Why the Success of the DCEU Hinges on Justice League

Why the Success of the DCEU Hinges on Justice League

Can the Justice League save them this time? It’s fair to say that the DC’s cinematic universe (DCEU) got off to a shaky start when it began in 2016 with Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. In fact it could be argued that the DCEU’s most successful film to date from a critical standpoint is Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and even that received mixed reviews partly due to some of Superman’s choices and actions in the film. Following the meeting of the two iconic superheroes on the big screen came Suicide Squad, the story of B-tier criminals teaming up for a suicide mission to get their life sentences reduced. The film like its predecessors was fairly well received commercially making plenty of money but was widely panned by critics thanks to a weak script and poorly conceived villain but hey, at least it tried to bring some humour into the DCEU.

Looking ahead to the DC’s cinematic slate, Wonder Woman is approaching as the next entry scheduled for release on June 23rd. While the receival of the film by audiences will have a knock-on effect, Wonder Woman is unlikely to be held up to the same lens as the juggernaut Batman vs Superman by audiences or Warner Bros. It’s the first time either Marvel or DC have made a female superhero the lead in her own movie in the modern era, surprising given the number of Marvel films released so far. Although Diana Prince is an iconic character in her own right, Warner Bros. may view this as a test bed for future films utilising DC’s female contingent with a Gotham City Sirens spinoff starring Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn rumoured to also include Catwoman and Poison Ivy already fast tracked for production at Warner Bros.

Justice League

Warner Bros. hopes to team up one of the more successful characters of Suicide Squad with other villainous females from the comics.

With strong sales but extremely tepid critical reaction, the DCEU is in desperate need of some quality and while there are aspects of all the films so far to like, they don’t hold a candle to Warner Bros. and DC’s last big success, the Dark Knight trilogy or more importantly for the partnership, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Steps have been made to right the ship with comic veteran Geoff Johns being brought on to co-produce Justice League and help run the DCEU. There’s been a fair amount of humble pie to be eaten too with Suicide Squad director David Ayer recently acknowledging the mistakes of the film.

Justice League

David Ayer on the set of Suicide Squad alongside Margot Robbie.

Like Batman vs Superman, the Justice League film is intended to work on many different levels. Warner Bros. wants it to be an entertaining superhero team-up action film but also a launching pad for several solo movies for Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. If Justice League fails to be successful, it may mean that many projects already planned could be cancelled as Warner Bros. evaluates where to go next with the floundering franchise. The film marks an important point in time for Zack Snyder too who so far has offered up two films that didn’t quite nail it, will Warner Bros. accept a third or will they begin to look elsewhere? Snyder was very much intended to have a godfather-like role overseeing these projects like Kevin Feige does at Marvel Studios but surely his involvement will come into question if Justice League doesn’t deliver.

Justice League is the key wheel in the DCEU’s machinery and stands as the main part of Warner Bros. and DC’s decision to put these characters all together at once and give them solo outings later rather than the piece-by-piece approach of Marvel and Disney. Increasingly, that decision is starting to look like a poor one and perhaps Warner Bros. was trying too hard to differentiate itself from the Marvel method that has worked so well. The DCEU may have been better off if it had followed Marvel’s method and the company simply absorbed the criticism of copying its competitor. Just because Marvel Studios did it first, doesn’t mean it’s not the best way forward. DC is filled with iconic characters, arguably more iconic than some of Marvel’s. Rather than launching a universe with the likes of Iron Man and Thor, DC did it with Superman and Batman, two of the most iconic pop culture figures and yet neither has been able to save the DCEU.

Justice League

Looking further down the line, Warner Bros. has an extremely busy schedule for the years to come. Not only is there solo films such as Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg planned but also sequels to Suicide Squad and for Henry Cavill’s Superman. Many of these projects have come under closer scrutiny since the DCEU has failed to impress with the Flash solo film losing out on multiple directors and now the Batman solo film no longer has Ben Affleck attached to direct. That list doesn’t even include the Green Lantern Corps, a Black Adam film starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and even a Lobo film. It seems more than likely a number of these tentative projects won’t see the light of day especially if Justice League doesn’t reignite the DCEU in the minds of fans and critics alike.

Justice League needs to be quite the film to suddenly make everything right again and likely won’t achieve this super heroic feat. However, there is a chance to bring some positivity and optimism to these characters, terms that haven’t been associated with Zack Snyder’s films in the past. The comparisons to The Avengers are inevitable but most fans of the DC characters would take a decent, solid film at this stage rather than expecting the lofty precedent Marvel achieved. The DCEU needs saving more than ever and we’ll find out later this year if the Justice League can bring justice to these characters.

What do you think of the DCEU so far? Do you think Justice League can help?

If not, what will happen to the rest of Warner Bros. and DC’s plans?

Let me know by commenting below this page.

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