I’ve been sitting on this for a long while. But with the general, “pfft...meh, whatevies...” reception to Justice League, well... I might as well put this out there before it’s all too irrelevant, y’know?
Now, I haven’t seen JL yet. There’s a lot of stuff happening in my life, and it will be quite some time before I DO see it- so this is entirely based off of the four films released this far. I also have terrible taste (for the internet). Despite any knowledge or insight I have into films/filmmaking/story telling/etc., I’m still just a layman when it comes to things I like.
Hustle & Flow, Crank, and Running Scared are some of my favorite films. I haven’t hated a single Terminator movie. I really enjoyed the first two Transformer films (despite reused footage). I think The Force Awakens is awesome, and there’s nothing redeemable about the prequels (throw ‘em into “Legends” and redo it). I never disliked a Mission Impossible movie until 5, and feel each sequel was better than the last (yeah, 2 is better than 1). I love Bad Boys 1&2 and The Island. I didn’t know Point Break was supposed to be enjoyed ironically.
You may physically gag when reading that, that’s ok. You may think all my opinions are null and void now, that’s alright too. I can almost guarantee I will catch shit for it- and I know I deserve it. But I just want YOU to know how low my bar for “good” is, because most everyone else seems to have much higher standards. I don’t want someone to come in with the wrong expectations.
Now that enthusiasms have been curbed, here’s my take on the DCEU films thus far (ranked best to worst):
Wonder Woman- Loved it. There’s this inherent ability for the film to somehow rise above even when it’s mediocre. A certain...je ne sais quoi...about every little moment that propels it. Great film, very minor flaws. All around great.
Man of Steel- I really like it. I don’t mind the snapping of Zod’s neck at all (and think Cavill played it beautifully). Two big highlights are the reaction to First Contact, and young Clark dealing with his abilities. I feel those were brilliantly captured. Could do more to make Supes heroic, but still pretty good.
Suicide Squad- ‘s okay. I don’t hate Leto’s Joker even though I despise Leto’s “method acting” (Troy Baker doing his Hamill would be amazing in a live-action film, though). I would really like to see the director’s cut. Truth be told, I would like to re-edit it (would rearrange so many scenes as-is). I really hate the music-every-scene, this-is-a-trailer vibe, and many things scattered about, but... Like I said, it’s ok. Just ok.
BvS: DoJ- Maaannn... *sigh* I could fill a whole ‘nother post with things that should be changed in this.
So Warner Bros.: What can you do to fix your Movie Universe? How can you be both different from Marvel yet on par? The only thing that matters for you is profit, and you know profits will fall if the films aren’t well received. So what do you do?
Some people would say to scrap it and start over. Hell, WB, are planning a soft reboot with the Flash film. I disagree. I think a few tweaks here & there would be enough to rival Disney. So here we go...
Zac Snyder sucks at writing/story/plot. Sucks. He has a super cynical, ultra dour outlook that pervades all. He has a good visual eye and can craft incredible moments, but he can’t link those moments together with anything that would be described as “good” (or sometimes even “decent”). Nobody should ever trust him to make story. Ever.
When he tried to make an “Alice-in-Wonderland story lead by a group of strong women”, he made Suckerpunch (a film about a teenager and group of women in a corrupt hospital, who imagine that they’re superheroes to cope with being forced to strip/dance...which itself is a fantasy to cope with being raped by Poe Dameron.)
Here’s an issue with the DCEU/DCCU/DFU/DCU/whatever: They don’t seem to have a story group or team of “Lore Masters” and subsequently rely on people like Zac Snyder and David Goyer to build a universe. Then they interfere heavily when they realise those geese don’t consistently lay golden eggs. Maybe I’m wrong, but this is what it looks like from the outside in. WB is flying by the seat of their pants and second-guessing everything.
Instead, I think they DO need to make the DC equivalent of Lucasfilm’s Story Group- the Lore Masters. Make a team headed by Geoff Johns, Bruce Timm, and Paul Dini. The DC Animated Universe is beloved, and for a reason. There are some ideas and beats that the DCEU seems to have lifted already, why not guarantee success by making the architects of the DCAU be the architects of the DCEU? (Especially since they’ve already done good Red Hood, Suicide Squad, and Supergirl films.)
They can then choose/hire more writers to work with. The job of the Lore Masters is to plot out the timeline broadstrokes, the important moments of the DCU’s past, present, and future. They also write the bios for the heroes- who they are, what they believe, etc. Writers for individual films can flesh the skeleton out (and make connective tissues to other films), and work with the Lore Masters for any changes.
Doing this will give a clear goal for the films going forward, and allow some to be set at different periods, without it ever seeming like it’s made up on the fly. We could have films set the past, present, and future(*cough*Batman Beyond*cough*). We could use Suicide Squad and a non-lame Legion of Doom (sans Luthor) to setup up future villains. The possibilities are nigh-limitless.
It also allows for my next point:
This is something you were supposed to be doing from the gate. And you did, until BvS didn’t come out perfect. But Zac Snyder’s directing isn’t why BvS sucked, as I’ve said. In fact, I think it’s far superior to Marvel’s Civil War...in that one aspect only. Want proof? Compare the “bombing a government building” scene in each film. BvS conveys much more through visual storytelling alone.
