The Problem with the DCEU is…

Spoilers within for all DCEU movies so far!

Whilst the title of this blog drops a massive hint at the direction this blog post might be taking, it is first worth noting that I haven’t disliked the DCEU films so far. Man of Steel grew on me after a second watch, BvS was watchable, and I enjoyed Suicide Squad.

However whilst I could enjoy many aspects of these films, they do not make it easy to like them, and I realise they are all deeply flawed. This puts me in a difficult position as I feel like I have to justify why I enjoyed them, which forces me to take a really in-depth look at the films. Whilst I’m still very confident in what I liked about each of the films so far, looking at them in greater detail has only further highlighted the vast number of problems. These are problems which extend much further than the films themselves however, and this is what I’m going to be looking at in this post. I neither expect nor want everyone to agree with me, but would love your comments and feedback at the end.

And here we go…

Vision

Any idea how the DCEU is going to pan out? Nope, me neither! Aside from having a list of films, I really have no idea what the overall vision of this universe is. The films obviously have crossover, and the one thing that is clear is that it is leading to the Justice League, but this vision seems utterly shambolic at the moment. Yes, I am going to make comparisons with the MCU, because it is near impossible not to! The MCU started with individual character movies, which then led to the first Avengers movie. Aside from this though, it is very clear that all the films in the MCU share the same vision. The overriding plot of Thanos and the Infinity Stones is running through all the films, and whilst we might not know the intricate details of each character’s movies, we know exactly where they are all heading, because the vision is clear!

This is a tricky one to try and explain because I fully understand the DCEU should be different, but the vision is so difficult to see. The films and the overall universe don’t seem to know what they want to be, and the result is incredibly messy. There needs to be a goal, there needs to be an aim, and these movies have to work together on this one. There’s no “I” in team, and there’s no “I” in DCEU! Pull it together guys.

Scripts & Studio Interference

Look, no one is expecting a comic book movie script to be award-winning, but they just cannot be this lazy. This kinds of leads on from my first point, with no clear vision and direction, the result is poor scripts and a complete lack of understanding about the characters. The reshoots Suicide Squad had after the mass post-BvS panic, are no secret. Their purpose was to inject some humour into the film, which the studio felt was missing. Not only were these reshoots incredibly evident in the finished product, a lot of the “jokes” just did not land. Trying to change a film so drastically late on has a detrimental effect on the rest of the script. Reshoots are sometimes a necessity, but when their purpose is to completely change the tone of the film, it is going to be jarring in the finished film.

The meddling of Warner Bros in the DCEU movies is like nothing I have heard of before. Not as noticeable in BvS or Man of Steel, although with the former, Zack Snyder was quick to jump to it’s defense with the promise of the uncut edition which would supposedly fix some of the problems people had with it. In Suicide Squad though, the last minute reshoots and the panic that Warner Bros noticeably had after BvS meant they forced David Ayer into making changes. You’ll notice how some of my points are tying together now; the studio interference undoubtedly has an effect on the Director’s vision, and this confused vision obviously has an effect on the quality of the film.

Order

This is the big one for me, and I’ll bring the MCU into this again, sorry not sorry! The order of the MCU was well thought out, each character was introduced, they were brought together after they’d all had their individual chance to shine, and then crucially, they waited until the 13th film to pit them against each other. Of course, the DCEU did not need to follow this same blueprint, and quite frankly I’d be disappointed if they did, but the order they’ve gone with makes absolutely no sense, and has done them very little favours in establishing this universe.

Rather than explain all the problems with what they have done, here is what I think they should’ve done…

Man of Steel – This is fine as the first film in the DCEU, it establishes the character and gives us the background. It would’ve been great to have had a little tease of Batman or of something hinting towards the Justice League or some connecting plot thread, but there we go…

Batman solo movie – And this is immediately where they went wrong! I’m very hopeful for the Batfleck directed solo movie, but if you’re going to put two characters against each other, do the other combatant justice, and give him his own movie first! This would’ve also given the opportunity to have a glimpse of the Joker, setting him up for a later movie. I don’t think the Joker should’ve been the main villain, but would’ve been great to have at least started to build that relationship between him and Batman. This could’ve also been an opportunity to introduce Harley Quinn in a small role, or another one of the Suicide Squad members.

