The Problems with the DC Movies – Discussion

*quick note* The following opinions are mine and mine alone. If you like the DCEU movies that’s great, I’m glad you can enjoy these films when I can’t. This is more of an analysis of the movies and their reputations, not an actual review. With that said, let’s get into this discussion.

DC Movies and their Reputation

DC Comics, the rival to Marvel and spawn of some of the most popular superheroes ever. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Condiments Captain (yes that’s real), all come from this edgy comic book universe. Naturally, with such a large pool of heroes, it’s no surprise DC heroes have had a few movies made throughout the years. Many of the genres greatest movies have been made from DC characters, The Dark Knight, Tim Burton’s Batman, Christopher Reeves Superman and many more. However, as of recent the DC movies we’re getting have garnered a bit of a negative reputation. It all started with Man of Steel (2013) a reboot to Superman and the start of a new cinematic universe for DC. It received positives reviews from many, but also a lot of controversy for the darker themes and grim tone. After that we got the announcement that there would be a Batman Vs. Superman movie, and this was a big deal. One of DC’s most popular comic book is The Dark Knight Returns, in which Batman fights, and essentially beats, Superman. People have been wanting a movie about this story for years, and we finally got it. However, while man of steel received generally favorable reviews, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) received less than stellar reviews. The movie was panned for its storytelling and the handling of its characters, not to mention the trailers revealing too much (as is tradition nowadays). After this we got Suicide Squad (2016) and much like BvS it received negative reviews, criticizing its plot, direction and characters. So it’s no surprise that the DC movies had already gathered a reputation, but this was only the beginning…


Recent Blunders

After a generally well received movie in Wonder Woman (2017), in the same year we got Justice League, a movie about the titular DC superhero group. This movie is one of the most expensive ever made, costing $300 million to make. This film was not well received, the CGI, story, villain, characters and Henry Cavills CGI upper lip were all subject to harsh criticism. This was bad news, this was meant to be DC’s answer to The Avengers, and for it to receive such a low rating was bad news. Recently we had SDCC 2018, which yielded many trailers for upcoming DCEU films. Aquaman was kinda well received, praising its seemingly cheerier tone, but was also criticized for looking thematically jumbled. Shazam was revealed, and this one was received mostly with positive responses, praising its humor and light-hearted style. Fun Fact: Shazam looks different in tone and style because it is coming out of New Line Cinema, which apparently allowed for less creative control from DC executives, hence the lighter tone. But then, we received a trailer that was universally hated, the upcoming TV show Titans. Based on the superhero team The Teen Titans, a typically colourful cast of heroes, this trailer was dark in tone, had questionable character designs and casting, copious gore and an infamous line in which Robin says “F*ck Batman!” So yeah… this didn’t go well, in fact as of writing this post, the Titans Trailer is at 64k likes and 81k dislikes. So where did all of this go wrong for DC, why are they receiving such a bad rap in the film industry, well I have a few theories that I’ll share with you.


Marvel…But Backwards

I know I shouldn’t compare Marvel and DC since they are clearly meant to be for different audiences at times, but what I mean by this is their film formula. Let’s look at DC’s timeline quickly; An introduction to one of their biggest names (Man of Steel), a fight between two of their biggest names (Batman v Superman), a team up with all their heroes (Justice League) and then some solo films of those heroes. I think you can see where I’m going with this, this is Marvel’s movie formula, but mostly backwards. Marvel introduced Iron Man first, then did a collection of solo films for their heroes before the big Avengers team up. Then after the team up we get the big fight between two characters and a few solo films after that. To me, it’s all about ‘earning’ things in these movies. When Civil War (2016) happened, it was investing to the audience because we’d seen these characters work together before as friends and comrades making their argument and fight more intense since it shows how their relationship has collapsed. With BvS, we know very little about Superman and nearly nothing about Batman, so their fight doesn’t have much weight to it since they have no relationship and it’s all based on one mans fear of the other. Marvel gave us a few movies for their upcoming Avengers Roster before giving us the titular Avengers movie. But DC gives us Justice League and then the solo movies. Again, the relationship between the DC characters isn’t earned, if we got their solo movies first then we’d be more sucked into their world and characters, but instead we are left with a movie with all these characters we don’t care about, and THEN get the films where we’re supposed to care about them. DC is throwing all their biggest events and teams at the audience too quickly, forcing us to watch what could have been built up over the course of a few years right now instead. To me, they joined the cinematic univserse game a bit too late, and as a result, they’re cutting corners to get in front, but cutting corners leads to a messy job.


Holy Needlessly Dark and Depressing Batman!

