Why DC Movies Flopped
A still from the movie Justice League, IT released during the filming process and before Zack Snyder had to step down from the project. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
Being a fan of Detective Comics these days is not easy. The comic industry itself is dying, and from where the television and video game side of things stand. They are largely neglected compared to other franchises. That’s not what is even popular right now though. Now, the mainstream popularity heavily relies on blockbuster movies. When someone thinks of superheroes now, they think of comic book movies. When someone thinks of a comic book movie, are they going to picture a Marvel or a DC movie? Without question, Marvel is by far the more recognizable and successful of the two in recent years. This is not an article on why the majority of “big” DC movies receive low review scores—that’s a whole other topic—this is an article about why DC is so unrecognizable and disorganized.
Saying that a movie flopped is a relative term. How does one judge a failure when it comes to art? Does someone judge by how much money the movie made? The audience review scores? How many people are talking about it? If you ask Warner Bros., they would say any one of their DC movies that couldn’t compete with Marvel flopped.
The problem with DC Is that they repeatedly try to keep up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and they abandon whatever plan they have when it doesn’t work immediately. They jumped in with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” after just one previous movie beforehand. There’s a reason why the movie is almost 3 hours long with practically nothing but world-building. Despite the many problems with “Batman v Superman,” it would actually be understandable if they just stuck with their plan.
When the movie failed to be as successful as “Captain America: Civil War” because Zack Snyder’s (the director’s) vision was too niche and hardcore for mainstream audiences, DC ‘fired’ Snyder from future installments. They hired Joss Whedon to come in and re-edit Zack Snyder’s “Justice League” to cut several plot lines and sequel teases out of the film, in hopes of making it more light-hearted and pleasing to general audiences. Whedon was tasked with playing it as safe as possible by turning it into the most generic Marvel-like movie possible. The problem with this is that the movie was a Frankenstein’s Monster of reshoots, tonal changes and abandoned plotlines from previous movies that ended up leading nowhere.
Snyder’s original vision (that he would later share at a Comic-Con panel) included multiple other solo and team-up movies that would have eventually led to a complete and final ending to his film universe. The problem with this is that it became completely abandoned when he was just two movies in. Imagine if Marvel completely abandoned the infinity stones plotline, never made “Avengers: Infinity War” and went through a complete tonal change when “Thor: The Dark World” didn’t make as much money as “Man of Steel” back in 2013. That is what’s happening with DC right now. The first thing Will Mcllvain, a junior, stated, when asked why he disdained DC movies, was “there’s no link between them all.”
Although Snyder was in position to release his four hour cut of “Justice League” to HBO Max (four years later), it’s too late to completely revive DC to what it once was. If the mainstream audience even knows the difference between DC and Marvel, would they even care enough to invest their time and attention into two completely different comic book movie universes—one of which being a hot mess? Not only has DC given up on “Justice League Part 2” and world-building references in their solo movies. But they also appear to have given up on their entire cinematic universe. “Joker,” one of their most financially and critically successful movies in years, wasn’t even connected to any other movies. Not to mention “The Batman” which will also be set in its own universe with a fresh cast, and the rumors of more one-off DC films in the future.
However, this is where DC thrives. All of their best movies, “The Dark Knight,” “Wonder Woman,” “Shazam” and “Joker,” have all happened when they just focus on producing a strong movie rather than worrying too much about future sequels or world-building. Obviously, they’re not going to reach Marvel’s level anytime soon. They’ve fallen flat on their face whenever they try. DC fans don’t understand why they don’t try to just be unique. Why must DC have to constantly be trying to follow Marvel? DC should be trying to turn it the other way around. They need to pave their own path with their own unique movies. Instead of repeatedly attempting to do something they’ve failed at in the past, why not focus on their strengths?
Thankfully, it seems as though DC is going in this direction by green lighting more solo movies. And ultimately forgetting the embarrassment that was their cinematic universe. With rumors of the new “Flash” solo movie potentially resetting the timeline. It seems like a perfect excuse to forget this ever happened and start with a clean slate. The DC movies were a failure, and it is time to move on with independent projects.