Warner brothers and DC are currently at the end of round three in a twelve round fight with Marvel. Shots have been exchanged but Marvel is, by the score card, ahead in points. If this were a movie we would be treated to a flash back to the beginning of the fighters run as they go through their trials and tribulations to get to this big fight. This is not a movie however and there is no Denzel to lead us through the current battle. Fight analogy aside the WB/DCEU is in a box office battle against Disney/Marvel for the superhero crown and the last four months have not been kind to the house that is to give us the Justice League.
Arguably the most popular and well-known hero in the world Batman has been a good card for DC to use when they need to draw interest. Whether it’s the Christian Bales/Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy or the newly minted Affleck from Batman v Superman, our caped crusader draws in a large and enthusiastic crowd. For all its positives though, this latest iteration of Batman has brought some turmoil to all involved.
Before touching on the Batman as a solo project lets look back on the three entries already in DCEUs current cinematic universe, and as an aside I personally enjoyed all of these movies and while I had issues with aspects of each movie I feel they were in the “good” category rating in line with some of the Marvel films.
DCs first entry was Man of Steel and it gave us the starting point for both tone and feel that Warner Brothers wanted to head in for their movie universe. Superman squares off against true warriors of his race as he battles to find his place in the world of man. The next movie jumps us forward into a pre-justice league style movie with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman featured prominently with cameos from the remaining team members; Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash. The holy trinity battle against Lex Luthor (from earth 3 it seems, but that’s neither here nor there) and the monster known as Doomsday. The last movie WB has put out is the Suicide Squad, a ragtag band of villains who get forced into work for a secret part of the government to take out even bigger threats.
You might think “Well why do those movies matter if we are going to talk about Batman” which is a great question. Ben Affleck was one of, if not the, best thing about Batman v Superman in many people’s eyes as he brought a great look and feel to both sides of the character. Fast forward to the last six months and the Batfleck has been the eye of the storm for many of the rumors and speculation. Before his movie Live by Night came out, Affleck seem to have carte blanche for his producer/director/co-writer/actor roles for the upcoming solo Batman movie. A weak performance at the box office and Life by Night might have actually cut off some of the freedom that Ben had. Couple this potential issue with statements like “I will only direct if the script is good” when he is writing the script and one can surmise he was getting pinned in a corner. We have now, over the last month, gotten information that Affleck is no longer directing and no longer writing. For the directing chair it seems Warner brothers is looking at Matt Reeves and the script has gotten one full rewrite treatment by Chris Terrio with a potential second heavy/full rewrite.
Add to the fact that there are rumors that the Terrio script was liked by Ben and WB, that it’s going in for full rewrites and the potentially A-bomb that Affleck wants out as Batman and fans have a plethora of potential reasons to be concerned with the future of this cinematic universe.
While all of the Batman news eats up most of the headlines, there has been rumblings that the Wonder Woman movie is not shaping up well. These rumors claim that the movie is a jumbled mess, which is a pretty serious accusation to throw around on a movie which has a huge load on its shoulders. Wonder Woman is the first female lead super hero movie to hit the big screens from either company, which is huge on its own right, but it is also another chance for DC and Warner Brothers to get the double thumbs up; a critical and box office success. Out of every DC movie I personally want to see Wonder Woman and Aquaman crush it, so these types of rumors kill me inside a bit. On the positive side, the lack of mainstream coverage on this could be a good thing as these accusations of a poorly constructed movie could be nothing more than simply that, accusations.
This brings us to the last movie I have heard a ton of rumors/issues about and that is the Flash. This movie has been struggling for over quite a while now with the numerous script rewrites and directors leaving the project which, in my opinion, puts it in the most jeopardy of cancellation or push back to 2019/2020. The Flash, tonally, is the lightest out of the entire DC movie roster as the character is often depicted as the comic relief or heart of the team. With the delays and rumours about this project stagnating and being slow to start-up again, it is worrying on how Flash will fit into the overall DCEU universe, especially when he is likely to be the vehicle that Cyborg will also be introduced with.
So all of these seemingly negative aspects for Warner Brothers and DCs cinematic universe are more than enough to give the average person pause. It seems, if you only listen to the rumors, that nothing is going well and everything is doom and gloom. This type of mind-set that the general audience can get is what really hampers the studio’s ability to get the most out of their movies. While it’s not strictly a competition many compare Marvel studios and the success their films have had over DC as a marker for what success is, usually the billion dollar mark, and when the DC films miss that mark, they get labeled as a “failure”. This is obviously false as a universally loved movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, made less than Batman v Superman, which was highly divisive with fans and critics alike.
At the end of the day, I think there is one thing that WB and DC could take from the Marvel studio’s style of story telling and that is to come up with a solid movie first, then add their respective character flavor to it. Oh and let’s stop announcing projects 10 years into the future please, as we know they are not going to stay in the places you initially mention them, and it looks pretty stupid when you have to cancel/move projects multiple times because of flash in the pan hype on something, and yes I am looking at you Birds of Prey movie.