Batman vs Superman – Firstly, do not show Wonder Woman in the trailer! Just have her show up and be a total badass before she gets her own movie exploring her past. With both Batman and Superman already introduced, the stakes are much higher. I wish they’d played more on Batman’s resentment for what Superman did to Metropolis rather than having Lex play the deranged puppet master and lead them to fight. Perhaps something could’ve happened in the Batman solo movie that pissed off Superman, and then BOOM you’ve got a reason for them to fight, with two characters you care about because you’ve already had lots of time with them. I had so many problems with the e-mail attachment scene introducing all the Justice League, but it might have worked better as a post-credits tease.

Suicide Squad – As we would’ve already met the Joker and possibly Harley Quinn in the Batman solo movie, have the Joker be the main villain, and have Harley remain in the Suicide Squad. Again, this makes the stakes much higher, we’d have the chance to explore Joker and Harley’s relationship more, and would be an interesting story to see Harley torn between love and being forced to take him down. Rather than Batman showing up, perhaps another future Justice League member could make an appearance, again setting up the Justice League movie.

Now this order is by no means perfect or detailed, but to me it just makes so much more sense than what we’ve ended up with!

Villains

Again, a huge problem for me with these films has been the villains, and I particularly want to pick on Lex Luthor Jr. and Enchantress. With both of these, motives were left unclear and unexplained. Lex didn’t like Superman and thought the best way to destroy him was to get Batman to do it, and then at some point he was like YOLO here’s Doomsday. Ok, he’s supposed to be madder than a box of frogs, but it made no sense at all. There needed to be enough beef between Batman and Superman to justify a fight rather than Lex just doing it for funsies. And don’t get me started on how that fight ended…!

In Suicide Squad we have Enchantress who wanted to…I don’t know, something to do with her heart, her brother and creating a giant hole in the sky? Put it this way, it wasn’t exactly clear, and as both of these examples demonstrate, if the villain is weak, the whole thing falls apart. The villains have to be strong in all superhero movies, and particularly with Suicide Squad if the antiheroes are the heroes, the villain itself needs to be badder than bad, and most importantly, it needs to be properly explained!

So those are the problems, what is the solution?

Everybody thought Suicide Squad would fix the problems. It didn’t. Everybody is hoping Wonder Woman will fix the problems. Well, that remains to be seen. I do still have high hopes for Wonder Woman and the Batman solo movie, but again with stories emerging about Warner interfering with Snyder’s Justice League movie, it is difficult to see how they can pull themselves out of it.

We are only three films in though, and things are not completely beyond repair, but someone needs to sit down and figure out where this universe is heading, have a clear and united vision and direction, sort out the mess with the scripts, the plot, and the editing, and perhaps the studio need to back off and let the directors make the films that they want to make.

I don’t think it is a quick fix, but they certainly have a lot to do to pull this one back!

Over to you!

What do you think are the main problems with the DCEU? Perhaps you think I am completely wrong and want to tell me why? Get involved in the comments below…

 

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10 comments

    • Snyder is best represented by Trevor, the hack actooor pretending to be the Mandarin. Trevor says: “There are no heroes.” Deb Snyder was quoted explaining her husband’s deconstruction of Superman as partly the result of his love for works of Joseph Campbell. Joseph Campbell says “there is no hero” in the hero’s journey.
      So, I can only find one other source of inspiration for Mr. Snyder, his confessed early love for Heavy Metal, the comic porn sold right next to Hustler at the liquor store. I get him, I really do.

      Like

  1. I haven’t seen Suicide Squad yet (hopefully this week/early next week) so apologies in advance in skim reading parts of your post, but you are spot on. While these films may have won over the fans, there’s a clear division in the critical response.

    I like what DC are doing. I want them to stand out from Marvel. Marvel may have the one-up on everything but it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone has to follow the pattern and therefore the ordering doesn’t bother me so much.

