DC Comics have so much potential in their universe to have amazing movies made about their most famous characters. Some have already graced our screens like 1989’s Batman or Christopher Reeve’s first outing as Superman in 1978 and of course the jaw-dropping Nolan-verse Batman Trilogy. But DC can’t survive off the Nolan-verse and others alone. Their current crop of movies have been somewhere stuck between awful and embarrassing. With a whole crop of movies fast approaching here is 8 ways to fix the DC Extended Universe:
- Slow Down – Marvel has done wonders establishing their characters and their origins and their motivations. Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow all have intensive back stories that we know and understand. The newest incarnation of Batman has no background other than in BvS he is simply the Batman. We see his parents die but that’s about it. The smaller stories of how these characters became who they are is far more intriguing than fighting monsters in the middle of Gotham Bay. Smaller more meaningful stories with our characters fighting evils that affect them rather than the fate of the world are what builds character. Marvel’s Deadpool is a fantastic example of this. The outcome of that film doesn’t mean the destruction of the city or the world, but simply the death or safe return of a loved one. We care more for characters in these realistic smaller scenarios than in bigger ones and it certainly makes us grow with them as their trials become bigger as we progress throughout the franchise. In the Iron Man movies, the threats he faces gradually become bigger, than rather in BvS straight away pummeling the Man of Steel in the face.
- Get Better Bad Guys – If you’ve read my review for Doctor Strange you’ll see my hatred of the Marvel villains but DC also haven’t seemed to have cracked the villain code. Lets take a look: Enchantress in Suicide Squad was an interesting premise, an ancient evil locked away for thousands of years with a hatred of humans. But her use of the generic villain sky-beam doomsday weapon makes her another dry villain who we couldn’t care if she gets beat up or not. Jesse Eisenberg’s laughable portrayal of Lex Luthor is a shadow of what the character is, a frightening adversary who has no powers but is vastly wealthy, intelligent and god damn evil. The convoluted plan concocted by Lex in Batman vs Superman was hard to follow and frankly boring and made no sense even when written down. Even Bane in The Dark Knight Rises plan was to terrorise a city for three months only for it to be obliterated by a nuclear bomb. What’s the point? Can we please have a new Lex Luthor? Or maybe a bad ass Deathstroke? What about Steppenwolf, will he be as laughable as Eisenberg’s Luthor? We’ve already seen Steppenwolf in the extended edition aboard Zod’s ship so we know he’s in the works. The one villain I want to really slate was Jared Leto’s Joker. He was the biggest piece of s**t to grace the green hair of the crown prince of crime. He officially ruined the most iconic villain in comic book history. Don’t get me wrong, following Heath Ledger’s performance will be a tough act to follow but Leto’s efforts were so poor. The lead up to Suicide Squad reported about Leto’s absurd method acting and frankly he should have spent more time on his role and less time sending used condoms to his co-stars. If they don’t recast The Joker for DC’s next film I want riots in the street. DC have a chance to beat Marvel if they make their bad guys great. Focus on evil but simple to understand acts that’ll shock your audience. The Joker in the Love Tunnel in the comic The Dark Knight Returns or the joker’s actions in the Killing Joke are just examples of ways of really have a terrifying foe for your heroes to face.
- Less Disaster Porn – Who remembers going into Man of Steel and coming out of the cinema not only disappointed, but severely depressed? Oh good not just me! Man of Steel brought about our greatest fears of urban terrorism to the big screen in their summer blockbuster back in 2013. It had the once campy alien hero destroying half of Metropolis and killing thousands. Yes he needed to destroy Zod and its his first mission but it looked like something out of a Roland Emmerich Movie. Honestly, I thought I was watching 2012 at one point. Movies have become so focused on Disaster Porn that they’ve forgotten that this doesn’t frighten or excite audiences anymore. Olympus and London has Fallen, Independence Day 2, X-Men Apocalypse, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, San Andreas the list of movies were cities and countries and even the whole planet getting destroyed in the last five years is enormous. This isn’t a superhero movie kind of thing and it certainly isn’t entertaining anymore. Yes, BvS had to justify it with Bruce Wayne sprinting to save children in the rubble and thus starting his hatred for the destructive Superman but honestly, it shouldn’t be in the movie altogether. The upcoming Wonder Woman’s destruction looks to highlight the horrors of WWI and that is exciting. What’s not is seeing Superman throw his enemies into an iHop filled with people. These are meant to be heroes or at least non-murdering likeable heroes.
