albeit with a blend of unique elements that separate them from the avalanche of comic book adaptations out there.
They’re Comic Book Movies, and We Still Love Them
Many in the movie industry have predicted that a sense fatigue will set in for comic book adaptations, that the genre will eventually be played out and go the way of the western. That isn’t happening anytime soon. For the time being, there is plenty of source material that hasn’t been brought to the big screen, and comic fans need look no further than the DC Extended Universe.
Although we’ve seen our fair share of Batman and Superman movies, we’ve yet to see the other League members on screen, and their stories will feature new material and information your average movie fan hasn’t seen. New characters with new perspectives will always have a fanbase, as will superheroes, who may very well be the Greek Gods of the modern world like some have postulated.
And that’s not even taking into account the amount of money the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Dark Knight trilogy and the recent Deadpool and Batman v. Superman movies have made. Suffice to say, it’s a lot, and the revenue generating alone will keep the movies coming for a long time.
The Scope of Batman v Superman Will Translate Nicely Into the DCEU
When the Marvel Cinematic Universe first began, it was with Iron Man in 2008. The $140 million price tag was not a cheap one by any means, but it was a huge risk for the company at the time, especially as the whole thing hinged on the skills of a once exiled actor, Robert Downey Jr. Once The Avengers ($220 million) rolled around four films later, the stage was set to go all out. The films in Phase 2 are a lot bigger and bolder than the first Captain America or Thor movies, and we expect that to continue into Phase 3 for Marvel.
Batman v Superman ($250 million production budget, with roughly $150 million more spent on promotional costs) didn’t have the luxury of a build up, so it went all out in an epic extravaganza. This is a nice shift from the MCU, which is built upon safely budgeted films (aside from the Iron Man films) and takes the hump to big tentpole films when it comes to The Avengers. Obviously, other Marvel movies are still big movies, but they’re not in the same category as when the whole gang gets together. The DC Extended Universe needs to go big now to make its mark, and it can’t replicate the MCU recipe for success. So the massively scoped BvS won’t be an anomaly, but a trend setter for a cinematic universe that’s just getting started. Buckle up, folks.
What do you think? Did we leave out any important element from Batman v. Superman the DCEU can use to build off? Leave a comment down below.