Why the DC Shared Universe wasn’t as successful as the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Back in 2008 when Tony Stark announced himself as the Iron Man to the world, it created a lot of buzz and excitement about what will happen next and people ‘wanted’ to see the fate of Tony Stark. This effectively kick-started the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A simple scene, but quite effective. Marvel used that buzz to full extent, leaving references and post-credit scenes giving the audience a cohesive experience of the cinematic universe. This requires planning, a lot of it, which, unfortunately, the DCEU lacked.
It wasn’t all easy for the MCU too, after Iron Man, the MCU struggled for quite a bit with mediocre commercial successes until ‘The Avengers’ came and sealed the fate of the franchise. The Avengers was successful because the audience knew about the heroes, their back story, what we might call the ‘origin story’. The DCEU lacked that and some more ‘Man of Steel’ was supposed to kick-start the Dceu, but if you are planning for a shared universe, a movie like MoS is not a good choice. It is not a bad film by any means, it’s realistic to take on Superman was new and experimental, and I liked it personally, but that’s not what the people wanted. There was the Zod scene which left many arguing about whether it’s the right thing to do or not and if it fits the character of Superman. This should not happen.
Not for a movie, that’s supposed to start a shared universe.
Then comes the rush train. It started with Batman v Superman and hopefully ended with Justice league. The idea of Batman, a human, whose life is filled with bad experiences, taking on an alien might sound good on paper, but it failed to translate on screen. Yes, this movie is well shot, but I don’t see the point of some scenes. Why is Batman, an experienced one at that, who is supposed to be the greatest detective in the world, couldn’t discover who was pushing his buttons and why? I mean Lois lane knows that and Batman doesn’t?
Also, what’s with Batman always wanting to kill the alien? He never wanted to in the comics, that’s just uncharacteristic of Batman. Just because one of his Robins was killed doesn’t mean he was pushed to the brink of the edge making him lose control like that. The Batman I know doesn’t even kill The Joker, even after he killed Robin. I still don’t understand fully, why Batman wants to kill Superman. And to top all that they killed Superman only to show the dust raise indicating a strong possibility that he will return. Why the hell did they kill him in the first place? All this made the audience divide, again, even more, this time. It made enough commercially, but it was a missed chance because, for all the hype surrounding it, it should’ve easily made a billion.
Then came the trash called Suicide squad which is a good example of bad film making. The less we talk about that movie, the better. So what happens when the first 2 films of the franchise are highly divisive and the 3rd film is just bad? The universe simply doesn’t take off. We have to consider the fact that at the time all of this was happening, the MCU was in full swing. Delivering hit after hit and obviously, there is going to be a comparison between both the shared universes. That’s when the pressure started hitting WB. They didn’t know what to do so they did the only thing they can, chopping and changing. Wonder woman was lucky to be released before the studio went into full paranoia mode. It was on a lighter tone and is disconnected from the present DCEU timeline as the movie happens in the past. This made the movie free from any comparisons and the movie used this successfully. It was a critical and commercial success only to be followed by the biggest screw up a movie studio ever made in recent times. The Justice League.
This is a movie filled with characters that the audience didn’t know much or didn’t care much about. A Superman who is like a bad alternate version of the one we know, with bad CGI and a horrible mouth. A Batman without a plan, who doesn’t have a clue of what’s going on around him and who makes jokes? A wonder woman who is the only character the audience like at this point. Three new dudes, one who can run fast, one who can talk to fish and a Cyborg. How the hell did they intend the audience to relate to not one, not two, but three new characters without proper backstories? Oh and a CGI villain who, well just punches things. As expected it was a critical and commercial failure.
What made me sad, were the things that were happening outside of the movie. Like WB meddling with directors vision and making huge changes. Then there was news that Snyder intended to end the arc with 5 movies and it wasn’t supposed to be a long term plan like MCU. The studio knew that, obviously, but why the hell did they have to rush things in that 5 movie arc. They could’ve simply communicated to the audience that it was supposed to be just a 5 movie arc and nothing more than that. It surely would’ve reduced the backlash and the audience would know what to expect. Instead, they make a big fuss out of it and ruined everything.
The 5 movie arc is doomed to fail. The characters that Snyder intended to show have huge potential which cannot be fully covered in a 5 movie arc. They could’ve at least cast a younger Batman in the beginning just so that, even if the plans change, the actors wouldn’t. It’s just Chaos and nothing else. Then Aquaman released and grossed a billion, indicating the potential that the DCEU still has, even after all the screw ups. All they had to do was allow the characters to grow naturally rather than rushing them and treating them like a cash grab. Shazam, even though it wasn’t a big commercial success, gave some hope as to the direction DC is taking and how it wants to approach things. Even though it’s almost impossible for the DCEU to achieve what the MCU did, they still can salvage the universe by a focus on the individual rather than the collective.