The DCEU has polarized fans almost since its inception, but hope has been returned in part thanks to the success of Wonder Woman in 2017. It all began in 2013 with Man of Steel, followed by Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice two years later, and then Suicide Squad in 2016. This universe cultivated a lot of fan bickering over things like tone. The vibe of the DC movie-verse was gritty, violent and war-torn compared to the MCU. However, as we’re seeing with how Justice League is shaping up, they’re clearly injectinga much lighter tone, which will hopefully bring back even the most dejected DC fans.
While all of this gets sorted, the DCEU has had quite a few moments of ignorance, where things just fell flat because of bad-writing and poor execution. Seriously, plot and character issues aside, there are some moments that make us cringe because they just don’t translate well to the big screen. These instances are definitely a combination of issues but when they crash, boy oh boy, do they crash hard! It happens to the best studios, though, from the MCU to Fox to Sony’s cinematic universe of superheroes. Taking that into consideration, CBR decided to dissect 15 of the cringiest moments in the DCEU so far.
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for all DCEU movies
15. GRANNY’S PEACH TEA
In Batman vs. Superman, Lex Luthor wanted Superman dead because he saw him as the devil and not an angel like everyone else. He didn’t believe someone wielding godlike power was any good for mankind. It was mostly because he was jealous… and oh yeah, super-duper evil. However, he was stymied by Senator June Finch who wasn’t fond of his methods.
“Don’t piss in a jar and tell me it’s Grandma’s peach tea!” she warned him when he tried to talk to her about blocking his import license on bringing in radioactive kryptonite. When Superman was eventually called to a congressional hearing to answer for dispatching mercenaries, Finch ironically found a jar of “peach tea” on her desk, which looked like urine. A bomb then went off, killing everyone and framing Superman, but it didn’t stop the audience from gagging. This jar was sick and gross; the ultimate insult to injury.
14. BYE BYE PA KENT
We understood what Zack Snyder was trying to do in Man of Steel when he kickstarted the DCEU. He changed up a few things about the Superman mythos in order to modernize it. One of the elements he changed was Jonathan Kent’s upbringing of Clark. He wasn’t as inspirational as other depictions and wanted to shield his son from the world.
When a tornado hit them on the road and he made Clark get everyone to safety, Pa Kent was caught in no man’s land and was about to be killed. Clark wanted to save him but Pa warned him not to so as to keep his secret. Clark obliged and let his dad die. This was cringeworthy because it was so pointless. Pa Kent’s death was handled much better elsewhere, like in the comics, where he suffered a heart attack, which even Superman couldn’t prevent. That’s how you do play this scene, not with a tragedy that could have been avoided.
13. DEADSHOT’S PEP TALK
In Suicide Squad, there were quite a few WTF moments which left us facepalming hard. One of them was an interaction between Deadshot and Diablo. Deadshot was the rugged leader who was all about business while Diablo was more reserved and struck by guilt over his family’s death. The latter wasn’t up for the mission and Enchantress’ monsters attacking didn’t help the team’s cause.
Deadshot realized they were being outmanned, so he hyped Diablo up to the point where the criminal lost his cool and broke out his fire manipulation powers. He roasted and toasted the creatures, but you couldn’t help but laugh when Deadshot was getting him worked up and angry. It was cheesy at best and disingenuous at worst, and felt like a scene between Will Smith and cousin Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
12. STEVE TREVOR’S MONKEY SUIT
Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman remains a huge hit but this scene was one of the more drawn-out and forced ones that tried too hard and left us shaking our heads. Steve Trevor was rescued by Diana but the Amazons didn’t heed his rallying call to help mankind in their wars. Diana, however, left Themyscira with him and started her journey to becoming Wonder Woman.
However, before they did so, she walked in on him after he got out of a pool in his quarters and she started scrutinizing his body. We know it was the point to make this scene uncomfortable, but the whole affair made us cringe super hard, especially thanks to Diana’s perceived innocence. It was still a funny scene, but it did drag and the whole encounter made us cringe hard… arguably intentionally so!
