The relationship between the audience, critics, and filmmakers, is as old as the movie industry itself. However, in the modern age things have gotten exponentially more complicated as the internet and social media have created a new level of connectivity. Since the release of Man of Steel, Warner Bros has been creating their own DC Comics world on film, which continued with this year’s release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and last week’s Suicide Squad. However, no one ever said that building a universe was easy.
Suicide Squad opened strongly at the box office, scoring the largest August opening ever with a $132 million dollar debut. However, the movie is only sitting at a 26% Rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This follows their release of Batman v Superman in March, with that film now holding a 27% Rating on RT. Regardless of the current box-office numbers, this certainly is not the ideal model for long-term growth of the DC Extended Universe (as it’s known).
“You needn’t look any further than the Suicide Squad director and cast response to the negative reviews to feel how negative critiques motivate us. Ultimately, we can’t base anything on [the critical response]. As artists, we aim to please absolutely everybody with our work, but we also know that we have to keep expressing ourselves as best as we can express ourselves.”
Director David Ayer was one of the first to respond to the criticism of his film with a tweet that loosely translates to “I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.” He was then backed by Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins who tweeted her support of the director’s film and questioned the judgement of reviewers. Miller explained that the negative feedback is actually inspiring the cast and crew of Justice League, even citing the T.I. song, “Motivation.” More importantly the actor brings up the main issue that could be the key to unlocking the full cinematic potential of the DCEU.
All three DCEU films so far share one thing in common: they are all divisive movies. However it could be argued in the case of Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad that the major story and editing problems found in both films are due to WB’s own meddling. There have been rampant rumors that alternate cuts of both movies were demanded by the studios, which could be seen as undermining their own artists’ vision. Hopefully, the studio’s executives have learned from the experience and next year their fortunes will change with creative films (and a new DC Entertainment president in Geoff Johns) that set a new standard for DC superhero filmmaking.
Suicide Squad is in theaters now. Wonder Woman opens on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash, the Batman solo movie and Man of Steel 2 are currently without release dates.