The DCEU Has Failed
Whether you're a fan of the individual movies or not, the DC Extended Universe has failed you.
A couple of days ago, Henry Cavill, who you may know is the DC Extended Universe's Superman, agreed with a large block of fans that the DCEU has ultimately become a disappointment. In 2013, DC began its attempt to catch up to the monumental success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when they released Man of Steel. Now to be clear from the beginning, I'm a fan of both Marvel and DC Comics. Both franchises have so much to offer geeks the world over, and I was initially excited to see DC kick start its own film universe. However, Man of Steel failed to ignite true excitement among DC fans for a movie universe, and while the film in and of itself was enjoyable, it was to be the beginning of a struggling project that would, in my view, ultimately fail.
Perhaps the true beginning of the DCEU can be said to be when they announced Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Clear from the title they not only intended this to be a flick featuring DC's benchmark heroes, but was also to lead into the much-clamoured-for Justice League movie. But BvS in and of itself was a film and a concept that had massive potential, but failed to deliver anything other than a boring, overly long, mess of a film. Far from making me excited to see what was to be next in store for the DCEU, I was hoping Warner Brothers would can the project early and maybe have a go at hitting the refresh button; but they didn't do that, they decided to press ahead with Suicide Squad instead.
One of the reasons Marvel's Cinematic Universe has been so successful is they took the time to build up its roster of characters before bringing them onto the big screen. The major players were its focus and the side-characters, villains, and sub-plots naturally evolved over time, but with the DCEU, in their rush to catch up to Marvel, they have failed to understand this, and have failed to get their fans invested in this ongoing film franchise. While I was broadly familiar with the characters involved in the Suicide Squad story, it seemed an unusual choice to be the third film in its extended universe, but it was obvious DC wanted to do something different, so I was happy to go along with it, I mean, third time lucky, right? Well... not exactly. While the advertising for the film promoted the image of something that would be quite quirky, but still retain the relative darkness of the DCEU, the film itself was quite simply a hot, incoherent mess. The editing was horrible, the plot completely stupid, and the advertising, as it turned out, bordered on the misleading. Remember how much they promoted Jared Leto taking on the role of Joker? The guy was barely in the film and not even the central focus of the plot, so those who hoped to see a weird anti-hero Joker/Harley Quinn type storyline running throughout would be sorely disappointed.
So where to after Suicide Squad? Three films in a row getting a very critical "meh" from most fans, and while they were all financially successful, you had to wonder just how long Warner Bros were going to keep trying before they'd hand in the towel. Well, the next film up in the list was Wonder Woman, and would end up being a surprise hit both critically and financially. The success of Wonder Woman helped reinvigorate my desire to see the DCEU as a whole continue, yet as this was due to lead into Justice League, the news reports from that film do not give me much hope. A stream of news about re-shoots and a change of director late in the game isn't a good sign, and even the trailers for Justice League, while filled with moments that likely inspire awe to some, they are merely presented for spectacle, and don't entirely hint at a story that could even be considered coherent. My worry at this point is that Justice League will end up just being an overly long — just as boring as BvS — mess of a film.
So, how has it failed you? The DC catalogue has some of the most recognisable comic book characters in history. You ask anyone on the street who Batman is, whether they've read a comic or not, and they will probably be able to tell you a little bit about that character. How about Superman? Again, he's one of those characters that everybody knows, whether they're a comic book fan or not. DC has a history of great movie, and even TV, adaptations, so it's a crying shame that in this age, they're failing to properly utilise this vast cast of universally recognisable characters to craft a movie universe that should find it easy to demolish whatever Marvel has built. The fact that the DC line of movies is struggling, and now the fact that Warner are considering looking at making movies outside of the extended universe they are trying to establish, only further muddies the waters and is only bound to confuse the casual comic book fan and movie go-er.
DC is right to try and do things differently to Marvel, but in their attempt to do things differently, they've lost any true vision of what they actually want this project to be; and that is why they have failed you.