The DCEU Needs A Proper Gameplan
Marvel has one great advantage, and his name is Kevin Feige. Feige is a producer visionary, almost single-handedly building the MCU into what it is today. He's responsible for so many great creative choices, although what's important is how forward-thinking he is. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. has failed to take the same kind of approach.
This has led to compounded problems. Production began on Justice League only a week after the theatrical release of Batman v Superman, giving the studio no chance to adapt. As a result, they tried to do a course-correction while production was in progress. Similar issues caused major problems with Suicide Squad, and now it's been reported DC has had another post-Justice League restructure.
It's time for DC to get an overseer and commit to a given direction. There's been a lot of talk of filmmaker freedom, but these corporate shifts haven't allowed that in most cases; Patty Jenkins fought her corner for Wonder Woman, and the result was easily the DCEU's best offering to date. Thankfully, the latest restructure may offer some of this stability, with it happening before production has begun on the next DC movies. The studio seems to have realized that pivoting during production is damaging. Now they just need to commit to a direction, choose their directors, and trust them to make the best films.
The DCEU Needs Stronger Marketing
It may not have been a hit with the critics, but Suicide Squad did incredibly well at the box office. Why? Because it had one of the strongest, most memorable marketing campaigns we've ever seen for a superhero film. The trailers were fun, upbeat, and enthusiastic. They made use of music in a way similar - but noticeably brand unique - to Guardians of the Galaxy. They were reinforced by unusual, amusing touches, including a UEFA EURO 2016 bid of all things. Every poster was carefully designed to fit in with the marketing campaign's overall theme.
Contrast this with Justice League. The marketing struck an off-note right from the start, promising to "unite the seven"; the final film only featured six superheroes. The trailers lacked a consistent style and tone. Worse, they didn't so much reveal the film's plot as offer a succession of disjointed scenes. They communicated the base-level concept — a group of superheroes unite against a major villain — and nothing more.
When we're talking mainstream audiences, a strong campaign is essential for appealing to the mainstream audiences. Fans will see a new movie regardless, so trailers just need to build the hype. However, for the majority of viewers, a harder sell is needed. On the fan side, though, it's essential that Warner Bros. get a handle on the DCEU's PR. The studio has seemed to be plagued by rumors and leaks of upcoming projects, and execs have struggled to control the narrative; with Justice League, there's confusion over how the reshoots altered the film and how it's altered the plan, with little official studio word to stop the panic.
The reality is that the DC Extended Universe has just as much potential as its rival Marvel Cinematic Universe, if not more. It includes some of the most powerful pop culture icons of all time, not to mention an neverending stream of movie-worthy stories; the worlds DC has access to are beyond anything we've seen on the big screen to date. There's literally no reason the DCEU can't win casual viewers back; it just involves making the right creative choices, and then putting together strong marketing campaigns to support top-quality films.
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019