It is quite amazing how a company that has ownership over two of the biggest characters of all time, as well as billions of dollars at their disposal, can screw up so badly.
Warner Brothers Pictures, the film production company responsible for launching an alternative to Marvel Studios and its wildly successful MCU had basically one job: take all the characters that everyone loves and put them in a film together. The results of this would be rockier than anyone expected, with its own cinematic universe failing to reach critical and commercial success.
In a world where Thor 3 makes $854m and Justice League makes $657m – you know something is a little off. Could we have predicted this only five years ago?
Up, Up, and Away!
News broke yesterday that one of the DCEU’s flagship actors is saying adios to his role. Henry Cavill, who first donned his cape in 2013’s Man of Steel and later in Batman vs. Superman and Justice League, is retiring as this generation’s Superman. With news that Ben Affleck is also expected to retire as its Dark Knight, this leaves DC in trouble going forward.
Sure, it is still riding on the unexpected success of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman from 2017, and still has Aquaman and Shazam! to release – but does it have a loyal audience to distribute them to?
Marvel fans will pay $15 to see just about anything the studio tells them to. And that takes decades of trust building and a proven track record of creating high-quality films with compelling characters.
The Problems So Far:
Here are some fun facts about the MCU and the DCEU, at time of writing:
- Tom Holland’s Spider-Man had more lines in Captain America: Civil War that Superman had in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
- Shrek 4 made $100m more in 2010 than Justice League made in 2017.
- Warner Brothers had implemented a ‘no laugh’ rule to differentiate itself from Marvel’s family-friendly tone.
- DC currently has 6 different Joker films in development.
- Ezra Miller’s Flash and Ben Affleck’s The Batman solo films were scheduled for 2018 – both have been postponed by two years.
There’s no surprise the franchise needs a new start and Cavill’s exit might be the very thing that broke the back of a franchise already on its last legs both in terms of creativity and respect from mainstream audiences.
Rumors have started circulating that suggests DC and Warner Brothers will shift the entire paradigm of its cinematic universe and focus more on its lesser-known properties such as Shazam! and Aquaman, who have yet to have their own films released. On top of riding the success wave of last year’s Wonder Woman, it is also possible that the DCEU could introduce more female heroes such as Supergirl and Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl. Female-led superhero films have been one, if not the only, edge that DC has over Marvel at this time, so it might be worth trying to capitalize on that.
Of course, another option is to completely start from scratch. Matt Reeves’ The Batman solo film is already casting a younger Bruce Wayne as the titular hero, even though they are claiming it exists within the same universe. This could potentially act as a prequel to Ben Affleck’s current version – but at what cost to casual film fans? It might be worth pulling the entire plug on this universe and starting again with new creative minds leading the change.
What do you think about this huge shake-up in the DCEU? Are you excited or anxious about the future of the franchise? Right now, loyal fans can still look forward to Aquaman, Shazam!, and Flashpoint.