So the reviews are in on Justice League, and they are not good. I saw it myself over the weekend and I wish I could say different but Justice League is a step down from Wonder Woman.
It’s not a terrible film, just average. And for the DC equivalent of The Avengers, Justice League should be anything but. However for a film about a superhero team saving the world the movie feels anything but epic.
So what next? DC/Warner Bros. are at a crossroads and need to think carefully about how to save their franchise/cash cow. It just so happens I have a few ideas on how to save the DCEU from itself:
Focus on the females
DC should focus on their successes and in this case Wonder Woman was a critical and commercial success. It also gave them a chance to show up Marvel Studios by producing a female superhero movie before them (and doing it well). A sequel to Wonder Woman has been scheduled for 2019, but DC need to keep up the momentum and show the world that DC is the place to go for quality female superhero movies. Audiences (male and female) are calling out for female driven movies and DC could spearhead the movement. Drop the Joker and keep Gotham City Sirens centred on Harley Quinn, after all Margot Robbie performance was one of the few acclaimed aspects of Suicide Squad whereas Jared Leto’s Joker had a more mixed reaction. With Batgirl ready to go with Joss Whedon in the director’s chair, why not add other female heroes and villains to the mix. Black Canary, Poison Ivy and god knows Catwoman needs a decent movie after the Halle Berry fiasco (although it’s still a guilty pleasure of mine), so there’s plenty for DC to choose from. DC could be seen as leading the way rather than playing catch up to Marvel.
Ditch the team ups and concentrate on solo movies
Batman Vs Superman, Suicide Squad and Justice League have been underwhelming affairs. That’s because there hasn’t been enough world building for us to know this universe and it’s characters. So much time is spent introducing new characters and their origins when it could be spent on improving the plot, characterisation and action scenes.
So even though I doubt they would do this as Suicide Squad 2 and Justice League 2 are already being lined up, I think concentrating on solo movies for their heroes would be a welcomed move. Cyborg and Aquaman would have been better served in Justice League if their solo movies had come before the team up. Leave the team work for much, much later and work on making the individual characters stand out first.
Don’t make the villain an afterthought
A lot of time has been spent on the heroes, quite rightly as they are who we are following. But as the saying goes “a hero is only as good as it’s villain” and so far the treatment of the super villains have been rather underwhelming (and this is not just a DC issue either). Considering the wealth of rogues in their back catalogue DC can have their pick of great foes for the heroes to fight with. But it’s not just picking out a well known character, it’s spending time making the villains worthwhile opponents on screen. Lex Luthor is a great character but he was an annoyance on screen in Batman Vs Superman. DC need to look back over their source material and remind themselves what made these villains stand out and captured the audience attention. They have to be either a counterbalance to the hero, a dark mirror as to what they could have been if made the wrong choices, or their polar opposite that highlights the goodness in our heroes.
Give Patty Jenkins more control
One of the main criticism of Justice League is it’s uneven tone, with Joss Whedon directing more comedic re-shoots that clash against Zach Snyder more sombre mood. You can see why Warner Bros. tried to bring more humour to the movie as it’s dour, overly serious nature was a big criticism of previous DC movies, however the styles of Snyder and Whedon are just too different to merge coherently into one film. Perhaps Snyder needs another director to help balance out the DCEU going forward.
So far the movies best version of the DC Extended Universe has come from Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman. Great at action scenes and smaller character moments, Jenkins has understood the DC world better than her other recent contemporaries. She also managed to get the tone right with a lighter, hopeful touch that still managed to balance the more serious feeling of the previous movies. Plus the attempts at humour were much better than Justice League awkward one liners. Zach Snyder also produced and co-wrote the story for Wonder Woman so him and Jenkins have shown that they can work well together. Perhaps having Jenkins contribute to the wider cinematic universe would help DC keep the balance of satisfying it’s critics while also keeping the Snyder fans happy too?
So can DCEU be saved? Of course it can. But there’s no quick fixes, and for the studio bosses to turn things around they will need to take a long, hard look at what’s working and what isn’t. Making rushed re shoots and post production edits isn’t going to cut it any more, as this weekend’s box office has shown. To really put up a fight against Marvel Studios, DC and Warner Bros. need to take a deeper look at their universe and do it’s characters justice.
What do you think, can the DCEU be saved? Is it a lost cause? Or do you think there’s nothing wrong with the franchise and people should stop hating on it? Let me know in the comments below?