I’ve noticed a trend with Warner Bros. and how they’ve been talking up their post Bats V Supes superhero movies. The latest Suicide Squad trailer was greatly received after the tone was changed to a much more fun and comical one, immediately followed by reshoots for the movie itself. Of course David Ayer has stated that the reshoots are for more action and not for more “fun”. That paired with James Wan making it a point to state that his take on Aquaman will also be more “fun”, it seems that the lesson they’ve learned from the critical failure of Batman V Superman is that it wasn’t fun enough. While that’s a point of view I can certainly agree with, a lack of fun is the least of the DC cinematic universe’s problems.
I’ve briefly mentioned my issues towards the film in a previous article, but I didn’t take the time to expand upon those issues. Frankly, doing so would be entire article unto itself. To quickly elaborate: the movie covers very familiar ground in the “Blank vs. Blank” sub-genre of superhero stories and does so considerably worse than most other modern examples. It feels less like the character driven narrative it was probably aiming for and more like a poorly executed excuse to sell future DC movies. Marvel has the decency to put their marketing teasers somewhere in the the post credits; in a place that doesn’t hinder the actual story of that movie, but Batman v Superman is ok with ploping their little trailers right in the middle of the plot. The point is, there are issues that should be tackled before we even start trying to make it fun, and Warner Bros. probably won’t even realize that.
It’s a perfect little microcosm of a lot the problems with the movie industry. Hollywood operates on circular logic and self-fulfilling prophecies. If the movie was successful, it was because of “A”; if it was not successful, it was clearly because of “B, C or D” because “A” is always the right way to go. They saw that the dark tone of Nolan’s Batman trilogy was incredibly popular with both critics and average movie goers alike and have made that their primary draw for other DC comics movies. The one time they didn’t do that was with Green Lantern, and everyone hated that movie. So of course Man of Steel was going to be darker than any other Superman movie. Batman movies were successful because of “A”, so we will put “A” in Superman movies.
Man of Steel was as equally un-fun as Batman V Superman, but it was received much better critically. Because it didn’t technically fail Warner Bros. felt they didn’t need to change their game plan. Now that “A” has failed them, they’re in a desperate search to find a new “A”. There are so many things that could have been changed that would have made the movie better with making it more fun necessarily being one of them. I think that Warner Bros. needs to take a lesson from Disney and Marvel Studios. From day one, Marvel has been very bold with their choices in projects. When other studies were making X-Men and Spider Man movies that didn’t stray to far away from previous successes, Marvel had the audacity to put out a movie with a violent talking raccoon and tree monster fighting space terrorists. If the DC Cinematic Universe is going to work, Warner Bros. is going to have to get bold and start going against the rules that they have written for themselves.