Four Reasons Why the DC Cinematic Universe Could Actually Be a Success

Thursday, 14 May 2015 - 4:08PM
DC Comics
Batman v Superman
Man of Steel
Thursday, 14 May 2015 - 4:08PM
Four Reasons Why the DC Cinematic Universe Could Actually Be a Success
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Ever since the Batman v Superman trailer made its debut last month, there has been a host of criticism aimed at the DC Cinematic Universe. The internet is already buzzing with claims that the DCCU "is already doomed" and will "never rival" Marvel's shared universe. Many have criticized the trailer's dark tone and lack of humor, and cited the similar criticisms of Man of Steel- still technically the only film in the DCCU- as evidence that DC's shared cinematic universe is sure to fail.

Despite all the negativity, there are multiple reasons to be excited about the DCCU, and it's not just the fact that it will be bringing together the most iconic superheroes ever created. While DC fans have only trickles of information concerning the upcoming films, the little info we have is enough to be extremely hopeful about the evolution of the DCCU in the coming years. Here are a few reasons why the DCCU has the potential to be a massive success:

It's Not the MCU

Much of the online criticism aimed at the DCCU is based upon the fact that both Man of Steel and its upcoming successor seem to take a direction that is dark and gritty, with funny, light hearted moments few and far between. Others have also found fault in DC's decision to keep their TV shows separate from their movies. 

In other words, DC is taking a completely different approach with their films than Marvel. Marvel has found massive success making films with just the right blend of action and comedy, and which have an inherently optimistic feel. They have also managed to create two highly acclaimed TV shows, whose popularity is partially due to the fact that they tie in to the MCU. 

If Marvel has found this recipe for success when it comes to cinematic universes, then shouldn't DC be taking cues from them? Not quite. There's more than one path to success when it comes to shared universes, and DC has the potential to pave one of their own.

Sure, DC's films are darker than Marvel's, but why should dark comic films automatically be seen as a bad thing? After all, the Nolan trilogy did quite well with what is often considered to be some of the darkest comic movies ever made. DC has also had great success with their comics for many years by employing darker themes, and chances are they'll enjoy that same success with their darker approach to the DCCU. DC wants the audience to take its heroes seriously and to feel the gravity of the circumstances they face, and that offers a significant departure from most recent comic movies. Furthermore, having separate universes for their movies and TV shows allows the respective writers of these works to remain completely unrestricted in their storytelling by the happenings in the other universe. 

Marvel has done amazing work with their cinematic universe - but DC doesn't need to aim for a feeble imitation. The fact that DC seems to be taking a different approach to their cinematic universe may very well be the reason it succeeds.

It's Going to Take Risks

Say what you want about the DCCU, but they're not playing it safe. While Batman v Superman will probably end up a huge hit at the box office no matter what, if DC and Warner Brothers aren't able to make a truly phenomenal film with their two most famous characters, it could spell disaster. One can see why Warner Brothers postponed the film's big debut - it is absolutely imperative that this film be everything it should be. If the risk pays off, however, it will pay off big.

David Ayer's Suicide Squad is another risky venture from the DCCU. While the film has been successful in generating hype so far, especially since it will include both Batman and the Joker, its titular team is a group of villains who have been contracted to complete a mission for reduced jail time. While the premise for the movie is compelling, making it involves sailing into uncharted waters. Nothing like this has ever been done before with a comic book movie, but if done correctly, it will be a fantastic addition to the DCCU.

Then there's the fact that the DCCU is going to be experimenting with certain characters that aren't quite as popular. For instance, Aquaman will make an appearance in Batman v Superman and play a larger role in Justice League Part 1 before receiving his own film. The character has mostly been a source of ridicule in the past, serving as the butt of countless jokes. It's risky having him in the DCCU, but by including him, DC can potentially breathe new life into one of comics' most underrated and under-appreciated characters.

Warner Bros. also seems to be taking risks with their overall filmmaking approach. Many fans were concerned to hear that Wonder Woman's former director, Michelle MacLaren, left the project over "creative differences." According to industry insiders, MacLaren was hoping to take the film in a more action-packed direction, whereas Warner Brothers were looking for something that would emphasize character development. No doubt, choosing something more character driven over a full-on action movie was a bold move. However, it's risks like these that, if they pay off, could really make the DCCU something special.

It Has A Strong Foundation

Man of Steel was widely criticized for being dark, humorless, and generally an "anti-Marvel" superhero movie. But while the film was not without its faults, it seems to have been generally liked by moviegoers. Admittedly, it received a lower score than any MCU movie from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but according to the Audience Score, it beat out The Incredible Hulk and and tied with Thor in terms of likability. This means that if Rotten Tomatoes is any sort of indicator, regular moviegoers (not critics) liked Superman's entrance into the DCCU just as much or more than the Hulk and Thor's entrance into the MCU.

But regardless of your opinion on Man of Steel as an individual film, there is no question that it has laid a strong foundation for the rest of the DCCU to be built on. After the events of Man of Steel, the world is faced with the realization that mankind is not alone in the universe and that there are beings on Earth with superhuman powers, which will have enormous repercussions in future films. If the DCCU should fail, it will not be for lack of a good starting point.

It Will Honor the Source Material

Ultimately, the DCCU will rise and fall on the success of its characters, and Batman, Superman, and the rest of the Justice League have already been popularized by the comics. By finding new ways to use this source material that has already earned a place in the hearts of so many people, the DCCU can guarantee its success.

Judging from what we've seen of Batman v Superman so far, DC and Warner Brothers understand this quite well. Several scenes from the Batman v Superman trailer were taken right from the pages of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, including Batman holding a rifle on top of a tower and Bruce Wayne wearing the bat armor. The scene in which Superman hovers in the sky above a person with outstretched arms looks like it could be a page ripped out of Mark Waid's Kingdom Come. Likewise, the image of Jared Leto's Joker that was released for the character's 75th anniversary is a direct homage to Alan Moore's The Killing Joke. The opportunity to take advantage of such classic source material really gives the DCCU the potential to shine.

Catch the next installment in the DCCU when Batman v Superman hits theaters on March 25, 2016. 

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4 Reasons Why the DC Cinematic Universe Could Actually Be a Success