After the runaway success of the MCU, the DCEU was downright inevitable. After all, DC had been the original torchbearers for modern superhero cinema, giving us the Christopher Reeves as Superman and Michael Keaton as Batman. Now, with a cinematic universe of their very own, DC and Warner Bros. Were poised to give us the greatest superhero movies ever. At least, that was the theory. However, critics have not been kind to the DCEU — feelings towards the debut movie, Man of Steel, were lukewarm, and the critical response to Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad were savage. The movies did okay financially, but it wasn’t until Wonder Woman that the DCEU had a critical and commercial hit.
While there are a lot of theories as to what went wrong with the DCEU, we prefer the simplest one: DC and Warner Bros. ignored what fans wanted. Instead, we got twisted caricatures of our favorite characters, butchered versions of our favorite plots, and a hot mess instead of a solidly-linked universe. There are many ways that DC and Warner Bros. insulted their biggest fans. And while you can’t send Flash back in time to save you money on a movie ticket, you can keep scrolling to read.
15. KILLING JIMMY OLSEN
For fans of Superman, Jimmy Olsen is a beloved character. He serves as a great sidekick, and as a photographer, always makes for a fun stand-in for us as readers. The character is so popular that he landed a starring role on the CW’s Supergirl. However, in the DCEU, he is immediately killed off!
Remember that poor photographer in Batman v. Superman that ended up being a spy? That was actually Jimmy Olsen. That’s right: in a movie that desperately needed some lightness and humanity, they took one of the greatest sidekicks of all time and blew his brains out in front of Lois Lane. It’s not only offensive to Olsen fans but to moviegoers in general, showing us a movie that is all violent flash and no substance.
14. DUMBING DOWN BATMAN
Batman is one of the smartest guys on the planet. That’s his whole deal: given enough time and resources, Batman’s big brain makes him the equal of any threat he encounters. However, in Batman v. Superman, he is presented as being really, really stupid.
We see flashes of this in his bizarre racism towards Superman and his penchant for mass murder. However, we mostly see Batman’s stupidity by seeing how easily Lex Luthor can manipulate him. Apparently, sending some paychecks covered in emo messages is enough to send the world’s smartest man into a murderous rage? This would have been a prime opportunity for a truly smart Batman to figure out who was trying to play him. Instead, he went right ahead and got played.
13. RUINED THE JOKER
It’s true that Jared Leto had some huge shoes to fill. In The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger gave us one of the greatest performances of all time, bringing the character of the Joker to life in a way we had never seen before. However, even if we had never seen Ledger, one thing is certain: Jared Leto completely ruined the character of the Joker in Suicide Squad.
His Joker was nothing more than a goth-themed thug. He lacked both the genius-level planning of the character as well as his sense of theatricality and style (and no, we’re not calling thugs in animal costumes theatrical). It may be a side effect of him being given so little to do, but his scenes had their opposite intended effect: he took the life out of any scene, replacing the handful of good character moments we got with ham-fisted dialogue and terrible delivery.
12. BATMAN LOVES HIS GUNS
While the fans with the really long longboxes like to point out some exceptions he has made over the years, one of Batman’s main characteristics is that he is not willing to kill anyone. One of his other main characteristics is that he hates guns. Both of these, of course, stem from watching his parents get shot and killed.
However, Batman is inexplicably into both guns and murder in Batman v. Superman. In both the bizarre dream sequence and in the actual plot, we see Batman alternate between using guns and his car to kill thug after thug. Mr. Sunday Movies estimates that Batman kills 21 people over the course of the movie. While we can argue that some of them could maybe (emphasis on maybe) survive, the truth is that turning Batman into a gun-toting mass murderer is a complete violation of who and what this character is.
11. TERRIBLE FLASH INTRODUCTION
Given how unnecessarily grim and dark Batman v. Superman was, many fans are pinning their hopes on the character of the Flash to provide some levity to this universe. Given his cameo in Suicide Squad and featured appearance in Justice League, it looks like he’ll definitely lighten things up. It’s too bad, though, that we are introduced to him in the stupidest possible way.
