After Zak Snyder kicked off the DCEU with Man of Steel — which I think is an absolute masterpiece — Warner Bros. hit some major bumps in the road with Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, the latter of which was an ultimate misfire. It came as no surprise when it became public knowledge back in June of last year that WB was going to lighten up the tone in Justice League in response to the negative critical reception of BvS.
While promoting his new film Live by Night, Ben Affleck was asked about the experience of filming the upcoming Justice League and said the film is essentially a rebirth of cinematic universe telling HeyUGuys:
“It was great, and there’s a lot of changes and a lot of new stuff. There was a whole feeling of kind of ‘rebirth’ and there’s an exciting group of actors. You know, Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa and guys like that, so much fun, and Gal Gadot who’s great and Henry Cavill. It was a lot of fun.”
A total rebirth within the cinematic universe seems like going a bit too far and signals to me the committee in charge of executive decisions isn’t confident with their creative direction. After cutting corners and rushing to catch up to Marvel with BvS — rather than building out their universe to earn an experience like The Avengers —, my worry is that WB will now try to essentially mirror Marvels formula with their own films. I greatly appreciated that WB went for a more mature audience with BvS as opposed to the glossy popcorn flicks made for everyone by Marvel. Don’t get me wrong, I love Marvel movies. But what works for Marvel, works for Marvel and isn’t exactly going to work for DC.
Does DC need to lighten things up a bit? Absolutely. But it doesn’t need to dramatically alter the tone of their cinematic universe. Take, for instance, the video game masterpiece The Last of Us by Naughty Dog. The Last of Us was an incredibly heavy, dark, and emotional experience. While at the same time it possessed both hope and humor. That’s exactly what the DCEU needs and it already has the characters in place to achieve that. Superman can be the hope while The Flash can bring the humor. The DCEU can be as dark as it wants to be, WB just has to balance it out properly and rather than base their creative direction off of the response to their films, remain steadfast as they push through the growing pains of establishing a cinematic universe.