The DCEU Would Have Been Better Starting With The Dark Knight

The New Justice League

The question of whether we'd get a Batman v Superman after all we've discussed is a big hanging question. An older Batman, which this would be, immediately courts The Dark Knight Returns comparisons, and when you're in a shared universe that opens up the possibility of a Superman fight. Indeed, given that these two characters were until very recently the banner of not just DC but all of superhero cinema, you can bet World's Finest would be at the forefront of any Justice League series, and as the notion of a versus film predates Snyder by almost a decade, it seems inevitable. However, were a film to bring these two together before a full team-up, with the loss of Snyder's gameplan it would be less a debate of morality as ideology: you can't push a pre-existing Batman as far as Dawn of Justice did Batfleck, and with a long-standing shared universe at play a different set up is needed.

Related: The Death and Return of Superman Was The DCEU's Biggest Mistake

And, so, to Justice League. Any DC shared universe has this as its end goal, meaning any shared universe variant coming in the wake of the MCU will follow a similar sort of gameplan, give or take a "Martha". The lineup we have currently is Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman, with possible support from high-profile Bat-family members (for those keeping track, that's Justice League Mortal minus Martian Manhunter).

At this point, the hypotheticals are getting extreme and so anything further is pure speculation, although based on how Warner Bros. pivoted from Darkseid (a Snyder-pushed idea) to the Legion of Doom in Justice League's post-credits scene, it may be that a more overseen story would have kept things Earthbound, at least to begin with.

This Would Be A Different Feeling DC Movie Universe

Christian Bale as Batman in The Dark Knight Rises

While story discussion has a cap, there's a lot to be said about style and tone. Chiefly, The Dark Knight Trilogy is a decidedly unfantasy series, purposely grounded in the real world and making little in way of consolations for the existence of aliens or Gods. This makes putting Nolan's Batman alongside Green Lantern, Superman, or even The Flash a strange prospect; individually there's the potential for strong enough interpersonal relationships, but working together without something definitely bleeding after the first innings feels unlikely.

But that doesn't mean it couldn't have worked. Iron Man was similarly grounded and has now developed into a universe where, last we saw, half of all life was wiped from existence in a single snap of a glove encrusted with six magic gems. And, after all, in the comics Batman has bridged petty crime in Gotham and becoming a literal God. Both of these comparisons come with caveats - Iron Man was slightly more sci-fi and the comic medium is open to greater story shifts - but with the right level of escalation (a Nolan buzzword) it's possible.

Related: Hollywood Learned The Right Lessons From The Dark Knight (Eventually)

However, that still leads to a very different feeling DC movie universe. Man of Steel grounded Snyder's series in human emotion, yet with its Kryptonian hero still viewed the world from an elevated position. It was only with Batman v Superman the human POV really came through, and that was blinded by hatred. A Dark Knight continuation would be intrinsically street level thanks to three preceding movies, framing the emerging magic with more shock and wonder.

Page 4: Would This Alternate DCEU Be More Successful?

Key Release Dates
  • Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
  • Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
  • Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
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