by John Paul
Black Panther, just grossed over a billion dollars worldwide and with Avengers: Infinity War just around the corner, the excitement to see Earth’s mightiest heroes face their biggest battle yet is astronomical. However it’s a different story for Marvel’s prime competitor, DC comics.
Ever since the divisive reception to 2013’s Man of Steel, Warner Bros. DC Extended Universe has been the subject of ridicule of longtime comic book fans and critics alike. So far, the only film of the franchise that has been an undisputed success both critically and financially was 2017’s Wonder Woman, which grossed $821 million worldwide and sports an impressive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. All the other films have either a mixed or negative reception.
Last fall’s Justice League was supposed to be the crowning moment of awesome for the DCEU, however WB’s past blunders with the franchise ultimately came back to bite them as audiences were alienated enough to not see the film in the massive numbers that was thought to have easily been pulled in by a movie of this caliber, thus leading Justice League to become a box office bomb.
So now the question at hand is just where does the DCEU go from here?
Well fans, critics, and film experts seem to go back and forth between two options: Keep trying to salvage the franchise or just do a hard reboot. Now I can see what where both sides are coming from. For the salvage side, the argument is that while the DCEU has had some notable shortcomings it would be a waste to do a reboot at this point because Warner Bros has already poured too much money and resources into this cinematic universe. Now see this I agree with heavily, not to mention is that some good things have come out of this franchise such as Patty Jenkins directing the Wonder Woman franchise which had an amazing first installment and the sequel looks really promising. Not to mention that there have been some positive early buzz for Aquaman and Shazam.
For the reboot side, the argument is that out of the five films that have been released so far, only one of them has been universally loved. Not to mention that a tentpole film such as Justice League bombing should be a clear sign that this franchise is far beyond the point of repair. Again, I can see where this side is coming from. Personally I feel that the DCEU shot itself in the foot the minute they decided to kill off Superman in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Now it’s not the idea of killing Superman was in itself a bad choice, as that’s one of the most crucial moments in the characters history. It’s more because Zack Snyder decided to kill him off in only the second film in the entire franchise is where the DCEU really began to go down hill.
For comparison, let’s say if the first threat the Avengers faced in their first film was Galactus. Just where the heck do you go from fighting a being that can destroy a planet with it’s bare hands? Not to mention that the big team up movie failed at the box office. If you would have told me ten years ago that a movie starring Thor would’ve made more money at the box office than a movie starring some of the most iconic superheroes of all time I would’ve thought you were insane, yet here we are. If the first Avengers movie bombed at the box office, it would’ve been curtains for the MCU as we know it. So the armor piercing question from the reboot side is why should the DCEU continue if it’s struggling to get people to care about it’s A-Listers aside from Wonder Woman.
For me, I think the solution lies in stand alone films, and by that I mean having the films not having to rely on the larger universe at hand. For instance, Black Panther extremely rarely referenced the larger MCU during it’s runtime and it stands strongly on it’s own merits. It is also worth noting that Wonder Woman also stands well enough on it’s own as well. In my eyes, from here on out DC should focus on making strong stand alone films and earn back the trust of audiences, then when they feel comfortable with it, try and have the characters team up in a much more cohesive and better written film. All people want is to simply see good movies, and that should be DC’s top priority right now.