Coming out of Batman v Superman last year, I was struck by the fact that it was a very different beast from your average superhero movie. We’d grown used to seeing the Marvel Studios films over the years, and while those are quite enjoyable, there is very much a sameyness to them that can’t be overlooked. While Batman v Superman had some major narrative problems, I couldn’t help but admire it for some of the risks it was taking.
Case in point: the Knightmare Batman sequence in the middle of the film. All of a sudden we’re catapulted out of the main narrative and sent to what looks like the Middle East. Batman is draped in a duster and proceeds to shoot people with legit guns before getting taken down by a band of Parademons. He wakes up to a dark Superman, one who appears to have lost Lois Lane, and is therefore much worse off for it. After getting his mask pulled off, Bruce Wayne wakes up to the appearance of a stubbled Flash who goes on about Bruce being right about “him” (who we’re assuming is Superman). When Bruce gives him a confused look, Flash realizes he’s too soon and disappears. The rest of the film goes on like none of that happened.
Sure, part of me was like, “What the hell?” But the other part of me looked forward to what was coming. How long would it take for us to understand that scene? At what point in this universe would it finally catch up with that scene? Like a good TV show, I was hooked. You know who else was hooked? Practically no one, it seemed. Most were just flat-out confused by the scene, and annoyed that the film never pays it off. Too focused was DC on creating an overarching narrative that they risked confusing their audience — who were understandably used to films being a standalone experience. Yes, the Marvel movies are a shared universe, but that studio has always made sure that each movie works on its own.
Well, it sounds like DC has finally wised up to this approach, as evidenced by this year’s Wonder Woman. It sounds like they’ll be continuing on with that strategy. Speaking with Vulture, DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson discussed this new strategy.
“Our intention, certainly, moving forward is using the continuity to help make sure nothing is diverging in a way that doesn’t make sense, but there’s no insistence upon an overall story line or interconnectivity in that universe.”
DC Entertainment’s chief creative officer Geoff Johns backed up her statement, saying:
“The movie’s not about another movie. Some of the movies do connect the characters together, like Justice League. But, like with Aquaman, our goal is not to connect Aquaman to every movie. Moving forward, you’ll see the DC movie universe being a universe, but one that comes from the heart of the filmmaker who’s creating them.”
This is all very interesting to hear. Last year saw the departure of not one, but two directors for The Flash, with Seth Grahame-Smith and Rick Famuyiwa leaving for creative differences. It seemed to us that DC Films — after being burned by Zack Snyder — were adamant about taking control away from the filmmakers. Even the recent news surrounding the Flashpoint movie (which seems understandably dependent on other films and characters) sounded as though they are still clinging to control. But there is another way to look at this.
Snyder’s more TV show-like vision is what burned them, and perhaps the past year-plus of news had to do with them doing their best to slowly skew away from that idea that things needed to be intricately connected. It’s definitely a safer and smarter approach for the studio — especially as audiences get more and more fed up with shared universes — but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.
As stated above, I was very intrigued by the more perplexing aspects of Batman v Superman, and the fact that we’re likely to get films that skew closer and closer to Marvel’s style is a bit underwhelming. If they go forward with this approach, I’m not sure there will be much to differentiate the universe from what Marvel is doing. That being said, we can’t discount the importance of making each standalone film a fulfilling experience.
But what do you think? Is this a long time coming, and does it make you feel better about the impending direction for the DCEU? Let us know down below!
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