It’s almost cliche to criticize the grim tone of the DC Extended Universe at this stage, which is just one factor that may have led to today’s news that Warner Bros. is moving away from an MCU style ‘cinematic universe’ after Justice League. But ever since Superman snapped General Zod’s neck like a twig, people have been complaining that these films simply aren’t very cheery, with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice being a particularly morose and self-serious cinematic affair.
So, it’s interesting to learn that comics legend and DCEU executive producer Geoff Johns has been pushing for the films to lighten up even before the release of Man of Steel. In a wide ranging interview with Vulture, they touched on this tonal problem and apparently, Johns repeatedly raised concerns that the movie’s take on Superman didn’t contain enough lightness or humour, but the “current administration didn’t care that much about what he thought.”
Clearly, they felt differently after the critical drubbing that greeted both Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, with Johns and fellow DCEU creative head Jon Berg concluding that if they didn’t lighten up Justice League the film would be a disaster. Apparently, they baulked at the prospect of Zack Snyder doing rewrites to add in additional scenes and, after a productive meeting about Batgirl, turned to Joss Whedon.
It remains to be seen whether this gambit is going to pay off. Switching horses (or directors) in midstream is usually not a great sign for a movie’s quality – especially when you’re going from the strongly visually minded and idiosyncratic Zack Snyder to the relatively amiable cookie-cutter direction of Joss Whedon. As such, my hopes are not high for the pic at the moment, but at least Geoff Johns has tried to turn the ship around.
We’ll find out if he succeeded on November 17, when Justice League opens nationwide.