11. THE DIS-ENCHANTRESS
Cara Delevingne is a talented actor, but boy was she off in her depiction of the witch called the Enchantress. After Amanda Waller’s plans to try to control her inside June Moone’s body went awry, the despot broke out and started her quest for global domination. However, all Delevingne’s idiosyncrasies left us wondering what she was on!
We couldn’t tell if she was drunk or just dancing for no apparent reason. Her distorted voice and character quickly became hard to watch, morphing into a performance that was less black magic and more cringe. In general, Suicide Squad really leaned in to its over-the-top performances, which works for characters like Harley Quinn, but for Enchantress, it just came across as cartoonish; an antithetical move for such an ostensibly gritty movie.
10. THE JOR-EL APP
Snyder’s Man Of Steel got a lot of flak, but there were many moments that cast a contemporary light on the Superman character, sort of like what Mark Waid and Leinil Yu achieved in the landmark Superman: Birthright. Snyder focused on Kryptonian technology a lot but this scene, while ambitious, just didn’t quite hit the mark.
When Lois and Kal-El were aboard Zod’s scout ship, she was left to rescue him. After uploading a key into the vessel, the ghost of Jor-El (which was a holographic artificial intelligence) appeared to basically act as a tour guide on how to save the day. He opened doors for Lois and predicted when attacks would come, all so that they could wrest Superman away from Zod’s iron fist. She was left alive, but we were all left groaning because SUperman’s dead father became a deus ex machina, which sort of defeats his whole purpose.
9. DO YOU BLEED?
As Bruce investigated Lex in BvS, he went after some goons who packed a lot of firepower. It didn’t faze Batman since he had his trusty Batmobile, but as the chase ensued he ran into Superman, literally! Now, one of the moments that made us cringe was when both gents decided to chat and forget about the escaping criminals. Even when they were done talking, no one knew if any of them went after the actual criminals.
As for their little pow-wow, it was basically Superman telling Batman he didn’t approve of his violent methods and he threatened him if he didn’t stop his vigilantism. It was a pretty ironic moment because Batman felt an unchecked Superman was a threat to humanity. This schoolyard mouth-off ended with Batman asking him, “Do you bleed?” When Superman flew off, he said, “You will.” That makes for a great soundbyte, but let’s be real, a pretty cheesy moment.
8. EVERY MOMENT WITH INCUBUS
In Suicide Squad, Enchantress’ main objective was to transform the world once she escaped imprisonment into the one she felt she should be ruling. She saw the evolution of metahumans as a sign that things were swinging her way, and that was a sign to eradicate humanity. A key component was bringing her sibling, Incubus, back to help her in this genocide.
The demonic duo wanted to purge the Earth but every single scene Incubus spoke in, and tried to intimidate, left us wondering what was up with his voice. Look, we give full kudos to the studio for jumping right into the mystical realm — and the siblings weren’t bad villains — but the dialogue Incubus got and his depiction gave the impression of a video game character. We’re specifically thinking of Kotal Kahn from Mortal Kombat X. When he challenged Diablo at the end, it was another flat and disappointing moment.
7. BRUCE BOMBING WITH DIANA
In Justice League Unlimited, it was great seeing the meet-cute between Batman and Wonder Woman. Come BvS, Snyder and company would have just as much fun with Bruce clearly smitten by Diana. When he tried to use tech to steal info from Lex, Diana flipped the table and stole it from Bruce instead.
Later on at a gala, he tried to get it back from her, and even tried wooing her a bit. She eventually told him where it was but not before their attempt at romance came off as cheesy, shock value and just poorly handled. There was no chemistry between the two, a malady remedied by her true love, Steve (Chris Pine) Trevor. When Diana told Bruce that she doubted he knew women like her, it should have been impressive, but it came off as trite.
6. THE MARTHA BEAT-DOWN
Snyder’s DCEU debut got really weird when Zod’s Kryptonian army came down to Earth to find the Codex (a repository that stored the DNA of Krypton’s citizens for genetic engineering). They headed straight to Smallville to go after Clark’s mom, Martha Kent, and actually got physical with her.
