It’s finally happened, Ben Affleck is gone and a bunch of new actors are up for the role of the caped crusader. It’s been over two years since rumors started that Affleck was unhappy with the critical reviews of Batman v Superman (which were fueled by the sad batfleck meme) after that every day heard a different story; first he was in, then he was out, then we were shaken all about.
With Affleck officially gone it seems DC’s shared universe is dead. With two properties from Justice League still making waves, it’s unclear how, or if they’ll ever intersect again. Well I’m glad you asked because I have a few ideas on how it could work. Welcome to my Movie Playbook!
DON’T THROW OUT THE BABY WITH THE BATH WATER
Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have recently announced they’re no longer concerned with making a shared universe, but rather focus on individual movies. I think there was an audible sigh of relief when that statement was released.
While I’m pretty relieved they’re no longer going to be trying to cram several storylines into one movie that are supposed to pay off six years later … I would love to see a good Justice League movie.
Superhero movies have become a bit of a big budget soap opera since Marvel figured out how to make a universe tick. It’s the new status quo of the genre, people are gonna hop off if the franchise isn’t leading to something.
REBRAND AS AN ANTHOLOGY
DC has had a weird relationship with their brand … as in they refused to have one. While Marvel branded themselves as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the MCU), fans took it upon themselves to name DC’s slate the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). However around 2016 DC were pretty quick to inform their fans this wasn’t the actual title of their franchise and then waited another two years before announcing they were now The Worlds of DC.
It was a pointless press release that either no one read, or no one cared about seeing as everyone still uses the DCEU today. If DC were to take a page from Star Wars and add something like A DC Story to their titles, it would reassure fans there was still some kind of common sense in the writing room.
As it stands right now, the shared universe is dead, but Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Suicide Squad still count? There’s just not much clarity at the moment about what’s what. Even the new Batman movie might be a prequel within the larger continuity … so which is it, no more shared universe, or a cherry picked one?
Rebranding as an anthology can give DC time to figure out what’s working and what’s not, and better learn how to bring everything back together. To be fair I think this is what they’re doing, but they’re not communicating this with anyone and that’s going to be a problem.
START PUTTING THE WORK IN
K, that sounds a bit harsh. There are plenty of creatives who have done nothing but pour every ounce of energy into these movies, I’m not saying anyone’s lazy. What I’m talking about is the fact DC is constantly rushing through their storylines to get to the highlights.
For example, Harley Quinn was a breakout character from the abysmal Suicide Squad and so now she’s going to be co-starring in the upcoming Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). In this upcoming film Harley’s taking a step away from the Joker to try and be a hero. That’s great, I love it, except there’s one problem.
Harley does this in the comics as well, but there’s far more weight behind her choice to move on from Joker. For years Harley had been depicted as being in an abusive relationship with the manipulative Joker who had basically brainwashed her. Unfortunately, Jared Leto’s Joker ruined this for everyone. We still get Harley making it out on her own, but a HUGE part of her character depth is glossed over.
I want to see moments like this in future DC movies, but I don’t want to skip to the desserts. One of the great things about the Marvel movies is they know how to lay groundwork without interrupting the movie (Excluding Age of Ultron). Bucky coming back as The Winter Soldier only worked because we’d gotten to know him a bit in Cap’s first film, but more importantly we’d been following Cap’s journey into the 21 Century with the groundwork laid in The Avengers. There wasn’t a rush to get to The Winter Soldier.
Overall I like this new direction DC is going in, I just hope they can figure out how to turn this jumble into a new slate of popular movies.