How do you save a mess like the DC Cinemati Universe? Join ScreenCritics Adam as he offers his opinion on how to save Warner’s sinking universe.
Oh dear, it’s not going very well for DC is it? Much like Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad had poor reviews and a great weekend, seemingly showing a complete disconnect between fans and critics. But like BvS, Suicide Squad has suffered a steep decline of 67% in its second weekend, showing that both the word of mouth isn’t very good and people aren’t coming back.
Despite positive reception for the trailers of Wonder Woman and Justice League, people are now wondering if they may end up being the same. After all, Suicide Squad had a fantastic trailer which is probably better than the film. DC now have no trust from their fans and the public, and that could lead to disaster. But Geoff Johns, I am here to save you as I’ve got a five point plan to help you make the DC Extended Universe as good as that other one. You know, the one with Iron Man and Thor.
1. Pick a tone and stick to it
The biggest flaw of Suicide Squad was the tone, with the film flitting from dark broodiness to silliness like it was nothing. BvS was also guilty of this to a certain extent. So my advice is that when in pre-production of a film, decide on the tone and don’t waver.
I get that people moan about your films being dark, but that’s just because Marvel are offering very good lighter hearted films. When The Dark Knight was everyone’s favourite superhero film, everyone wanted dark and brooding and it was only because Marvel were confident in what they were doing they were able to change the public mood.
So if David Ayer wanted to make a dark Suicide Squad film, let him. There was certainly the material there to do it, and it could have had a really powerful movie. However you did a trailer nothing like the film, got shocked that people liked that and changed the film to suit that and it simply didn’t work.
2. Actually, just don’t be Marvel
Marvel Films have had eight years of trying to be Marvel Films, so they are actually pretty good at it. DC, you haven’t been Marvel, and people like your comics for different reasons than they like Marvel comics, so don’t copy them. Do your own thing.
Because when you copy Marvel, everyone will realise what you are trying to do and you’ll be seen as second-rate. Of course you can learn from them, what did they will and where they made mistakes, but don’t just think that adding a few witty lines and adding some colour to your films will fix everything. It won’t and it could end up putting off the ardent fans who have for some reason been insanely passionate about the stuff you’ve done already. You are DC, so be the best damned DC you can be.
3. Be a playground for visionary directors
Marvel’s biggest flaw is that they have a very tight formula and restrictions for their creative minds. Certain things have to happen and certain characters need to be in place in this film or the whole big plan falls down. This had led to them clasping heads with their talented directors, with Age of Ultron almost killing Joss Whedon and Ant-Man kicking Edgar Wright to the kerb.
This is where DC can be different. Tell big directors to come to your universe and have fun with the characters. No big plan, other than a film needs to be released on that date and it has to have the character that’s on the title in the film. So then you could have the biggest directorial names in Hollywood trying to make something unique with these iconic characters, which would make DC fresh compared to the other companies.
DC have shown a willingness to do this. James Wan was certainly an interesting choice for Aquaman and Ben Affleck is one of the best directors in the world right now, so his Batman film should be excellent. So get more of these creative minds and let them loose!
4. But you know, stay true to the original characters
Ok, so this may seem in conflict to the above one where I tell DC to let directors get creative, but there is a reason why people love these characters. People look to Superman for hope, and people look to Batman because he’s awesome, despite the fact he never has a gun. So when you make a Superman film where he’s told to let people die and a film where Batman has a gun and kills people, you insult the reason why people want to watch your film.
Yes, test your characters. Make Superman feel like there is no more hope in the world, make Batman seriously consider kill a villain, maybe even let him do so if we can see the character develop more as a result of it. But remember the ideals they were based on, remember why we loved them in the comics and why we want to see them on the big screen.
5. And finally, relax and take it slow
I know you’re all panicking in the DC offices now because your films haven’t made as much as you hoped and you’re now drinking champagne from Asda rather than the good stuff. The answer to this is not to pile everything awesome from the comics into one film.
Batman V Superman had enough plot to fill lots of different films, from the fight and rivalry between Superman and Batman to the battle with Doomsday. Let these plots breath for a bit, and let the characters come out of their shells instead of having every conversation being something that has to motor forward the plot. Age of Ultron stopped the entire film for their characters to have a party and it was probably the best part of the film.
Just relax. Despite the mess you’ve gotten into, you’ve got a good universe in the making. You’ve cast your main characters well for the main part, and for the one you haven’t, cough cough Lex Luthor, you’ve actually written yourself a get out clause as if you realised he was terrible. So for Justice League, don’t throw everything at the wall and see what sticks, because it’ll end up being a clump that we can’t concentrate on. Take your time over one idea, get it right and show that off to us.
Then we reward you by actually watching your film for a second time. See, isn’t that a fair trade-off?