Years before the MCU ever became a thing, DC and Warner Bros. attempted to kickstart their own superhero franchise. However, crafting a live-action comic book universe proved to be anything but easy, and the studio experienced several misfires, most notably Superman Returns and Green Lantern. Fortunately, things turned around in 2013, and the DC Extended Universe finally took off with Man of Steel.
The film proved to be divisive among audiences, but it allowed Warner Bros. to continue its plan to bring DC properties to the big screen. As the years have gone by, however, the DCEU has constantly found itself in one difficult situation after another. Aside from Wonder Woman, every single one of the franchise’s installments has been poorly received by both critics and audiences. Overall, the franchise’s approach to superhero storytelling hasn’t resonated well with audiences. Surprisingly, there have been quite a few instances where the DCEU has also failed to connect with its own fanbase. Whether it’s because of changing classic comic book storylines or exploring new versions of its superheroes, the DCEU has found itself in hot water with fans more times than you might imagine. Given that, let’s take a look at 15 times the DC Extended Universe angered even the most ardent DC fans.
15. BATMAN BREAKS HIS ONE RULE
Batman has lived by one rule throughout most of his crime-fighting career: never take a life. For years, that’s been one of the character’s signature attributes, and it’s one that’s helped him separate himself from the bad guys he chases. Surprisingly, Zack Snyder decided to ignore Bruce Wayne’s rule in Batman v Superman. Throughout the movie, the Dark Knight was constantly shown running over criminals, shooting them down, or simply beating them to death.
Naturally, Batman’s brutal personality quickly became a controversial topic among comic book faithfuls. While there were a few fans who had no problem with seeing a murderous Batman on-screen, there was a much larger number of individuals who were very uncomfortable with the DCEU’s new take on the hero. Fortunately, Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. ultimately decided to do a slight course correction and show a much more benevolent Batman in Justice League.
14. JUSTICE LEAGUE’S DEPICTION OF WONDER WOMAN
With Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins took important steps toward the betterment of female representation in the comic book movie genre. Instead of objectifying Diana, Jenkins depicted the hero in the same inspiring light as the countless male crime-fighters we’ve seen on-screen over the years. Unfortunately, Jenkins’ empowering depiction of Wonder Woman was ignored by Justice League. All throughout the film, the camera took every opportunity available to linger on Diana’s backside and chest.
Adding insult to injury, there was even a scene where Flash landed face-first on Diana. Understandably, the blatant objectification of Wonder Woman angered fans, and left many wondering why the DCEU had taken such a massive step backward with the character. The DCEU is moving forward with a variety of female-led superhero films, so hopefully this controversy will encourage a change for live-action depictions of female heroes moving forward.
13. DOOMSDAY’S CREATION
Doomsday is one of Superman’s most beloved bad guys, so fans were excited to see him brought to life in Batman v Superman. Sadly, the villain’s big screen debut wasn’t the triumphant event comic book faithfuls had hoped for. Unlike the comics, which established Doomsday as a monster given birth and killed countless times to create the ultimate weapon, Batman v Superman presented the baddie as Lex Luthor’s creation, born from a combination of human and Kryptonian DNA.
Such a drastic change irked fans, especially those who had hoped to see an accurate representation of the character’s origin on the big screen. Ultimately, Doomsday failed to connect with audiences, and many considered him to be one of the DCEU’s most disappointing aspects. Currently, there seem to be no plans to reintroduce Doomsday into the franchise, so fans should probably not expect a course correction for the character any time soon.
12. TURNING THE SUICIDE SQUAD INTO HEROES
In the comics, the Suicide Squad are a group of criminals put together by the government to carry out clandestine missions. One of the most compelling aspects about Task Force X is the fact that its members aren’t good guys. Yes, they’re forced to work together for good, but they’re bad guys, and they show it every step of the way. Sadly, the team’s compelling comic book dynamic was largely ignored in 2016’s Suicide Squad.
At first, the film seemed to be on the right track, presenting its main group of characters as ruthless villains. Eventually, however, the movie switched gears and turned the Squad into misunderstood anti-heroes who were wrongfully rejected by society. Unsurprisingly, the large majority of comic book fans weren’t happy with such an approach, and they were left longing for a more faithful adaptation. Hopefully, Suicide Squad 2 will right the wrongs of its predecessor.