    However, the studio interference/reshoots/chopping out 30 mins only to restore them for an obvious and superior ultimate edition does because it’s the studio panicking instead of staying strong. DC is dark and gritty – that’s the tone you’ve set yourself on. If you want to add humour, make sure it’s part of the script first so it evolves naturally! Major criticisms on Batman v Superman could have been avoided if they showed the Ultimate Edition in the cinemas!

    How to fix this – you’re right it’s not a quick fix but at least it’s fixable. Vision/clear direction and less studio interference. Be confident in those projects and have a dedicated writing/production team to oversee them all, so everyone is working on the same page.

    Makes you wonder whether there’s going to be a Suicide Squad Ultimate Edition 🙂 …

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    • Thank you so much for your comments, have to agree with everything you’ve said! The studio interference makes me so angry, I don’t doubt it’s made the films worse as a result.

      There probably will be an ultimate edition of Suicide Squad, Leto is already kicking off that half his Joker stuff was cut out! This is people making high profile movies, with absolutely no idea what movies they should be. No wonder it is a mess!

      Liked by 1 person

      • No worries!

        The studio interference is the biggest worry because it’s like saying to the creative team “we have no confidence in this work” and the changes/edits completely ruins the pacing and the original intent. They are hurting their own films. Of course it’s not intentional. No studio wants to put out a bad movie. But it doesn’t help if they’re pressing the self-destruct button. DC have the acting talent and there is a vision but that needs to be placed front and centre. That vision becomes important if they tease upcoming films whether it’s the rumoured Harely Quinn solo movie, the Batman solo movie or Man of Steel 2.

        I can’t comment on Suicide Squad but a film about bad guys – let them be bad! Imagine Deadpool if they took out all the swearing and kills – wouldn’t be half as good. I hope the Leto scenes are restored. Given how much the tease of Joker has been a major part of the marketing, you would think he would get more screen time. Anyway, as soon as I see it, I’ll get a review up on my blog.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Like others have said, it really comes down to studio interference. Granted, the ultimate edition of BVS didn’t solve some primary story problems, but it did solve a LOT of issues of it just working as a contained story and movie. Even if the universe vision isn’t as coherent, it can go a long way to just trust who you hire and let the movies themselves be what they are going to be. You green hired people for a reason to make a script you signed off on, don’t micro manage and get involved. Just let them make the movies. Ayers is a pretty competent filmmaker. You hired him because of that and his vision, but out and let him make the movie. That really needs to be the lesson learned here. First and foremost, they need to start making coherent individual films. What may help that is just have Geoff Johns be their Feige and think of it like the sony deal. Give Johns the full Universe control, but out and let the people you hire to make the movies make them and just focus on marketing and cashing the checks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Completely agree! Why hire directors in the first place if the studio is going to interfere as much as it has?!

      I would love to see Ayers original cut of the film, and I really hope in future the studio back off and just let the filmmakers do their job!

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  3. Great post and well thought through ideas. I completely agree with your analysis of what is wrong with the DCEU, not enough clarity and too much meddling in the artistic side if things.
    I have just seen Suicide Squad and it was unrecognisable from Ayer’s other works. No edge to it and no control over where it was going to. And again, the villains have been woeful and their threat either weak or not clear enough to get the message across to the audience.
    I believe that DCEU are trying their hardest to play catch up with the MCU and are either cutting corners or just plain panicking about their performance and when that happens poor, rushed decisions are made.
    If Suicide Squad had taken a more violent path, with some heavier action I think it would have worked better as you say they are already bad people and it needed to go more that way rather than lightening the tone. Marvel have cornered the market in action/humour (but even in Civil War they took it down a notch to make it harder hitting) so I don’t think they should be trying to compete on this playing field but find their own level.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It’s definitely true about them trying to play catch up, but there was no need, they should’ve sat down and thought through what this universe needed to be, but also if you’re going to bring in different directors, let them put their own stamp on the films! The MCU films have different directors doing them and the differences are clear to see, but they’re still cohesive.

      Definitely think they should’ve let Suicide Squad be darker, I’d love to see Ayers original cut!

      Liked by 1 person

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