By Jesse Merkel
We’re still a year away from seeing the second official installment in the DC Cinematic Universe, but that hasn’t stopped Marvel fans on the internet from ripping it a new one every chance they get. While there are those who are fans of both, it’s the negative voices that are the loudest of all.
It’s no secret that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had a huge jump on the competition. Next month, Marvel will have released 11 movies in a cohesive universe, with several more on the way. Next year, DC will have rolled out it’s second and third. While DC has sat on the sidelines for years, they were watching, and learning.
Contrary to the loud opinions that are constantly being tossed about on movie commentary sites around the web, there are several things that the DC Cinematic Universe could use to its advantage.
Real Feelings and Consequences
After the first picture of Ben Affleck in costume came out, people took joy in producing ‘Sad Batman’ memes as a way of pointing out that once again DC had chosen the depressing path. It may be a fun way for hipsters to get more attention, but it really misses the point that the DC and Warner Bros. are going for.
If someone calls Man of Steel hopeless, they’re probably the type of individual that need things explained to themslowly. Man of Steel showed us an alien who was alone in a world. We saw him move from job to job, using his gifts to help people, all the while trying to heed the cautionary words of Jonathon Kent.
When he finally gets to meet others of his race, he is forced to defend his adopted home world from them. Like he did several times in the comics, Superman is left no choice but to kill the one man who could tell him what his home and family were like. That is why instead of making a wisecrack after snapping Zod’s neck, he cried out in anguish.
The characters in this new DC movie universe are going to face many more real world issues and emotions than their jocular Marvel counterparts. It may not mean as many laughs, but it will lay the groundwork for some interesting character development along the way. Remember the rumors of a shrine to Robin in the Batcave? Yeah. That.
If there is one thing that has been the dark spot on Marvel’s record, besides Howard the Duck, it’s their record with villains. Extremely talented actors like Christopher Eccleston and Hugo Weaving were reduced to boring, bland bad guys. And while Loki, the favorite bad guy of that world is beloved by the fans, ‘scary’ isn’t one of the words that people use when they describe him.
One advantage that DC has is a litany of marquee villains that are just as famous as their hero counterparts. Lex Luthor, Harley Quinn, and the Joker could each carry a film on reputation alone. When you add the phenomenal casting of Jesse Eisenberg, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto, base it on fan-favorite source material, and throw in a dash of real word grittiness, the table is set for some absolutely frightening villains. Just imagine how well a method actor like Leto will do when he dives headfirst into the role!
The majority of those villains wil either be rolled out or featured in next years Suicide Squad. Joker, Harley Quinn, Rick Flagg, Enchantress, Boomerang, Deadshot, and Amanda Waller are all scheduled to show up, with Lex Luther and Deathstroke both rumored to appear.
Marvel’s strategy has been to release several independent movies, tease the audience with post-credit sequences, and provide a payoff in the form of a team up movie like The Avengers.
A change in tone isn’t enough to truly distinguish oneself from the competition. You need to change the way you tell a story. Rather than laying out a series of loosely connected solo stories, it appears that the DCCU is going to be relying on a more linear form of storytelling.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is going to be directly influenced by Man of Steel, and it’s a good bet thatSuicide Squad will continue the story. And while Batman v Superman will feature a number of cameos by other Justice League team members, Suicide Squad may arguably be more important to the DCCU.
Enchantress is a common Wonder Woman foe, while Boomerang regularly challenges the Flash. Joker, Harley Quinn, Deadshot and Amanda Waller have all made Batman’s life a living hell, while Lex Luthor is one of Superman’s greatest adversaries. After that movie comes screaming into theaters next year, there will be a host of well-defined baddies to help continue to story for future solo movies in the universe.
Yin to the Yang
DC taking a different tone and path than Marvel isn’t just gutsy. It’s smart. Anyone remember Green Lantern? Remember the lighter, more comedic tone? Remember the post-credits scene? It bombed for a reason. The Marvel tone doesn’t work for the older, more demigod-like characters found in DC Comics.
First of all, if they just copied everything that Marvel did, they’d be called rip off artists, and I, a huge fan of DC, would agree. Do we want to see a bright orange Aquamanriding a purple seahorse? Would Wonder Woman be at all believable with the invisible jet? No, it’d look ridiculous.
Unless you’re going to focus on escapism like Marvel, things need a real world explanation. That’s the reason for Jason Momoa‘s Aquaman looking like a Polynesian warrior, focusing on the alien nature of Superman, and a Lois Lane that’s not fooled when Clark Kent puts on a pair of glasses.
There is no wrong way to build a cohesive movie universe,and it’s fantastic that there are two great companies putting their products out there. For any fan of super hero movies, it’s nice that there will be so many more flicks to go see at the theater. With the two giants of the comic industry doing something different, it’s a good bet that we won’t get bored any time soon!