11. SUPERMAN SNAPS ZOD
Man of Steel has been surrounded by controversy since it was first released, and a big part of that can be attributed to the way Superman dispatched the film’s main baddie, General Zod. Following a brutal battle across Metropolis, Superman and Zod crash-landed in a train station. Desperate to beat Superman and being aware of the Big Blue Boy Scout’s love for people, Zod shot his heat vision at a family trying to escape from the station.
After struggling for a bit, Superman ultimately decided to snap Zod’s neck. Given Clark Kent’s strict no-killing rule in the comics, the scene garnered heavy outcry from fans. Seeing Superman (who’s considered one of the world’s most noble superheroes) killing his opponent had a big impact on audiences, and for many fans of the Big Blue Boy Scout, Zod’s murder became one of the defining characteristics of the DCEU’s Superman.
10. THE ENCHANTRESS
The DCEU hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to villains. So far, one of the franchise’s biggest missteps has been the Enchantress, who made her big screen debut in Suicide Squad. Initially, fans were excited to see the character on-screen due to her rich comic book backstory and gripping psychological dynamics. Surprisingly, the film ultimately turned Enchantress into an average baddie determined to take over the world.
The film’s treatment of the character received heavy backlash from fans, and many even went as far as to call Enchantress one of the worst comic book villains out there. In the end, Enchantress ended up becoming a running joke among the comic book fandom. So far, it doesn’t look like the villain will pop up again the DCEU any time soon, so any hopes of redeeming her in the eyes of comic book readers are probably gone.
9. EZRA MILLER’S PORTRAYAL OF THE FLASH
Ever since his debut in 1956, The Flash has been one of the most beloved superheroes in the world. Unfortunately, the character’s big screen counterpart hasn’t been enjoying the same kind of success. After brief appearances in Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, Ezra Miller got to fully present his version of Barry Allen to audiences in Justice League. To fans’ surprise, however, his portrayal gave a drastic spin to the Scarlet Speedster.
Justice League presented Barry Allen as an insecure and socially awkward young man who had trouble connecting with people. He also didn’t have a good grasp on his powers and most of the time, he found himself relying on his fellow Justice Leaguers to rescue him. All in all, these massive changes to the hero’s portrayal ended up disappointing a large number of fans, and left many longing for a more faithful adaptation of the character.
8. SUPERMAN’S DISREGARD FOR METROPOLIS
Man of Steel did a lot of interesting things with Superman. Unfortunately, it also failed to convey the character’s strong sense of responsibility. During the film’s third act, Kal-El faced off against General Zod in an all-out battle around Metropolis. Now, property damage is to be expected when two powerful aliens go at it with all they’ve got. However, the level of carelessness Superman showed throughout his battle was astounding.
Both Kryptonians threw each other around the city like rag dolls, completely ignoring the thousands of people in harm’s’ way and the countess destroyed buildings they left in their wake. What made the situation all the more troubling was the fact that, aside from Lois Lane, Superman didn’t once go out of his way to protect civilians. Fans weren’t happy with this approach, and the destruction of Metropolis ended up becoming a focal point in Batman v Superman.
7. WONDER WOMAN’S FINAL BATTLE
Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman was an incredible ride. The film shattered box office records and breathed new life into the DCEU. Still, despite all of its successes, there was one part of the movie that failed to resonate with fans: its final battle. After a long and arduous journey to find Ares, Diana finally came across the God of War, and the two titans started going at it.
While it was exciting to see Wonder Woman fighting someone as powerful as her, the sequence didn’t quite stick the landing with audiences. Fans were disappointed by how Diana and Ares’ scuffle turned Wonder Woman — which had been a fairly grounded film up to that point — into a CGI extravaganza. Admittedly, the sequence was a small misstep when compared to the rest of the movie, but the fact that audiences were disappointed by it is completely understandable.
6. AQUAMAN UNDERWATER
Aquaman is a particularly tricky character to get right on-screen, so fans were excited to see how Justice League would bring him and his underwater world to life. To fans’ dismay, however, their first foray into the DCEU’s underwater corner wasn’t what they had hoped. While seeing Aquaman and Mera interacting and doing battle under the sea was incredibly exciting, a large number of people felt the scene was bugged down by questionable CGI.