Specifically, Batman has a vision within a dream in which he sees a time-traveling Flash warn him about an out-of-control Superman. Had this event actually happened, it would have been a really cool way to set up future movies. However, we’re left with questions — how did he travel into a vision? Why did Batman have a vision within a dream? Ultimately, the movie reduces our big introduction to the Flash to a burning plot hole.
10. NOT-SO-SECRET IDENTITY
Superman is the poster child for the secret identity thing for a very good reason. For the better part of a century, we have seen the character struggle to balance his life as a super-powered hero and his life as bumbling, mild-mannered Clark Kent. However, the Man of Steel movie throws this dynamic out.
First of all, the military and government can easily figure out who he really is, given that Lois Lane was able to do so with far fewer resources. Also, Zod’s ship landed right next to the Kent homestead, and police officers are nearby when Lois is screaming “Clark” to Superman. The government has his old ship from Krypton, and a potential bus full of witnesses. Throw in Lois apparently fabricating a journalism degree (likely leaving a paper trail), and Clark Kent’s “secret” identity has never been in more danger.
9. BATMAN CAN’T SNEAK
One of Batman’s other big qualities is that he’s so sneaky. That’s the reason for the dark suit, after all — to help him blend into the darkness and get the drop on criminals. However, in the DCEU, Batman has apparently forgotten how to sneak around.
We see him engage in a destructive, highly-noticeable car chase to try to steal some Kryptonite. When that’s foiled, he just sneaks in and steals the Kryptonite offscreen. Why didn’t he do that in the first place? We also see him taking on a room full of bad guys like the Arkham games come to life. It looks badass, but it’s a far cry from Batman using his brains and picking off one at a time. He also calls out Superman by using a giant Bat-signal, practically inviting the authorities to detain him. Maybe Batman will be sneaky again in his solo movie?
8. RACIST CARICATURE
There were a lot of issues with the characters in the Suicide Squad. First off, there were too many of them. We ended up getting so much of Deadshot and Harley that characters like Killer Croc are reduced to a handful of lines. Unfortunately, those lines made many fans think he was little more than a racist caricature.
Some fans thought there was a bit of historical racism in casting a black man to be the super-animalistic one in the Squad. There was also the perplexing decision to have him often wearing a hoodie, which read to some as a way of giving him a more urban look. Finally, when the Squad gets to have their personal wishes granted, Croc’s only request is that they allow him to watch BET in his cell. By themselves, none of these things are a smoking gun, but taken altogether, it’s pretty bad.
7. WEIRD CLARK/LOIS RELATIONSHIP
For longtime Superman fans, watching the Lois and Clark relationship blossom has been a real treat. We got to see her feelings develop first for Superman, and then we got to see Clark performing the weird balancing act of being a goofy-looking human while also being charming . However, this is another relationship that the DCEU steps all over.
First of all, we don’t actually see the relationship develop. She learns he is Superman before helping him perfect his alter ego. They seem little more than allies by the end of Man of Steel, and they are a couple by the time Batman v. Superman starts. However, we only get a couple of meaningful scenes between them before Superman dies. We are then meant to mourn the fact that they never got married, but this is hollow because of how little we see their relationship actually develop and grow.
6. LEX THE LOGO DESIGNER
Look, we get it: everybody hates a nitpicker. There’s nothing wrong with turning your brain off and enjoying a movie. However, there are some plot elements that make no sense, and the more you tug at this thread, the more the whole thing unravels. And this is the case with Lex Luthor, graphic designer.
When Bruce Wayne successfully steals Luthor’s files, we get our awkward introduction to several future Justice League members via recorded video files. However, all of the files also have the heroes’ familiar icons by them. This brings up so many questions — did Lex design the logos himself? Or did he have a designer he trusted enough with this secret info? How do these designs get back to the heroes (like when we see the familiar lightning icon on the Flash suit in later movies)? Ultimately, this scene insults the intelligence of comics fans and moviegoers alike.
