Before the inevitable Marvel Cinematic Universe v DC Extended Universe argument gets brought up, we’d like to say that regardless which company they’re from, we’re just happy to see more comic book adaptations on the big screen. It means that companies are more likely to push the boundaries of comic book storytelling in movies. And that’s largely because they’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t. And although the MCU has pretty much figured out their formula of movie making in their huge slate, the DCEU is still finding out what works.
Unfortunately, that means that their movies are peppered with moments that just don’t fit in, plot holes and the occasional moment that makes us wince with second-hand awkwardness. Whilst some of these moments are down to the writing of the characters, there are the occasional beats that come from a performance that just grind the film to a halt. Fans have been quick to notice some of them coming straight out of the theater. Hopefully from here on out DC have figured out their problems and are busy working out the best way forward in their slate of movies. Until that point, here are 15 cringe-worthy moments from the DCEU.
15 LOIS COINS SUPERMAN
When the DCEU was still in its early stages, Kal-El didn’t have a superhero identity, nor did he have a full grip on his powers. But once Zod and the rest of the Kryptonians show up, he quickly has to learn.
He dons the iconic suit and coordinates with the military as to what they should do, but not before Lois Lane gets to interview him.
In the interview she questions the giant ‘S’ emblem, and then tries to come up with a name. But before she can say ‘Superman’ she’s interrupted by the intercom. It’s a moment that pulls the audience out of the film, because they know what she was about to say. But it just feels so forced, we’ve gone through the entire movie so far knowing who Clark is and who’s going to be. There’s no need to constantly force the name down our throats.
14 THE FLASH/SUPERMAN RACE
Okay, so during the credits of Justice League we get to see a race between The Flash and Superman, and what should be an extremely cool moment, is ruined by Barry. Look, we know their races in the comics are legendary, but this was ridiculously cheesy. We know they can both travel at super speeds, but that should be given a genuine scene in the film, not a half-hearted post-credits scene.
Barry’s stance as he’s about to set off running is too comedic, and yes it’s a humorous scene, but he genuinely just looks silly. The Flash television show did the race between a Kryptonian and the Scarlet Speedster a lot better than this. Hopefully Ezra Miller becomes more comfortable with the role as he prepares for his solo film.
13 SOME KIND OF SUICIDE SQUAD
They said it, they said the title of the film within the film. Suicide Squad is not a great film, which is a shame because it had potential to flip the superhero genre on its head. Instead, we were given a several action pieces jumbled together under the thinly veiled disguise of a plot.
It had some great characters, but it was dangerously close to becoming the Will Smith show.
So when he spits the line “What are we, some kind of Suicide Squad?” it feels cheap. It takes the audience out of the film knowing that they only put the line to wink at us because it ties the comics into the film without explicitly labelling them. Either officially call them the Suicide Squad, or just name them Task Force X, don’t try and shoehorn it in for a cheap laugh. Poor effort.
12 ZOD SCREAMING
We know that Michael Shannon always gives a mind-blowing performance, there’s no doubt about it. He throws everything into a role, but Zod may have been too much. The militaristic Kryptonian brings the fire and fury to Earth in his search for Superman. His hatred for Clark has festered for years before he was imprisoned in the Phantom Zone.
After a failed coup, Zod and his followers were sentenced to the Phantom Zone. Just beforehand, Zod screams that he’ll find Kal-El. It’s a moment that is overacted and Shannon chews the scene completely. It’s not the worst moment in the film, but it’s incredibly over the top to the point of cringing. We don’t doubt that Zod is angry about what’s happened, but threatening a baby and screaming like that, it’s just not cool.
11 LUDENDORFF AND MARU CACKLING
Wonder Woman saw the Central Powers develop their use of chemical weapons in World War One with devastating effect. The gas that Doctor Maru/Doctor Poison was working on wipes out anybody that comes into contact with it.
It’s not a laughing matter whatsoever, or so it would seem.
Because when Ludendorff and Maru decide to take out German High Command, they throw in the gas and lock the men in behind them. They both chuckle like little children as they scurry away. In a film filled with severity that shows us the horrors of war, two villains nearly at the level of moustache twirling just take that horror away. It becomes near comedic when they start laughing about the horrific murders they’ve just committed. It doesn’t fit in with the rest of the film.
10 JONATHAN KENT’S DEATH
Kevin Costner plays Pa Kent in Man of Steel, the man that teaches Clark a specific moral compass. But also has some interesting ideas when it comes to keeping Clark’s powers secret, like suggesting he let a bus full of children die so as not to reveal himself. But the scene we have a problem with, is his death.
A tornado forms whilst the Kent family are driving, and when Jonathan goes back to save their dog, he gets stuck and tells his son not to save him. Clark then lets out a throaty scream when the tornado plucks him from the ground. It’s cringe-worthy mainly because his self-sacrifice and hand waving feels pompous in service of Superman’s secret. Especially when the hero reveals himself to the world a few years later anyway.
9 MERA CREATES A WATER BUBBLE
This scene was a little problematic. When Arthur goes down to Atlantis in search of the Mother Box and help from the Atlanteans, Mera creates an air bubble so that the two can actually talk. Wait, so they can’t talk underwater -- what about telekinesis? This really raised some questions.
It just felt completely strange to have the two water empowered metahumans have to talk in an air bubble when they’re in Atlantis.
How do Atlanteans talk normally? Is it all done via air bubbles? We hated this moment so much, as it takes away the beauty of being in an underwater society. Will all the dialogue scenes underwater in the Aquaman film be done in this way? Why do you do this to us Snyder/Whedon? It made us both cringe and confused simultaneously.