- Let the director direct, Don’t hire a director then take control – When I heard Josh Trank was going to be directing an edgy, horror style Fantastic 4 film, I was pumped. Then the studio swooped in and tore it apart and it bombed. The same happened with DC’s Suicide Squad. There were around six or seven cuts of the movie, with a trailer house having been brought into make their own versions of the movie. What started out as a dark and gritty adaptation had to be chopped and changed to add more humour off the back of the success of Marvel’s Deadpool which changed the superhero genre. They then reshot the final act to make it more action packed. The movie’s script was only written within six weeks! You can tell the movie was a mess from the multiple cuts due to the overly packed soundtrack (although I’ll come onto that momentarily). What I am trying to say is that when you hire a director, especially one with a certain vision or goal, let them do their thing and support them in the best way that you can. Don’t just take control like a spoilt child. If you want a director who’ll ben over to your every whim, go hire Brett Ratner.
- Sort out the Soundtrack, less pop songs – Oh Suicide Squad what you could have been…We go from “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals to “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore to “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones to “Standing in the Rain” by Mark Ronson to “Super Freak” By Rick James. And that’s just the beginning few minutes! This film is a clunky mess. The music isn’t even subtle it is mostly over the actual dialogue. It reminded me of creating your first ever short film in A level Media Studies. Obviously, this comes off the back of multiple accounts of studio interference. However, This honestly took me out of the movie and disinterested me entirely when watching it. And that is just because of the soundtrack alone. Sort. It. Out.
- Keep Zach Snyder away from directing and writing, BUT keep him onboard for cinematography – 300 (2006) is a visually stunning masterpiece that should be every guys secret favourite film. Zach Snyder’s beautifully rendered masterpiece and its lesser sequel are considered works of cinematography art by many. But just because you make one amazing movie doesn’t mean you should have the right to make one of comic book fandom’s biggest dreams: The fight between the caped crusader and the Son of Krypton. You’d think after ruining Watchmen, the studio wouldn’t let Snyder touch another comic book movie for miles around. But no. He did and it was awful. It was actually Snyder who convinced Christopher Nolan to make Superman kill General Zod in MoS. In what universe does Zach Snyder have power to convict Christopher Nolan of anything? Snyder is a visual master. Keep him on board and give him a cinematography role. Make him help write but do not let him near the writing process or we’ll end up with the infamous ending of BvS…
- Make the stories believable, no more of this “Save Martha” Crap – This is what happens when you let Snyder write. One of the most anticipated fights in comic movie history and they stop and join forces because their mums have the same names. Seriously…WHAT?! Batman we all know you have parenting issues after your family got killed and Superman we all know you never really knew your parents…but this is just ridiculous. When I watched it the first time around in the cinema, I actually laughed so hard I needed my inhaler. That’s how dumb that was. When I say make the stories believable, I mean make it so that they fight for the right reasons, make it so that they stop for the right reasons like maybe they put their differences aside to defeat Doomsday but still don’t trust each other? Rather than just forget they hate each other after 5 seconds because their mums have the same name. Obviously it is a comic book movie so fiction is rife, but Nolan proved you can have a superhero movie that is also realistic and damn frightening as well.
- Sort your tone out – Everyone can agree that Zach Snyder is the right man to make a Batman film. For all of BvS’s failures that warehouse fight scene was epic and really showed how dark the batman should be. Keep this dark tone for the solo Batman movie. Conversely, Make Superman lighter. We’ve seen his mopey side in a dark and gritty movie where he snaps the neck of his adversary. Now lighten his character as he learns the realisation of morality. Don’t lighten him to the point of campy like Christopher Reeve’s Superman, but certainly make him smile once in a while. Marvel knows it’s tone. It is a combination of playful and humorous whilst at the same time being serious when it needs to be. Compare this to the DC Universe where, so far everything has been about darkness; brooding; moping; dreaming; death and destruction. Sort your tone out and make it fit each specific character and then incorporate a general tone for your team up movies rather than just “screw it…dark it is.” Take a leaf out of the DC animated films. They are some of the best depictions of Superheroes on any screen.
After multiple flops and an embarrassing 2016 to forget, DC has a chance to turn 2017 and onwards into their time to shine. By using my 8 steps, It can once again compete with the gargantuan market leaders Marvel and destroy the competition more than Superman destroys buildings in their movies.