WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 2 of Disney's DuckTales.
It's widely known how much critics and fans panned the bleak aesthetic of the DC Extended Universe, namely the Zack Snyder films. Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League were the movies Warner Bros. wanted to move away from, and course-correct toward more uplifting films like Wonder Woman and Shazam!
Now, another voice sounds off on Snyder's brand, an overly violent one the filmmaker has doubled-down on time and time again. This time it's Disney's DuckTales reboot that takes shots at the director with the new adventures of Darkwing Duck.
Snyder's dark vision for costumed vigilantes, as seen in Watchmen, didn't translate well when applied to such iconic heroes as Superman and Wonder Woman. With the director's departure from Justice League, the sepia gloom began to lift from the struggling franchise.
DuckTales makes its stance on Snyder, and the early DCEU, in Season 2's 16th episode, "The Duck Knight Returns!," in which Uncle Scrooge (David Tennant) reopens an old movie studio he used to make commercials. He's trying to capitalize on the popularity of superhero films, with Edgar Wright's Alistair Boorswan as his director of choice for a Darkwing Duck reboot.
In this universe, Darkwing Duck isn't a crimefighter, he's a character from an old TV show. Down-and-out actor Jim Starling (Jim Cummings) gets wind of Scrooge's plans, and rushes to the studio, thinking he'll be invited to reprise his role. However, he discovers Boorswan is a Snyder rip-off who believes superhero movies need to be grim and violent. What's more, he casts a younger actor, Drake Mallard -- the Darkwing from the original Disney cartoon.
Boorswan screens the trailer to demonstrate this isn't your father's Darkwing Duck, and it feels like a creative piece from Snyder. The clip shows St. Canard as a spin on Gotham, and the soundtrack mimics the one from Batman: The Animated Series. A shadowy figure jumps from rooftop to rooftop, seemingly sticking to the essence of the character by parodying Batman. However, as the narrator speaks more about this version of Darkwing, it becomes clear he's poking fun of Snyder.
"There is no right or wrong, no heroes or villains ... only darkness," he says. "There is only one man who can fight the darkness ... with more darkness!" Darkwing stand on the edge of a building and strikes a match, causing a "DW" symbol to light up, a nod to Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. But, the trailer then intersperses clips of citizens running from "the Darkwing," and of St. Canard's answer to Jim Gordon on the police station's roof, telling Darkwing he's not helping -- he's terrifying people. Darkwing offers a sinister smile, indicating he's enjoying this.
If the trailer's interpretation of the now-iconic sequence of Martha Wayne's pearl necklace breaking, featured so prominently at the beginning of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, isn't enough to convince you DuckTales is taking aim at Snyder, then the film's title will: Darkwing: First Darkness. It's accompanied by a warning that, "This film is not suitable for children."
Boorswan maintains "grim and gritty" is the way to go, but when it doesn't register with young Dewey, Scrooge thinks he's missing the demographic. Scrooge believes there must be some fun involved, and hires Dewey to take over the project and to guide an annoyed Boorswan. In another subtle jab, Scrooge reiterates the concept is so straightforward, even a child can get it right.
Sadly, Dewey also goes off the hinges, wanting explosions and aggression amid the heroics, leaving the audience with a snapshot of what happens when people don't understand the properties they're adapting. What's left is two directors bickering, and leaving fans with the impression this is how Warner Bros. ended up mixing Joss Whedon's vision with Snyder's, resulting in Justice League.
Starring David Tennant, Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, Bobby Moynihan, Kate Micucci, Beck Bennett, Toks Olagundoye and Tony Anselmo, new episodes of DuckTales debut Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. ET/PT on Disney Channel.