8 DEADSHOT SHOOT/SCREAM COMBO
Here’s one way of taking the drama out of a scene, slow it down and have Will Smith scream at it. Because that’s how Suicide Squad wraps up the final ‘climactic’ battle. When Killer Croc hurls a bomb at Enchantress, Deadshot has to shoot it at the right moment to stop all of her madness.
But as he does so, an image of his daughter appears in front of him begging Floyd not to pull the trigger. So, he screams in her face and pulls the trigger in slow motion. It’s as if they’re attempting to raise the emotional stakes, but Floyd knows his daughter isn’t there. The moment feels so cheesy that it undercuts any dramatic weight that David Ayer was going for with that scene.
7 RECRUITING CHARLIE
When Steve and Diana mount their expedition to the front line they have to recruit a few other team members to help them out in their mission. They head to a local pub to gather their comrades, like Charlie., but our introduction to Charlie is a terrible one.
Steve talks about his character briefly before we meet him, and the way the scene is written is done for comedic effect.
The man they’re looking for is the drunk being beaten senseless. Great. It’s cringe-worthy because it’s an action movie trope that’s been done plenty of times before. Charlie clearly isn’t capable at that point, and that’s only cemented further down the line when he can’t shoot due to PTSD. Steve and Diana should’ve just left him in the pub.
6 GRANNY’S PEACH TEA
Batman v Superman strived to continue with the gritty, grounded take on the DC Universe. It involved political conspiracies, the death of Superman and also the darker side of The Dark Knight. But what nobody counted on, was Lex Luthor peeing in a mason jar and leaving it on the desk of a senator for her to find in the middle of a hearing.
It calls back to a moment where the Senator (Holly Hunter) and Luthor butt heads over the import license for the hunk of Kryptonite. She makes a comment about peeing in a jar and calling it ‘Granny’s Peach Tea’. He does just that, and it’s gross. It makes us cringe because would one of the most formidable DC villains really stoop that low? That’s a move from the Joker, not Lex. Ew.
5 PRISON LEX
What was Jesse Eisenberg thinking? Let’s look at previous performances of Lex Luthor: Gene Hackman brought the bad guy into cinematic history, delivering his lines with comedic brilliance whilst also managing to portray the cold side of Lex. Kevin Spacey ramped up the villain factor by 10, and Michael Rosenbaum made him relatable. What does Jesse Eisenberg do?
He dribbles and talks maniacally as if he’s had a mental break, which would be fine if it was actually meant to be part of the story.
But his incessant babbling about the “bell has been rung” just makes us cringe. This legendary villain has been reduced to a very poor antagonist with no real depth, who comes across like a terrible Riddler rather than Lex. Let’s forget this bit every happened.
4 WE’RE BAD GUYS, IT’S WHAT WE DO
Oh, Harley Quinn. We hadn’t been given a cinematic version of Harleen until Margot Robbie brought her to Suicide Squad. And since then she’s become a pop culture icon, even more than she already was in comic book circles. And in a film filled with other bad guys, called ‘Suicide Squad’, we knew that the team weren’t exactly Christians filled with good intentions.
So when she decides to break a window and steal a handbag, Harley’s justification is that “We’re bad guys, it’s what we do”. Boring. We knew that Harley. David Ayer not only directed the film but wrote it too, and this moment just did not land at all. Are they bad guys David Ayer? We couldn’t tell. He definitely tried too hard with some of the dialogue.
3 THE BATH SCENE
Okay, we know that most people are head over heels for Chris Pine. Hell, who isn’t? You either want Chris Pine, or you want to be him. But the bath scene in Wonder Woman was incredibly awkward -- it just didn’t sit right with us. And yes, the awkwardness is the point of the scene as it shows the huge difference in these two characters. But it all just felt weird.
Chris Pine explaining the significance of his watch to Diana while he stood completely naked was just cringe-worthy.
There’s plenty of jokes to be made about the scene, especially flipping the male/female action hero stereotypes, but this interaction just seemed to drag on far too long until the humor had been sucked dry. Luckily, they don’t spend the entire film exploring the awkward parts of their relationship.
It’s become notorious. The ‘Martha’ scene of Batman v Superman is quite possibly one of the films biggest downfalls. When Batman has beaten Superman to a pulp towards the end of the film, Superman tries to warn him about Lex kidnapping Clark’s mother, Martha. Which also happens to be the name of Batman’s dead mother. Oh, Ben Affleck, why did you have to say that name?
He roars at Superman demanding to know why he said it before Lois jumps in and explains. But the whole exchange is so awkward. Batman goes from wanting to kill Supes to being his partner within two seconds, because their mothers share a name. Just stop. The whole scene just makes us want to stop the film and go watch Thor: The Dark World.
1 LOIS TELLS SUPERMAN HE SMELLS GOOD
We’re not kidding, that’s an actual moment from Justice League. Some fans loved Justice League, others really did not. It’s an extremely divisive movie due to moments just like this. Maybe that’s because of the combination of the Snyder/Whedon directions, but Justice League had some interesting choices when it came to dialogue. Shortly after Superman’s resurrection, he goes on the rampage, not remembering Batman or any of the events leading up to his death.
Once Lois arrives and he calms down, the two have some time together in which Lois tells him that he smells good.
Up until a few hours beforehand, he was a corpse. It’s just weird when you think about it. Either Lois is into some questionable things, or death has some positive effects on Supes’ smell. Kryptonian resurrection spa anyone?