After Christopher Nolan’s wildly successful “Dark Knight” trilogy came to a close, DC has been struggling to keep up with the world of comic movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe being the obvious frontrunner.
Starting with the release of “Man of Steel,” in 2013, DC has been hastily forming their own cinematic universe, DCEU, building up a gritty team of heroes akin to Marvel’s Avengers. From the very start, however, DC was met with fan outrage and critical shame. In the eyes of the fans, all hope seemed to be lost after the critical flops of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.”
Over the summer of 2017, however, DC surprised the world with “Wonder Woman,” the first installment in the DCEU that left both casual fans and comic connoisseurs satisfied. Many believed that the franchise was taking a turn for the better, and that the film marked the beginning of a new, bright era for the DCEU. After the release of “Justice League,” however, many fans are once again convinced that there is no hope for the series.
The newest film in the universe, which was meant to be a milestone for the franchise, has been criticized for its scattered plot, excessive use of CGI and poor acting: all of the same remarks that were made of DC’s previous Hollywood flops. The film did contain some impressive action sequences, especially involving Wonder Woman and The Flash, but they weren’t enough to save the film from falling into the gritty abyss that the previous movies dug.
DC comics are near and dear to my heart. I grew up with the franchise, watching the animated “Batman” and “Justice League” shows. Above all, I loved the original “Teen Titans” series. The show depicted an amazing group of teenage superheroes who kicked butt, while having deep personal character developments. Based on this nostalgia, DC has always beat out Marvel in my books. I loved Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy and I was ecstatic when the new DC film universe was announced. I was finally going to see the heroes I grew up with on the big screen, in live action. Then I saw the movies.
“Man of Steel” wasn’t that big of a letdown, but I’ve always been somewhat impartial to Superman anyway. I was fairly optimistic with the casting choice of Ben Affleck as Batman in “Dawn of Justice.” When the movie was finally released, I left the theater with mixed feelings. There were certainly good parts of the film, but it was mostly bad, particularly the storyline and Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor.
Then I saw “Suicide Squad,” and I was extremely disappointed with it. The only good part of the movie was its soundtrack.
I was hopeful for “Wonder Woman,” and I was not left disappointed in the least. I left the theater with a re-found sense of hope for “Justice League” and the DCEU.
If done right, “Justice League” should have done for DC what “The Avengers” did for Marvel. It was meant to be the first staple of the franchise: a fresh glimpse at the future of the universe. The film was even directed by Joss Whedon, the same man who directed Marvel’s “The Avengers.” After the success of “Wonder Woman,” DC had a real shot of saving their cinematic universe with their new release. They didn’t.
The heroes of the film fall completely flat, contrasted with the sheer intensity of the CGI universe that they’re placed in. Even the brilliant Gal Gadot couldn’t save the film from the awful portrayals of Batman and Superman. The additions of Aquaman, The Flash and Cybord, while fun, don’t add much to the already-scattered storyline.
The DCEU’s upcoming standalone films look promising, with the Aquaman film already in the works. At the helm is James Wan, one of the world’s most renowned horror directors. This will give the notoriously wimpy hero a darker twist. Batman’s solo movie is also undergoing production, with “Cloverfield’s” Matt Reeves both writing and directing. “Wonder Woman 2” has already been announced, holding on to the same director as the first film, Patty Jenkins.
“Justice League” has left fans with little confidence in the DCEU. There is a glimmer of hope remaining, it’s just not Superman.