Is the MonsterVerse the example to follow for the DC Extended Universe?
ATTENTION: Spoilers regarding Batman v Superman are in the article. Beware, if you need to.
Yesterday I finally had the chance to watch Kong: Skull Island, and, if you read my review, it was an awesome thrill ride.
As you know the movie serve as a prequel to 2014 Godzilla, and both set up the extended universe produced by Legendary (and distributed by Warner Bros) known as MonsterVerse. If you don’t believe that’s the name, in case you didn’t catch up with the news in the past year or so. There’s even a logo.
Both movie establish Kong and Godzilla as good guys, as guardians. If you’re asking what will be the reason for their smackdown they’re going to have in 2020 in a movie enigmatically called Godzilla vs Kong, well they’re still animals. So it will be dominance. In Kong‘s post credit scene we also get a tease to what will be the common enemies. Or they’ll have a Martha twist. Godzilla about to kill Kong with his atomic breath, and then ‘They’re gonna kill Martha!’ – ‘What did you say? WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?!?!?!’. Or Mothra, one of the kaiju (aka monsters, for the ones who still are ignorant that this universe is based on old Gojira Japanese films) the two guys are going to fight against, sooner or later. And, yeah it is teased in the post credit scene.
Anyways, the two movies are not perfect. Especially Godzilla. While Kong is fun, the movie portraying the Japanese monster is tedious when shows us what happens to human characters. The Humans screentime is in fact considerably high while not really relevant to the story. That said, the monster itself was awesome. While I ended up not enjoying the movie as much as I wished, I really wanted more Godzilla. Looking around the internet, this was pretty much the universal reaction to the movie. Kong, while also not offering great characters, was more focused on saying: ‘Look at this Kong! Isn’t he awesome?’ They clearly succeeded.
Here’s where the point of the article really starts, though. We are three movies in the DC Extended Universe (even though Man of Steel was suspiciously part of the NolanVerse), and, besides having debatable screenplays that take themselves way too seriously considering what all climaxes were about, people didn’t totally buy in the characters.
While Superman never enjoyed a huge consensus, the Zack Snyder 2013 reboot was suppose to be the turning point. Yet, by over ‘darking’ the character who’s constantly paranoying about his powers, people started not buying in. The decision of killing off the character, even though just temporarily, in Batman v Superman didn’t actually served the purpose the filmmakers had in mind, since the fight was Doomsday against a human and what appeared to be a sadistic goddess who didn’t fight for a very long time. I mean, it was the only choice because there was no fight possible. If it was happening during a Justice League movie, where Doomsday was taking down all the members, then Clark’s sacrifice would have been more significant.
Regarding Ben Affleck’s Batman, it sparked a controversy among fans. While it’s faithful to the modern comic book iteration, the fact he was tricked into fighting Superman by Lex Luthor made him look not as intelligent as he should be. Plus, the fact that the audience generally never like Ben affleck as an actor surely have impacted the opinion.
The only character from Batman v Superman that is savable is Wonder Woman, who anyways has her final judgement postponed to June of this year. Yet, we sincerely left the movie wanting more from the character. And the character’s theme song (seriously, it’s awesome).
Should we talk about Suicide Squad? No, we shouldn’t, even if we consider all the mess behind the production, or, better, post-production.
Anyways, the DC Extended Universe started with the wrong step. While it was somewhat visually appealing, the movies are literally a mess. Too much on the grill, ending up with no food properly cooked.
What both Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla showed us is that less is better. There’s not much plot going on, and, even when it’s not that relevant to the story, it’s easy to follow and we never are confused about it or even its intent (showing the influence of human/monster interaction).
In comparison, Batman v Superman has a whole Lois Lane subplot which ultimate goal is to say ‘Lex did it’. It is as useless as it sounds: if you totally take out those scenes, the movie flows better as it focus only on the two tile characters.
In both the monster movies we have characters who are just trying to survive, hence having the action focusing more on the two kaijus. Yet, in the DCEU seems there’s a need to have all major characters do something relevant to influence the plot, almost regardless to the movie effective entertainment.
Before you say anything, I know: writing a movie with monsters fighting other monsters is somewhat easier as there’s not much expectation going into this movies. However, the 2016 showdown between the two heroes revolved around taking wrong choices on how to advance the plot. Open the movie with yet again another Waynes murder scene, Lex tricking Batman and not asking Batman for help, the useless Lois subplot, having easter eggs as key plot points, Batman and Superman not fighting because of different ideologies, the reason why they stop fighting, taking on terrorism and existentialism but ending up with a CGI Doomsday fighting the DC Trinity. Don’t get me wrong, the fight was awesome, but they set up the movie for something way more serious.
Warner Bros presented the DCEU as a filmmaker driven universe, yet every single movie they sabotaged the directors.
With the MonsterVerse, perhaps thanks to Legendary actually producing the films, they are pushing for a simplistic yet visually engaging franchise. Is this the model the DCEU should follow? Or maybe the only things missing at the superhero franchise is Legendary itself?
Featured Image credit: matthewpetz.deviantart.com