Warner Bros. recently had a shareholder’s meeting where the company revealed a six-year plan for all its DC-based films, as IGN reported that the lineup will be as follows:
- “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” directed by Zack Snyder (2016)
“Suicide Squad,” directed by David Ayer (2016)
“Wonder Woman,” starring Gal Gadot (2017)
“Justice League Part One,” directed by Zack Snyder, with Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Amy Adams (2017)
“The Flash,” starring Ezra Miller (2018)
“Aquaman,” starring Jason Momoa (2018)
“Justice League Part Two,” directed by Zack Snyder (2019)
“Cyborg,” starring Ray Fisher (2020)
“Green Lantern” (2020)
Let me preface this piece by assuring everyone that I am indeed a comic book and comic book movie fan. I love the Nolanverse Batman films, it was the 2011 Green Lantern film that got me into comics (shut up), and there are a lot of comic movies I’m truly excited for. Sadly, the majority of DC’s upcoming films aren’t on my list.
There has been a lot of back-and-forth between fans of both DC and Marvel about which company is doing “better” with their on-screen adaptations. While both sides have valid points, it’s not so much about DC against Marvel as it is about DC just not knowing where it’s going.
I’ll be the first to admit that DC has done some wonderful things (the animated Batman, Green Lantern, and Justice League series, Teen Titans, Young Justice, the Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan Batman films, Arrow and The Flash on The CW) and now has Constantine on NBC, but when it comes to their feature films, they simply don’t know what they’re doing as a whole.
DC seems hellbent on sticking to two things: 1) doing the opposite of whatever Marvel is doing with their films, and 2) removing all the fun from their movies in favor of dark, gritty “realism”. True, DC can’t really be seen as “copying” Marvel in terms of building their own cinematic universe, but the way they’re going about it is just mindboggling.
In the forthcoming films, only the Kal-El/Clark Kent from Man of Steel (who, curiously, was only referred to as a “super man” by a background character; no other mention of the familiar title was given) will be crossing over into the rebooted, cohesive universe. Which means that an ensemble movie is coming first (Batman v. Superman), then individual films for those appearing characters. Uhh…then we fans had better be getting a lot of backstory and explanation for these new-to-screen characters (read: Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, etc) since none of them are getting origin flicks beforehand. The beauty of team-up movies is that the audience has the opportunity to watch each character in their own element, in their own worlds, before being thrown together for one reason or another. As of now, it seems like we’re not getting that opportunity. We’re going to have to put A LOT of trust in these characters (and their writers and actors) to believe that they can even function in the same vicinity, let alone work together as a team.
And not only that! But we’re getting ANOTHER team film with characters that aren’t getting any prior backstory: Suicide Squad. Soooo…how is this going to fit into the new DCU again?
Besides Harley Quinn, how many characters do you recognize without having read the comic? I’ll wait…
Aside from the baffling handling of the release order of these new movies, the other cause for concern is that DC seems to just want to suck the fun out of everything it touches now in favor of making everything more foreboding, more depressing, and more like a trip to a theater in a war museum than actual entertainment (although some of those films are pretty awesome if you’re in the right mood for them). Don’t get me wrong; Nolan’s Batman films did this, but coming from him (and given Batman’s overall darker atmosphere and tone), they worked.
But overall, not a single one of these movies sounds like a fun time. Sure, they’ll probably be all kinds of epic and have some amazing fight scenes and effects. But what about the “fun” factor? Will these be movies fans will want to watch over and over again? Or will they be the kind that are watched two or three times, then left to gather dust on the shelf? Will fans walk out of the theaters spazzing about how great it was, or will they leave feeling mentally drained and even a little depressed from the heaviness? Chances are high that very few (if any) of these movies are going to be fun in any way.
With all that said, there is a bit of hope mixed in with all my reservations: the Aquaman solo flick and the Green Lantern reboot (go ahead, get all your jabs at the Ryan Reynolds fiasco out of the way). Aquaman has long been the butt of jokes among comics fans; his appearances in the Superfriends cartoon didn’t help his image either. But let’s face facts: Arthur Curry is easily one of the most underestimated characters in all of DC. Some just refuse to see his awesomeness because of the jokes about him on Family Guy and Robot Chicken. And the fact that Jason Momoa, a man of mixed race with Native Hawaiian on his father’s side, has been cast to portray him is a bold, smart, and golden decision.
As for Green Lantern, well…alright. Look, I’ll admit it: i enjoyed the Ryan Reynolds one. It’s what got me into reading comics, but especially GL. There is so much complexity, humor, and sheer joy in those pages that struck a chord with me. As long as whomever is writing and/or directing this new one doesn’t try to turn whichever Lantern will be featured (let’s face it, it’s more than likely going to be Hal Jordan) into a light version of Batman with soul-crippling baggage, then I’ll be happy.
All in all, DC seems to just not understand its fanbase anymore. Yes, comic book and comic book movie fans do crave more intelligent pieces than the simple “bad guy vs. good guy” fare, but not at the cost of being entertained. It’s still too early to say definitively whether or not all of these movies will be as unenjoyable as I and many others fear, but as of this writing, this lineup was met not with a booming “YAAAAY!!!” but a resounding “meh”.