It’s useless to pretend otherwise. The DC Extended Universe, Warner Bros’ answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has extremely (and brilliantly) failed.
Justice League has made less money than Black Panther. Suicide Squad is almost universally considered to be one of the worst movies ever made. Justice League, DCEU’s The Avengers, is so generic and personality-less is annoying. Wonder Woman was the only good production until they decided to make it what it wasn’t – a piece about feminism.
It’s yesterday’s news that Joss Whedon exited Batgirl – saying that he simply didn’t have a story.
Of course, hardcore DC Fans rejoice. It goes without saying they have no clue why.
Sure, Justice League had some Whedon moments, but Tsujihara and Warner asked him to make the film more in line with his style.
They also are happy because they defined sexist a 2006 script of Wonder Woman by Joss. If you read it, it’s not sexist at all, but it’s fashionable as of late to take things out of context and label them as ‘sexist’.
Those same fans rejoice when new DC Films president Hamada said he wants a woman to direct Batgirl – despite choosing a director because of gender and not the ability is the definition of ‘sexism’.
But anyways, enough with this.
Let’s start by saying, once again, that Warner Bros completely failed in valuing their own DC properties, especially when compared to Marvel Studios hits.
What is obvious is also the complete failure of the initial proclamation about the shared universe: ‘This will be the filmmakers’ franchise’.
In hindsight, we’d say ‘LOLZ’.
The biggest mistake was not to stick to it. As I noted in previous posts, Marvel Studios stick to the plan despite just two out of five movies leading to the sixth (The Avengers) were profitable.
Warner instead kept trying to adjust the mark. Man of Steel was ok, while Batman v Superman massacred by critics and part of the fanbase, despite showing some proper style (visually, not really in the script). Because of BvS, Warner decided to ‘fix’ Suicide Squad, leading to an even worse movie. Then they left Wonder Woman alone, and it was pretty good (despite all the forced feminist concepts). Justice League was bad, because, again, Warner wanted to ‘fix’ it.
Reacting to the public is never a good tactic, at least not constantly. And ”react & fix’ became the rule rather than the exception.
The will to also be ‘different’ from competition and previous installment of the same property also backfired.
The reason why The Avengers works so well narratively is that we already knew the character. Justice League instead wants us to like Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman despite we never met them before – and forces them to be a key part of the story.
Having an older Batman rather than a ‘young’ one for the sake of difference backfired because you needed to establish already Batman’s life, which made it way more complicated to introduce sidekicks such as Nightwing (where was he in BvS and Justice League?) and Batgirl (such an old Bruce Wayne would never risk a young person’s life on the field). Bear in mind: I know that the reason they went with the older Batman is to bate the fanboys of The Dark Knight Returns – actually, that was the goal of Snyder, who was and perhaps still convinced that’s an actual example of Batman (while it is not).
Also, having the Flashpoint storyline as the first Flash standalone film. The reason why X-Men: Days of Future Past worked so well is that we met two realities: the past one (First Class) and the original trilogy’s. We knew the characters and their normality. We don’t know Barry’s normality. So, while the film could still turn up to be entertaining, the whole estranging feeling when thrown to an alternate reality will be completely missing.
It’s pretty sure to say Whedon left Batgirl for the simple fact he didn’t want to deal with, well, the bullshit described above. Sure, you can give the benefit of the doubt, but when you previously worked for a company that programmed its slate 5 years in advance and tried to stick to it as much as it could, it’s hard to go back to ‘random’.
Now, even in the case, Aquaman will turn up to be awesome, or even Shazam (please), I honestly think the whole franchise must reboot, or at very least soft reboot.
The storylines are meaningless, apart from a handful of characters most of them have no personality nor are interesting, completely mismanagement of the material, listening to the wrong people… I mean, why they should continue on this path?
A clean slate could mean a completely new take on everything, even though that would imply to trash Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince and Ezra Miller’s The Flash. A soft reboot would mean to keep the actors you want but at the same time less space for reinvention.
We’ll see what they’ll decide.
One thing for sure: by the time Avengers: Infinity War was out, we wanted to see the DC properties to be at least as brilliant as Marvel’s.
Instead, they’re basically the ‘what not to do’ of the shared universes.