Warner Brothers released the Suicide Squad earlier this month. It was the 3rd movie in the DC Extended Universe after Man of Steel (MoS) and Batman v Superman (BvS). Like the previous two movies, Suicide Squad too got mixed reactions. While it got praise from DC fanboys, hard-core comic book fans and critics bashed it.
The end result was another polarizing movie. These movies ended up making good money but then at the end of the day, it is the critical reviews that count. So let us all take a look at what is plaguing the DCEU
- The MCU
The Marvel Cinematic Universe was launched almost decade ago with Iron Man. Ever since then DC has been playing catch up with it. When Iron Man and subsequent Marvel movies were released, the audience got a taste of what a shared movie universe feels like. Unfortunately for DC, Marvel set the bar too high. No matter what DC did in its first three films, they all ended up being compared to Marvel movies and everyone loves the prodigal son, the one who started it all.
Another thing that has led DC down is editing. All the movies that are a part of the DC comic book universe are distributed by the Warner Brothers (WB). Since the distributor has the sole editing rights, the job of editing falls in WB’s hands and they do a shoddy work (remember Jupiter Ascending?). Those who have watched BvS and BvS Ultimate Edition will know how different the two movies are. In BvS Ultimate Edition, everything is clearly explained and no crucial juncture is left unexplained. On the other hand, Batman v Superman that was released in the theaters had so many gaping plot holes in it that the UFO conspiracy theories are tighter compared to it.
- Target Audience
Another major issue with DC movies is that they ask you to have a prior knowledge of the comic book universe. Now this might please comic book fans but it ends up reducing their audience reach. The way they adapt from the comic book material makes it hard for a person with no prior knowledge to relate with the story’s characters. It is good that DC is making movies for its fans. But if DC won’t make them mainstream then it will have to get used to getting grief from the critics and general audience
In all of the 3 DCEU movies, there is a dark, brooding nature to the characters as well as to the general movie. Now this in itself is not a bad thing. It is in fact quite good as DC is giving us a different kind of Superhero movie. What it however must understand is that 2 to 3 hours of continuous doom and gloom will not win it many fans. The sombre tone becomes overkill after a point of time. The comic books were vivid and bright but the movies show us an overcast sky with a dark theme playing out with much darker undertones. They did try to lighten it up in Suicide Squad but bad editing and poor executive decisions again let them down.
One major issue that I have with WB and DCEU is that the plots that they use in their movies. The plots are either generic and paper thin or are so convoluted that after a point of time they stop making sense. The treatment that they dish out to legendary comic books is almost criminal. BvS had so much comic book material crammed into it that it couldn’t do justice to even a single piece of its source material. Death of Superman was shown in 2 minutes. The Dark Knight Returns finished in 8 minutes. Mad Love (Harley Quinn’s origin story) got over in just a couple of flashback scenes in Suicide Squad. What DC needs to understand is that instead of filling everything to the brim, they can individually take these comic books and do them complete justice. What they are doing right now is not the right thing because all these tales are powerful and moving. Mad Love is a tragedy, it made us feel for Harley Quinn. But while watching Suicide Squad, people barely felt a flicker of emotion. DC needs to understand this and start making amends.
One of the major reasons that the DCEU started is because of the MCU. Now in order to catch up to the MCU as soon as possible, the second movie from the WB stable was Batman v Superman. Now this was a bad move because it is all very rushed. It took 5 movies in the MCU before the superhero team up of the Avengers was given to us. This allowed them as well as the audience to experience the back stories of the characters. What DCEU did was all rushed and there was no pacing to it. We couldn’t get Batman’s back story or Wonder Woman’s. We don’t know what drives them in this universe and this is a major let down. The audience wants to relate to the characters but what WB is doing right now is complete opposite to it. Suicide Squad clearly showed us that WB is more interested in making money and expanding the DCEU as soon as possible rather than giving us characters one at a time and slowly building up a solid cinematic universe.
If WB and DC executives are only interested in making money and making a DCEU as soon as possible then they should get used to getting grief from critics on regular basis. However, if they want to make the DCEU a universal favourite like the MCU, then they better start changing things because if they stick to their current path then the critic bashing is only going to intensify.