5. THE JOKER/HARLEY RELATIONSHIP
Despite the critics absolutely savaging it, Suicide Squad ended up being a bona fide hit. This meant more people than ever before were being introduced to characters like Joker and Harley. Then, a weird thing happened: people started idolizing their relationship…which is really, really screwed up!
Batman: The Animated Series and Batman’s various comics have shown us how their relationship works: Joker is an abusive maniac, and Harley Quinn is the broken person who falls into this toxic relationship. However, the movie presents their love as very genuine, and even advertised images of the two lovers with the hashtag #SquadGoals. Suicide Squad ended up ruining the relationship that was portrayed in the comics and TV show while simultaneously glorifying domestic abuse and mental illness, which is pretty damn gross. But just try telling that to the countless couples who cosplay as Joker and Harley!
4. MADE DOOMSDAY A CAVE TROLL
Over the years, everyone who has written Superman has run into the same dilemma. When you have a character practically as powerful as God, how can you possibly challenge them? You need to have a villain who is the equal of the hero and who can provide a worthy challenge. For Superman, Doomsday is that villain, but his appearance in Batman v. Superman ruins this character.
In the original “Death of Superman” story, part of what made Doomsday so terrifying is that we saw his long path of destruction as he headed to Metropolis. He shrugged off all attacking heroes but here, he is reduced to nothing more than Lex Luthor’s Krpytonian science experiment. To top it off, he looks exactly like a Lord of the Rings Cave Troll instead of the badass Doomsday we all love. Lazy writing and lazier design do not make for a compelling villain!
3. SUICIDE SQUAD IS USELESS
The Suicide Squad movie was nothing short of inevitable. It provided an excuse to assemble an eclectic crew of loners, effectively giving us the DCEU’s counter to the Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s just one problem: the reason for the existence of the Suicide Squad makes no sense.
In the most classic Squad comics, the group is used like super-powered spies. Towards this end, they mostly fought foes in their own weight class. In the movie, they are explicitly assembled to fight even metahumans, with Waller asking what happens if the next Superman is evil. However, their own team only has two meta heavy-hitters (Diablo and Enchantress), and they immediately lose one of them. This leaves us to believe that bullets and boomerangs and bats are the best defense against an evil Superman? That plan’s crazier than the Joker!
2. FORCED JESUS SYMBOLISM
In retrospect, Man of Steel was one of the better DCEU movies. It did not suffer from the pacing problems that plagued Suicide Squad, and the character seemed to authentically channel the values of the classic Superman more often than not. However, the forced Jesus symbolism was beyond awkward.
Warner Bros. actually marketed the movie towards Christian pastors. This resulted in lots of heavy-handed symbolism: Kal-El is the product of a magical birth, he’s 33 (the same as Jesus) when he becomes Superman. Obviously, there’s nothing inherently wrong with religious references, but the movie asks us to accept Superman as a divine being before we get to know him as a man. It’s also weird to see someone from a completely different culture (complete with its own religion) so vehemently embody Judeo-Christian values, abandoning his own heritage in a movie that wants us to celebrate him rediscovering who he is.
1. WORST. LUTHOR. EVER.
If you had to pick the worst thing in Batman v. Superman, it’s tough to go wrong with Lex Luthor. In fact, it’s not unreasonable to say that Eisenberg has given us the worst performance in all of the DCEU. His portrayal of Lex Luthor is a failure on every level.
DC Comics have given us many different versions of Lex, such as “mad scientist” and “corrupt businessman” and even “evil politician.” In Batman v. Superman, we get a 21st-century Lex that comes off as an evil Mark Zuckerberg. He is manic and unhinged, giving us a Lex Luthor performance that would have been much better if he were The Joker. His plan makes no sense: he’s so scared of an out-of-control alien that he…unleashes an out-of-control alien? Throw in some downright gross scenes (pee lemonade, anyone?), and you get a performance that is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.
Which of these is the most insulting to diehard DC fans? Let us know in the comments!
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