When they asked her for it, there was a really dumb moment where she looked over at the barn and then suddenly, they assumed it was there. What Faora jumped to find was Clark’s stowaway ship. Apparently, Kryptonians had built-in lie detectors. Also, Martha gave in way too easily, as opposed to Pa, who died in a freaking tornado — this family needs some consistency of message! Overall, this just points to how poorly-written and shoddily executed the conflict in the movie ended up being; spectacular visually, sure, but absolutely zero nuance. In a movie this huge, this important, that’s just embarrassing.
5. HARLEY QUINN NEEDS A DRESSING ROOM
When the Suicide Squad was finally greenlit to go off on their mission to stop the Enchantress, the DCEU really screwed the pooch when they focused way too long on over-sexualizing Harley Quinn as she got into her gear. From her skimpy clothes to close-up shots of her body, was it necessary to treat her like a piece of ass rather than a badass?
We understand that in the comics, and even the cartoons at times, she was sexually objectified (and used that as a weapon in her arsenal), but in this film, Harley was in minimal clothing throughout. We get it — she’s sexy and barely-clothed. That has arguably become part of her character, but it being this gratuitous just felt contrived and gross.
4. THE FIRST SUPER-KISS
Now, this kiss wasn’t a mind-wiping fail as with Superman II. No, this was on a whole new level. After Lois helped send Zod’s minions back to the Phantom Zone, Superman rescued her and they had to struggle to reach ground zero. They did and got wrapped up in a long, passionate kiss.
What makes this dumb? Well, for starters the Daily Planet employees, including Perry White, saw this which meant that when Clark arrived with his glasses later on, and Lois moved in with him, it wouldn’t take an investigative mind to realize that Clark and Superman are one in the same. Secondly, Superman’s making out while buildings are collapsing and people are dying. And oh yeah, Zod’s still out there waiting to kill the rest of humanity. Priorities please, people!
3. LEX SHARES HIS SWEETS
When it came to BvS, one of the biggest head-scratchers was with Lex and a politician. The villain was currying his favor as the likes of Senator Finch weren’t playing ball with him. This politician was willing, however, as Lex indicated that he wanted access to Zod’s body to study it, in what would become Doomsday. He also wanted to use the Kryptonian Genesis Chamber seen in the previous movie.
Now, while we appreciate Snyder flipping the concept of Lex and going for a quirky, eccentric start-up millennial, what unfolded was kind of sick. Lex slipped a Jolly Rancher in the man’s mouth after indicating it was cherry-flavored. It seemed to be against the politician’s will as he didn’t seem to be enjoying it. Lex then pushed it in with his own finger, which he then proceeded to lick. This one took the audience a while to process after its collective cringe.
2. THE ARES REVEAL
The finale of the Wonder Woman movie was entertaining and filled with action but the build-up to this spectacle was weak. Not to mention that dismal reveal that Sir Patrick Morgan, who was helping Diana and Steve fight the Nazis, was actually Ares. Bad dialogue aside, what really left a sour taste in our mouths was that this segment of the movie felt so haphazard.
It’s as if they were rolling along and realized that they forgot to add in a Snyder-esque climax. This in turn apparently flicked a switch where they forgot about Ares and decided to throw him to the most unexpected character in the film. It didn’t work. It was boring, predictable and rushed. This move felt like they chucked in a major super-powered villain just for the sake of having one; all style and no substance.
When things get rough, always have a safe-word. In BvS, the schoolyard fight had one and it was “Martha.” Bruce’s mother was Martha Wayne and Clark’s adoptive one was Martha Kent so when Lex took her hostage in a complex plot to get Batman and Superman to brawl, all the alien had to do to show the Dark Knight he was indeed human was whisper his mother’s name.
He did this, urging Bruce to go save her from Lex’s clutches. A moment like this works in the comics but in film, not as much, especially in the wake of Superman not having a simple conversation with Batman before the fight to let him know that she was taken hostage. Batman powering down so quickly had us chuckling more than anything. Snyder wanted this scene to be profound and cathartic, but the majority of it felt heavy-handed and off-putting.
Let us know in the comments which DCEU moments made you cringe the most!
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