As many eager fans finally got their Justice League fix (myself included) when the new trailer dropped a couple weeks ago, one question came to my mind, is DC trying to do too much right away to catch up to Marvel?
Most die hard DC fans will argue vehemently that DC is going to do everything better than Marvel ever could despite their recent critical setbacks. Those setbacks being Man of Steel, Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman, which garnered very poor reviews from critics and fans alike. While Man of Steel fared better with critics than the other 2 entries into the DCEU ( DC Extended Universe), it still did not garner the reception that was hoped for one of DC comics’ flagship characters. Many criticize Snyder’s portrayal as far too dark and gritty for a character that is supposed to rather cheerful and lighthearted. The main controversy surrounding Man of Steel was the finale when Clark, despite his best efforts to stop him, ended up having to kill Zod to save a family. This stray from the core of the character is what really set back the modern retelling of Superman from the classic view as depicted by Christopher Reeves. While there is no doubt that Henry Cavill looks like Clark Kent, he so far, has failed to capture the essence of the character.
Batman V Superman performed much better with fans than it did with critics. Using the classic Frank Miller story of The Dark Knight Returns as its main inspiration; it brought what many believe to be one of, if not the, best clash between the two titans of DC comics to the silver screen. Using a suit of armour specially designed to fight beings more powerful than himself, Batman took the fight to Superman on the rooftop of an abandoned warehouse in Gotham. With Wonder Woman joining the fray after Lex Luthor releases Doomsday, the two fighters put their differences aside in a very poorly executed reconciliation scene involving a Kryptonite spear and the word “Martha” . With the Trinity formed, it finally took the fight to evil and delivered a beat down in the name of justice. With Wonder Woman leading the charge it was a great spectacle to finally see the three pillars of DC comics working together on the big screen at last. That feeling was short lived as Superman sacrificed himself in a pointless scene to stop Doomsday. At the end of the film Bruce and Diana make a vow to find the “others like him” and unite them for a war that Brice believes is coming. Queue up every fan’s desire for a Justice League film.
The next installment of the DCEU was the critical bomb Suicide Squad. The movie, while fun to watch, was poorly put together and barely gave any back story on great characters such as Katana or Killer Croc, instead opting for the origin story of Harley Quinn and providing a lot of exposition into the reason why Deadshot does what he does. This script went through several re-writes before finally getting a good draft the director (David Ayer) was comfortable with. After finishing shooting, the final cut of the movie went through 7 re-cuts before the studio finally agreed to it. The re-cuts added more humour and made the movie less dark and gritty. The big problem besides the incoherent story and the incomprehensible villain, was the Joker. Jared Leto was cast as the Joker in the DCEU and his first appearance was to be in Suicide Squad. The make-up and characterization were different from anything previously done but it was pretty well executed for what it was. The main issue was that Leto was billed as one of the top cast members and all advertising had him as a central part of the film. The reality was that he clocked less than 20 minutes of screen time in the final cut and most of his scenes were little more than filler for the main story. The highlight of the movie was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Jay Hernandez as El Diablo. They both stole every scene they were in with most of the movie focusing on Harley and her relationship with the Joker. The after credit scene for the movie shows Bruce Wayne meeting the leader of Task Force X ( The Suicide Squad) and receiving a folder on other known meta-humans. The folder opens to show profiles of some of the members of the Suicide Squad as well as Flash and Aquaman.
The teaser for the Justice League that we got shortly before Christmas was definitely a great tease, and got enough people interested that the wait for the actual first trailer was excruciating. The trailer finally dropped and the internet exploded with overwhelming positive feedback. It’s worth noting that after the critical failures of their first 2 outings, DC comics recruited chief creative mind Geoff Johns to help re-write the Justice League script and to co-write all future DCEU scripts. The trailer offered enough exposition to get fans interested in the story with enough tiny Easter eggs to get die hard comics fans like myself, keys to future movies as well as potential plot points. The main criticism that most fans are worried about is that putting all these awesome characters together without establishing each of them could lead to a very convoluted plot.
Everyone is familiar with the MCU ( Marvel Cinematic Universe), whether they are a fan of Marvel comics or not. The massive success that the MCU has received is in no small part to their meticulous planning. Beginning with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in 2008, Marvel teased nods to various heroes that would eventually make up their Avengers roster. Marvel also established each of their characters in their own solo film before bringing them together for the first Avengers movie in 2012. This method of teasing a little bit of information every time a new movie comes out helps to ensure that fans will keep coming back for more. The main criticism Marvel has received in relation to their movies is that they are all cookie cutter copies of one another. Which can be understandable when dealing with origin stories, but that is a topic for another time… back to the Justice League.
The Justice League will bring together Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Superman, and another mystery hero (presumably Green Lantern). The problem is that with all these heroes their supporting characters there is going to be way too many moving parts to keep the plot going forward. Already eagle eyed fans have spotted what could be a teaser to Hawkman and Hawkgirl as well as references to a greater Bat family and the introduction of the Green Lantern; and all this was done with one teaser trailer and one four minute official trailer. Call me skeptical but I think this movie is going to make or break the entire franchise. If this movies bombs, DC is likely to pull it’s future movies and try to salvage what they can with the rest of the films already in production. I want this movie to succeed but given the track record of what DC comics has released so far… I’m not holding my breath.