After the release of Justice League, the DC Extended Universe is perhaps in the most trouble it has ever been in since it’s inception in 2013 with Man of Steel. Warner Bros.’ latest superhero movie is an ensemble piece that finally brought DC Comics’ most popular superhero team alive in live-action for the first time. So how did it also become the studio’s first real failure – potentially not even making a profit? After two bleak movies by Zack Snyder, Warner Bros. brought in Joss Whedon to lighten the tone and create a great team dynamic. Sadly, this is was one of a few missteps.
Bringing in Whedon, who’s responsible for the first two Avengers movies, ended up making Justice League prime for easy criticism. Mixing two distinct elements – a Marvel Studios-style lighthearted, quippy team dynamic, with the decidedly less fun DC Universe that had already been established – didn’t work. This, combined with some of the DCEU’s worst qualities (a simple plot that lacked any real impact, coupled with a poor villain), ended up with a movie that, well, wasn’t very good. The good news is, it’s not too late for Warner Bros. to save the DC Extended Universe by taking a few simple, if sometimes drastic steps.
End The Snyder-verse
Zack Snyder’s vision of the DC Extended Universe has divided fans, to say the least. Providing audiences with a very different, darker take on heroes they know and love from the comics, the director gave himself a ridiculously tough job from the get-go. One thing’s for sure: His storytelling is long-winded and convoluted. Warner Bros.’ Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman made more sense than the theatrical cut, as important plot points were left out of the movie millions saw in theaters. This is evident in Justice League, too, resulting in fans creating a petition for a longer version of the film.
Warner Bros. mandated that the movie could be no longer than two hours in length, which made the final film disjointed and flawed. Steppenwolf was sloppy and shallow, and fans still didn’t know or particular care about newer heroes Cyborg and Aquaman. Audiences were into the film for Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, and rightfully so as they’ve been fleshed out in previous movies. Thus, we understand their motives and history, leading to us actually caring about what happened to them. Supporting characters for Aquaman such as Willem Dafoe’s Vulko were subject to cuts, with the majority of Cyborg’s backstory also being left out, and the movie suffered because of it.
Superman’s revival also suffered from scenes being left out, but in terms of continuity – which is incredibly important in a universe that shares a single narrative. At the end of Batman v Superman, dirt on Superman’s coffin floats in the air, suggesting he’s not dead after all. In Justice League however, it’s revealed that he is really dead – which makes no sense at all. It’s faults like this that spawn out of trimming a movie down so much, as it basically nullifies Snyder’s method of storytelling.
If Warner Bros. intends to continue to produce shorter movies so they’re more accessible to general audiences, and thus more likely to be profitable, then they need to relieve Snyder from the director’s chair. Bringing in new directing talent that understands the overall vision for the DC Extended Universe, that can tell a hope-filled and inspiring story in a lesser amount of time, males the future of the universe immediately seem brighter.
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