The DCEU hasn’t gotten off to the best start. In an era of the extremely popular Marvel Cinematic Universe, which unashamedly wears its comic book roots on its sleeves, the DCEU’s kickoff film, Man of Steel, felt like a step back. A muted color palette, an uncharismatic and wooden Superman, and an overall depressing storyline made it seem like Warner Bros. learned all the wrong lessons from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
Despite mixed critical and fan reaction, the studio chose to double-down on the darkness. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was the result and as we all know, it failed to meet expectations at the box office, received harsh reviews from critics and proved extremely divisive among fans and the average filmgoer. And so, Warner Bros. scrambled to make changes to their next entry in the DCEU, David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go according to plan. While not a total disaster, the overall reception wasn’t very great and many saw it as a tremendous disappointment.
The DCEU is now 0 for 3 and as such, many fans are left wondering if there’s any hope for it. Personally, I think there is. One thing about DC is that they don’t give up, even with early stumbles. When DC Comics rebooted their universe with the New 52, it also proved divisive among fans. Sure, there were some strong elements, but on the whole, readers felt that the universe was too dark. Under the guidance of Geoff Johns, the company initiated DC Rebirth, a restructuring of the line to bring back hope and optimism. The results to date have been very positive, as DC is now publishing some of the best comics they’ve put out in years.
Over on the small screen, the DCTVU is a huge hit, with shows like The Flash and Supergirl entertaining fans week after week. But it’s easy to forget that when the DCTVU first launched with Arrow, the world looked like a very different place. Oliver Queen was a violent, grim vigilante who killed with impunity. The show almost felt ashamed of its superhero roots. But season 2 featured a very different tone – Oliver changed his methods and started working with new heroes – and the third season coincided with the debut of The Flash, which took complete delight in the comic book source material.
With their upcoming slate, DC once again has a great opportunity to right the ship. What they did with their comic line and TV shows is also what they can do with their movies, and it all starts with a little resurrection.