Another major problem fans had with Justice League‘s underwater scene was Atlantis itself. For many, the sunken kingdom felt more like a clunky digital creation as opposed to the magnificent, living-breathing world portrayed in the comics. Hopefully, James Wan’s upcoming Aquaman movie will do justice to the portrayal of Arthur Curry’s water-based abilities, and will deliver the Atlantis that comic book faithfuls have dreamt to see for so long.
5. LEX LUTHOR’S PORTRAYAL
Over the decades, Lex Luthor has cemented himself as one of the most compelling bad guys in the comic book world. He’s stoic, calculating, and always has a plan up his sleeve. Given Lex’s fascinating history, fans were excited to see what Jesse Eisenberg would bring to the character in 2016’s Batman v Superman. Sadly, the film established a completely different version of the evil billionaire, and it ended up not sitting well with audiences.
Ditching Luthor’s subtle personality, the movie presented a jittery and volatile Lex that was heavily disliked by fans. Eisenberg’s Lex became so unpopular that some fans went as far as to call him a copy of the Riddler. It’s currently a mystery whether Eisenberg will portray Luthor again in the future, but fans are still holding out hope to see the actor bring to life a more comic-accurate version of the character.
4. SUPERMAN LEAVES PEOPLE BEHIND AT THE CAPITOL
Ever since his comic book debut, Superman has always shown an undying sense of compassion for humanity. Sadly, Batman v Superman did away with the hero’s compassion, and opted to depict Clark Kent as a much colder individual. At one point in the film, Superman traveled to the Capitol to testify about his heroic endeavors. Everything seemed to be going well at first, but the situation turned sideways when Lex Luthor set off an explosion that left countless people injured.
Shockingly, instead of helping the injured, Superman flew away and left everyone to their fate. This scene caused immense outrage from fans, as they couldn’t believe Superman would leave so many people on their own when they so desperately needed him. Fortunately, Warner Bros. managed to appease angered viewers with the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman, which showed the Man of Steel actually helping out the injured.
3. THE GLORIFICATION OF HARLEY AND JOKER’S RELATIONSHIP
Harley Quinn and Joker have one of the most toxic relationships in the comic book world, and fans were curious to see how their dynamic would be brought to life in Suicide Squad. Surprisingly, the film gave the characters’ romance a difference spin. Instead of shining a light on the Joker’s abusive treatment Harley, the movie glorified their relationship, and made Joker seem like a complete sweetheart, when in reality he was manipulative, violent and incredibly abusive.
This approach understandably upset a large majority of fans who longed for the DCEU to highlight the toxicity in Harley and Joker’s romance. The characters have a long big screen career ahead. They’re expected to appear in Suicide Squad 2 and star in their own untitled spin-off, so hopefully those projects will allow the DCEU to right their course and deliver a much more accurate portrayal of the characters’ relationship moving forward.
2. THE FRANCHISE’S SUDDEN TONAL SHIFT
When it first started out, the DCEU presented itself as a dark and gritty take on the superhero genre. Characters like Superman and Batman weren’t looking to inspire others or change the world. On the contrary. They were damaged individuals who often found themselves burdened by their own heroic duties. The approach seemed promising, but things didn’t pan out as planned, and the DCEU’s first three installments failed to resonate with audiences.
The films’ consistently disappointing reception prompted Warner Bros. to reshape the DCEU, imbuing it with a much brighter and hopeful tone. To the studio’s dismay, however, the franchise’s abrupt tonal shift angered a large part of its fanbase, and prompted many to wonder whether the DCEU would ever find its own identity. Fortunately, the franchise seems to slowly be discovering its voice, so let’s hope the DCEU achieves success in the near future.
Batman v Superman had its fair share of controversial moments, but the biggest one by far was Batman and Superman’s final battle — or rather, its conclusion. After throwing themselves around Gotham, Superman found himself beaten and about to be stabbed by the Caped Crusader. Desperate to stop their fight and get Bruce to help him save his mother, Superman muttered one word: Martha. Surprisingly, the name sent Bruce into a meltdown and immediately motivated him to patch things up with Superman.
Despite the movie’s effort to portray Batman’s sudden change of heart as a dramatic moment of growth, the scene frustrated fans, as many couldn’t believe that a battle between Batman and the Man of Steel had come to an end with the mention of one name. Eventually, however, people embraced the scene and “Martha!” ended up becoming one of the biggest running jokes in comic book movie history.
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