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The DC Extended Universe Has a PR Problem

Ben Affleck Batman Suit in Batcave

The Rumor Mill Churns

After the devastating loss of Carrie Fisher, Lucasfilm was quick to snub rumors that she was going to be replaced for Episode IX with the use of motion capture like her younger version was in Rogue One. The announcement was short and to the point, nipping the fan rumor mill in the bud before it got out of control. Warner Bros. should take note.

To give Johns some credit, recent rumors that 2018 would see as many as 4 Batman related movies were debunked on Twitter with Jon Berg and Geoff Johns mocking the notion in a brief exchange, but this is, unfortunately, one of the only examples of these rumors being addressed head on, and it was via Twitter instead of a more formal announcement.

Ben Affleck’s departure as director of The Batman was also much more of a circus than it needed to be, with all official sources staying mum on the topic until it was already widely circulated that he wanted out, obviously resulting in a lot of negative spin before Affleck finally announced that Matt Reeves would be taking his place. Even Marvel didn’t suffer as much negativity for Egar Wright’s exit from Ant-Man, which had the appearance of a much less amicable split. Silence from WB led to the rumor growing to the point that people were claiming Affleck wanted out of the role entirely, leading to even more supposed behind the scenes drama, when simply confirming the rumors that he was stepping down early on and being more transparent with the search for a new director would have shattered the air of secrecy that lent credence to the rumors of deeper troubles.

All Marvel movies experience reshoots, yet they aren’t subject to the same rumors that DC movies face every time they confront additional photography and, once again, this is largely due to how up-front Marvel is with some plans. DC producers and directors have responded to reshoot rumors in interviews or via Twitter a few times, but it’s always reactionary, allowing rumors of troubled productions to spread. As seen with Wonder Woman, that was nowhere near the case, yet the movie suffered from negative publicity all the way until release as a result

Too Much Room For Confusion

Compounding the problem, whenever there are statements made about plans for the universe and its intended direction, it tends to happen in interviews, meaning that the contextis lost to spin. Most recently, Geoff Johns told The Wrap the plan for the DCEU is to “Get to the essence of the character and make the movies fun. Just make sure that the characters are the characters with heart, humor, hope, heroics, and optimism at the base” (which is simply a reiteration of comments made a year ago).

The problem is, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman were ultimately - debates over execution aside - stories about heart, hope, heroics, and optimism. Obviously there’s a lot of disagreement on that point, so the narrative following his statements quickly becomes “Geoff Johns is going to change the DCEU to add heart, humor, hope, heroics, and optimism," which is obviously a slight against fans who loved DC’s existing approach and believed that they were already doing that.

Combine that with the fact that Joss Whedon and Danny Elfman have replaced Zack Snyder and Junkie XL on Justice League, and it’s more than understandable that fans are confused and upset over the franchise’s future - especially after Snyder's vision on Batman v Superman was handicapped by the theatrical cut. Sure, it’s been specified that Whedon is only fulfilling Snyder’s original plan, and Junkie XL had a scheduling conflict, but if Warner Bros. and DC Films aren’t going to tackle these issues head on by officially coming out to set the narrative, then every article about these movies will continue to open with a paragraph detailing the divisive nature of the DCEU.

Next: Which Characters Are in the New DC Extended Universe Intro?

Key Release Dates
  • Wonder Woman (2017) release date: Jun 02, 2017
  • Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
  • Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
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