– by Joseph Jammer Medina

I think it goes without saying that the DC Extended Universe hasn’t had the easiest time getting off the ground. As someone who has legitimately enjoyed the three films thus far (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad), even I recognize that there’s a huge disparity between what audiences want out of these films, and what we’re getting. 

But why? That’s the ultimate question, right? Why is DC failing where Marvel hasso amazingly succeeded, against all odds? A lot of people have pointed to the dark tone in the past, but I think those of us following all this closely know that the problem goes a bit deeper than that. There are plenty of dark films that do well for themselves. Heck, look at Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. One wouldn’t necessarily call those the picture of happiness, and those did pretty well both critically and financially.

So what’s the number one problem. The characters. It’s an obvious one, but the video below supports it pretty well. Have a look, and I’ll meet you at the bottom for my own take on this ongoing issue.

In case you were too busy to watch the entire video, the general idea behind it was that the characters were never really given the opportunity to develop. In Man of Steel, Superman is never really pushed as a human being to reveal his true nature as a character, and never actually changes. In fact, the same could be said for most of the characters in the film. They’re static, not dynamic, which is something that’s a big no-no in storytelling for most leads. Even Batman, who has an arc, admittedly has a bit of a silly one — an arc that audiences won’t really get behind, as they already know Superman is a force for good.

Now, I’m someone who thinks Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition is a genuinely great movie. There’s a lot of great stuff in there, and at the end to the day, I think it gives us a pretty interesting perspective on a story. It’s problem,however, is that it’s more focused on the idea and the premise than it is on the characters. Now, perhaps in a standard standalone film, this is okay. But in a cinematic universe where you want to see these characters actually cross over, it’s kind of important that we actually care about these characters, and that they stand on their own merits. DC can’t continue to give us half-baked characters, and then expect us to care as much when they join up.

As the video pointed out, Marvel made sure to give each Avengers a previous character arc, and a journey that we, as audiences members connected with, before they joined up. DC’s approach, plays out more like a really long novel than a series of smaller ones that interconnect. We don’t know where this journey may take our characters, and it’s taking them a long time to get there. It doesn’t give us a cohesive, fulfilling experience that we want at the theaters.

Now that’s not to say these films have no merit. As I mentioned, I enjoy them all for different reasons. The visuals are generally great, and I can’t say that they’re aping Marvel’s formula, as the way they tell stories is a lot more dynamic than what Marvel is doing. However, in a universe that thrives on character, perhaps its best that they take a more character-centric — not idea, plot, or premise-centric — approach for the future, so that when they actually join forces, we’ll give a crap.

Now Marvel has been accused in the past of having a formula, and yes, that’s kind of true. Their movies generally work on the most fundamental levels of storytelling. While that may seem a bit uncreative, it’s a process that works for most audiences. It allows them to care, and enables Marvel to take chances in some other arenas. Perhaps it’s best that DC take a page out of Marvel’s book.

What do you think? Does this video nail why the DCEU isn’t as strong as it should be? Let us know in the comments down below!

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.