Rumor Mongering: Warner Bros. Mandates No Jokes in Any of Their Superhero Movies
It's a running joke that Warner Bros./DC collaborations are entirely joyless affairs, especially when compared to Marvel's cheeky, irreverent brand of superhero film. But, as it turns out, this might not be a simple trend, but a hard-and-fast rule. Hitfix's Drew McWeeny claims that he has repeatedly (five times to be exact) heard rumors that Warner Bros. explicitly forbids the use of jokes in any of their DC superhero movies.
It wouldn't be so surprising. The Dark Knight series is famous for its dark tone and self-seriousness. The Joker could be funny, but only in a bitter way that has trouble going down, not in an actual punchline, laugh-out-loud kind of way. Man of Steel had a few winks at Superman fans, but no jokes to speak of. And Dawn of Justice, which hasn't even had a full trailer yet, is already being criticized for its dourness just based on the muted colors of the costumes. All of this is a far cry from recent Marvel films like Guardians of the Galaxy, which had so many jokes it didn't have time for much plot.
Many are responding to the rumor with speculation that the rule is a response to the embarrassing failure that was Green Lantern. Green Lantern was essentially DC's Daredevil, with nearly unanimous complaints of miscast leads, a terrible script, and general incompetence. It garnered a 26% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was widely cited as one of the worst films of 2011. It was also arguably the only DC superhero movie that wasn't afraid to crack a joke, and as a result the studio heads might have become slightly allergic to humor.
While I'm a big fan of dark, serious superhero movies when they're done right, it would be more than excessive to eliminate humor as a general rule, especially considering what an uphill battle it is to make Superman compelling. Not to mention that an abundance of humor was far from Green Lantern's primary problem. As Collider put it, "Audiences aren't against jokes. They're against bad jokes."