Now I love me some darkness in my movies. I like how we can delve into the darker aspects of life and from that pull out a story that is rich with cynicism, satire and heavy themes we can explore. But when you coat your movies and shows with so much darkness it becomes excessive, then we have a problem. DC has always had darker storylines than Marvel, The Killing Joke and A Death in the Family being the most well-known. But these movies have gone just a little bit too far. Man of Steel showed Superman killing thousands in his fight with Zod, even snapping Zod’s neck in quite brutal fashion. We then got BvS, which had a lot of themes relating to politicians and terrorism, even showing the brutal death of Superman’s comic friend Jimmy Olson. The Suicide Squad came along, which had more humor, but still had a lot of themes that reflected a troubled message. It is a well known fact that Suicide Squad had to do re-shoots to add humor into the movies, since the initial film was viewed as too dark and needed humor, as forced as it may have been. I can’t think of anything in Wonder Woman, or even Justice League for that matter, but I know what you’re all thinking about, Titans. Not only did it depict Robin as a dark, hateful murderer, but it also had a needlessly dark Raven, who is like the easiest dark character you can use, and turned her into a troubled teen from every Tween Drama. Add poorly received Starfire, Beat Boy and other miscellaneous character designs, copious gore and a colour palate like the dark groggy London Thames, and we have a show so dark you need to squint to even view it. We get it DC, you’re not Marvel, but you don’t need to make things so edgy you could literally cut yourself with them.


Closing Thoughts

So in conclusion, DC hasn’t really got the best track record right now regarding its movies. However all is not lost! If Shazam and to some extent Aquaman are anything to go by, we are seeing a more light-hearted tone begin to rear its head. I will admit, this was a kinda biased post, I’m not the biggest fan of these films, even though I admit I have a slight soft spot for Batman V Superman. Like I said at the start of the post, if you like these films that’s great, I’m glad you enjoy these films. So here’s to hoping we can all grow to love the DCEU movies. Comment down below what you think of the DC movies, do you think they’re underrated or as bad as others claim?

Thanks for reading my post, I really hope you enjoyed it. If you did please consider leaving a like and following my blog for updates on future posts. Also follow me on twitter @joe_reviews for further updates and general nonsense. Till next time.

4 thoughts on “The Problems with the DC Movies – Discussion

  1. I think from what I’ve seen of the DC movies, the biggest issue is they aren’t very good. While I haven’t seen all of them, I didn’t get to the end of Suicide Squad because it was just a poorly constructed and boring movie that though you could substitute loud music for substance provided you have enough of it. Equally, other films in the franchise have suffered from pacing issues, directorial choices, poor acting, and while you can usually find a few elements to praise, on the whole they aren’t particularly impressive films. If you add into that they are also not very fun films, and you kind of have a terminal situation.
    See, I don’t necessarily think Marvel films are any better, but while they might not be great films, they are a lot more fun. I’m not super into comedy and I don’t think that every movie needs a wise cracking character and witty one liners, but when I’m in the mood for a movie about a super hero, I’m usually not in the mood to be depressed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed, like I said in the post, dark is fine, just don’t go overboard. I watch superhero films to have fun, not question my own mortality like Batman V Superman. And yes the pacing in these films is just really poor.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I generally prefer the darker tone of the DC movies since they provide me something Marvel won’t, but they just haven’t been doing much for me recently. I have enjoyed some of their movies like Wonder Woman, and Man of Steel, but even there they have portions of the story that just fall apart. Be it the ridiculous climax of Wonder Woman that’s difficult to take seriously, or that climax in Man of Steel that disregard human life.

    The reason I enjoyed Nolan Batman trilogy, despite thinking The Dark Knight is the weakest film in Nolan filmography, is they focus on being good standalone stories instead of being part of a larger universe. Their aim was big without overstepping what was possible with the character.

    Another thing I dislike about DC, and Marvel is their insistent to constantly have world ending climaxes when not needed. It’s fine if a few of them doing, but nearly every single the whole the world is in danger aspect becomes mundane. That’s why I prefer superheroes like Logan, and X-Men: First Class that offer up a refreshing approach. Being very ambition in what they tackle narratively without the fate of the world being in danger. Making the conflict feel more personal.

    I agree with all your points about DC. They just need a clearer vision, and better leadership behind it all. Simply throwing darts in the dark hoping something land won’t work for them in the long run. Heck, I won’t be surprise at a DC cinematic universe reboot in a few years from now if they keep going through their material at this rate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree about logan, it was a refreshing take on the genre. Also you make a good point about all these movies having world ending climaxes for no reason, some have more localised climaxes but most are just too extreme for their respective films.

      Liked by 1 person

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