It occurred to me as I sat down to write this article that I have been pretty biased when it comes to the superhero universes I love. When Marvel Universe movies come out, I quickly buy my tickets and actually put forth the effort to see it in theaters, something I don’t do for just any movie. As much as I have love for DC shows, the movies have easily been just “renters” for me. (I, of course, put renters in quotations because I buy them all on Blu-Ray/digital anyway) I don’t ever have a real strong need to see them on the big screen, though. Which got me to thinking, what isn’t working here?
I saw a meme on Facebook the other day, in which someone said they prefer Marvel movies over DC because they are too dark. The funny part being, they are actually visually too dark, and it seems to be the DC Extended Universe’s MO. If you take a look at the DCshows, they also fit that same formula of an almost “dark and brooding” atmosphere. But that couldn’t be the only reason why I couldn’t bring myself to put on real pants and drive down the street to the theater. So, after recently watching through all the recentDC Extended Universe movies, and even going back to the 1966 Batman, I compiled a list of four possible reasons why recent DC movies are failing to meet the mark.
Possible Need to Keep Up With Marvel
With the ever growing success of the MCU, it would be surprising if the DCEU execs didn’t feel the pressure to perform. The problem with this? They push out a bunch of half thought-out ideas and fans are just kind of left in the wake. But, who really suffers in these scenarios? It’s the characters, our heros, and the wonderful supporting characters that, dare I say it, the MCU has got down perfectly.
Speaking of Characters…
As mentioned above, the DCEU’s possible need to keep up with the trend, or whatever, has done our heros a great disservice. Take Suicide Squad for example, not even halfway through the movie I was almost, no actually, completely lost. Who was I supposed to care about? Why isn’t the Joker here? I’m pretty sure he was in all the promos. How many famous faces can you throw into a movie, and give them backstory, and make your viewers care about even one? That was next to impossible with this movie. Let’s just leave the epic crossover events to the pros. *cough cough MCU cough cough* But, going even further than that, it seems that there is very little substance to the DCEU movie characters, which is terrible. They deserve so much more. Please take the time to develop your characters … don’t have the time? You’ve got too many characters.
Lack of Relatability
One big difference I saw when comparing the MCU and DCEU characters is that DC lacks characters that are relatable. Not all heroes are born into it, not all are born with powers, not even all truly have powers. So, why is it so hard to relate to the DCEU characters? Maybe it’s because they tend to be too powerful. Maybe it’s because they are written to be such standoffish characters with very little in the way of personality building. I’ve heard this complaint from quite a few fans and even non-fans. I’ve heard the argument that Batman is the perfect relatable hero … because, obviously, we can all relate to being an orphaned billionaire playboy with a need for revenge.
If you take a look at DC shows, I’m sure you will find at least one character you can get on board with; just one character that speaks to you in some way, whether it be a main character or a supporting character. The DCEU has figured out the right formula for its shows. Granted, this may be an easier task due to the time restraints a movie has, but it seems to me, if you want to create a love for your movie, for your characters, for your universe, you’d try and figure out a way to get your audience to care about those beings you spend so much time writing. Not to once again dote upon Marvel, but something I mentioned in a previous article about Infinity War is how well the MCU writers are at “humanizing” the characters. Between the witty banter, comedic timing, and heart wrenching one-liners, these characters begin to feel like our friends, or our family even. We are then transported to that universe and that’s where the magic lies.
Lack of Direction
One thing is very clear, DC’s Extended Universe is basically a hodgepodge of what could be great ideas. In my imagination, I see a group of people sitting at a table in a boardroom, all shouting out ideas.
“Let’s add Aquaman, that’s exactly what this movie needs.”
“But, it’s based on Krypton.”
“Then, let’s add Supergirl.”
“What if we did …”
“Sure, add it in.”
“And what if we …”
“Great. Add about five more plot lines and we’ve got it!”
This is basically what happened with Suicide Squad, or at least that’s how I imagined it. While the DCEU has greatly succeeded in creating pretty solid and structured plotlines in their shows, they equally fail when it comes to their movies. I am not the only person who finished watching Man of Steel with that feeling of, “what now?” And then, that one dippy guy in the aforementioned boardroom chimes in with, “Oh, I know! Let’s put Batman and Superman in a movie together!”
“We should make them hate each other.”
“Perfect! Let’s pitch!” Or whatever the lingo is.
While I love a good creative concept, nothing is worse than an idea with no direction.
It seems to me that instead of two great cinematic universes, we have one great one and one kid sister trying so hard to fit into her big sister’s shoes. Maybe if DCEU took the time to pick just one good idea and nurtured it into a great idea, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing an article I never wanted to write. I hate writing negative things about the things I love. But, at the same time, the voice of fans is a strong thing and maybe with enough feedback coming their way, the DCEU will start taking a look at the way they do things. For now, I’ll be waiting, cautiously optimistic for what’s to come.
Featured image credit: DC Entertainment