The Fate of the DC Cinematic Universe


Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Orson Codd, Reporter

Let’s face the facts: the newest adaptation of DC Comics superheroes hasn’t been the best so far. There have been five films released in their “cinematic universe”: “Man of Steel,” “Batman v Superman,” “Suicide Squad,” “Wonder Woman” and, as of last weekend, “Justice League.”

The recent opening weekend of “Justice League” was predicted to bring in around $110-120 million but ended up only making $93.8 million. For a film made on a $300 million budget, that was a flop because the box office did not bring in half of the film’s budget. In the entertainment industry, if a movie does not make half of its budget back on its opening weekend, it is considered a flop.

For Marvel, there was no rush to do anything big. The studio just made the solo character movies (“Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Thor,” etc.) and when they got enough of a fan following, they started to link them all together into the Avengers movie.

It seems that the DCEU wanted that cinematic universe, but did it differently. They did “Man of Steel” correctly. That was strictly a Superman film. Then they made “Batman v Superman,” the second film in the DC universe which tried to connect all of the core Justice League members together in that film, while also trying to do a separate Batman and Superman movie.

So what’s the deal? Why is a movie like “Justice League” barely making its hard-earned money back? Don’t people want to see that movie?

The answer is both yes and no.

Seeing a Justice League movie on the big screen is an amazing experience. If you grew up with all those comic book characters, it will be incredible. But people don’t want to see a movie where they don’t care about the characters.

One of the biggest problems with “Batman v Superman” was that the movie was supposed to set up the other heroes that would join the Justice League, but when they were introduced in that film, they lacked a lot of characterization. We only got to see the characters. We hardly learned a single thing about them except which hero they were and what their superpower was.

How are people supposed to care about those characters when they only see them for 30 seconds?

The answer: They’re not going to.

“Suicide Squad” did the exact same thing. They gave us a bunch of characters and the film wanted people to care about them. In reality, nobody did care because there was no balance of trying to tell the story and also tell the audience who the characters were. Granted, some of the “Suicide Squad” characters did get backstories about their home life or how they became a bad guy. But in a film where there are other 15 main characters, some of them will get pushed to the sides and others will be the frontrunners.

They are also neglecting to add some fan favorite characters such as Martian Manhunter. David Goyer, screenwriter of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, “Man of Steel,”and “Batman v Superman,” voiced his thoughts on including the character in future films.

“He can’t be called the Martian Manhunter because that’s goofy. He can be called Manhunter. The whole deal with Martian Manhunter is he’s an alien living amongst us. So he comes down to Earth and decides, unlike Superman who already exists in the world now, that he’s just going to be a homicide detective,” Goyer said, pointing to that as the reason that Manhunter was excluded. “So instead of using superpowers and mind-reading and like, oh, I could figure out if the President’s lying or whatever, he just decides to disguise himself as a human homicide detective. Dare to dream!”

Fans were not happy with this response because the Martian Manhunter is a iconic character in the DC Comics franchise. Deciding not to include him in any films is guaranteed to upset people, especially the fanbase, who arethe only people already invested in these characters.

Despite over 21 future DCEU movies coming out over the next few years, the poor quality of the previous films currently leaves their fate in limbo.