This is a lesson/idea that Marvel is beginning to embrace, but DC should have had from the gate. Allegedly, they even did (it’s how they scored Party Jenkins). The problem is DC/WB had no plans in place. So the people in charge of how a movie looks were now also in charge of shaping there story and even the whole universe, with Zac Snyder spearheading it all.
Now, there are plenty of good writer/directors out there. But not every director is a writer. If a Story Group existed as I outlined, then directors COULD be trusted to fullfill their visions because WB would know they can’t cause irreparable damage to plots, characters, or the universe itself.
I think it would be cool to see films that were stylistically distinct, yet linked by their stories. It makes no sense that a Cyborg or Flash film would look like a Batman movie. Hell, individual comics have different artists.
Being the studio that gives directors freedom could be a huge boon for both WB AND the public. Imagine a Booster Gold/Blue Beetle movie by Lord & Miller, or Edgar Wright’s Beastboy.
Remember Marvel OneShots? They were little short films that used to be included on BluRay. You know Pixar’s shorts that play before a movie? How about when Zac Snyder released a brief clip of Steppenwolfe online? Smoosh these ideas together.
Tiny short films.
This would be a fantastic way for DC to introduce lesser-known characters and future movies to filmgoers without straight up copying Marvel’s penchant for Post-Credits scenes.
They could have the shorts ( anywhere from 1-10min long, averaging at about 5) to play before their films.
These could be live action or animation. They could tease something important, or just be fun, stand alone stories. Shorts about upcoming villains or introductions for new JL/Titan members.
When it’s time for home release, the shorts can be uploaded to a special DCU YouTube channel.
I’m not saying that there should never be any post credits scenes, just that there should ALWAYS be these little stand alone clips. It would help DC differentiate themselves in a unique, yet pleasing, way. And Marvel will look foolish (for once).
DC kinda made a foolish decision when they decided to make their TV shows (Arrowverse) separate from their movies. If properly planned, they could have held important villains back (Deadshot, Deathstroke, etc.) and had a more tightly weaved media universe.
Characters like Green Arrow, Flash, and eventually Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl, could have all had television shows instead of movies/origins that were directly involved with/related to the films (as opposed to only being tangentially connected like MCU shows). They could’ve still introduced Supergirl- considering she’s technically already in the movie Universe- and have cameos/big events featuring the big three.
But that’s wishful thinking, and we can’t change the past. Going forward though, this could easily be fixed. Flashpoint. The shows have already showed that the Multiverse exists, now the films can. And whatever events occur in the Flashpoint movie, will alter the entire DCMU (which will be the name for the universe). Then they can pull in any parts they like, fix their Universe, and adapt current & future shows to be part of the film world...but create the possibility of Multiverse shows- and even movies.
Alright, that may not make much sense- I’ll admit, I half-baked this idea. I had two different, somewhat conflicting ideas and tried to smish them together into something coherent (kinda fitting for the subject matter). On the one hand, I think it should all be connected (films, tv, etc). On the other, I’ve always felt that none of it had be related- just stand alone films with different actors and creative teams.
Either way, figure out a path, and make it happen with Flashpoint.
I’ll try to keep this brief, but the red a lot to cover. Obviously creating a DC Lore Group (preferably with Bruce Timm & Paul Dini leading) is the most important step, but there are plenty of little things that bother me (as I’m sure they bother others) but aren’t important enough to turn into separate sections. So here we go:
-I don’t mind that they made a Millenial Lex Luthor. Nor does it bother me that he has a barely contained inferiority complex. What I DO have a problem with, however, is his instability, social awkwardness, and (Hollywood/Public’s idea of) Aspergers.
He should be intimidating because he’s intelligent and can keep the gears rolling on complex machinations, not because he might force feed me candy or serve me piss while waxing poetic about theology.
-Lex shouldn’t know the identity of every hero. Especially if he’s the background “Big Bad” (the Koch brothers to other villains’ Congress members)
-BvS tried have a montage of Superman being a “hero”. While “cool” moments, I want something more. Something better. This where DC could pull from the New52. I would like to see a “street-level” Superman, protecting citizens, like the original intention. He doesn’t need to be lame to be heroic, and he doesn’t have to do “BIG” deeds to awesome.
-Hold off on All-star Superman. As cool as it was, I don’t think Superman should have won against Batman so easily. Supes is strong, for sure, but he has never been in a fight- his technique is light years from Batman. Zod was the only time he fought without holding back. So maybe, deep down, Superman IS at All-star levels, he just hasn’t honed his skills enough to prove it.
-Just because the Nolan movies “didn’t worry about” if an attack would technically be fatal (and thus break Batman’s “code”) doesn’t mean you can go out of your way to show people clearly dying, Zack. Your Batman scene was amazing. Except for the blood-spatter, car full of humans, crushed truck guy, etc.
- If Batman picks up (or worse, uses) a gun, I better be in shock. It should feel wrong to watch.
-Michael Jai White was born to be the Green Lantern.
-I would love a noir Batman story. At the very least, gimme detective work.
*This post took too long to...well, post(I wrote it over a month ago.) Let’s just talk more in the comments.