Ever since The Avengers cleaned up at the box office and proved that a shared cinematic universe works, other studios have been hungry to emulate it. One of the hardest working candidates was Warner Bros., with the DC universe initially appearing like more than a match for whatever Marvel could come up with. But things change…
After an abortive beginning with 2011 flop Green Lantern, they kicked things off for real with 2013’s Man of Steel, which led into Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and the upcoming Justice League. It’s safe to say that these films haven’t all set the cinematic world on fire, with only Wonder Woman becoming an outright hit.
Perhaps encouraged by that movie’s relatively standalone narrative and the failures of their other films (rumors that Justice League is a stinker continue to circle), Warner Bros. have decided to change tack and de-emphasize the ‘shared universe’ concept. We’ve learned this from DCEU head honchos Geoff Johns and Diane Nelson, who said the following in an interview with Vulture:
“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.”
When asked about this meant for the upcoming Aquaman, Johns said:
“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.”
It’s a subtle but significant change of tack, and frankly, one that makes sense considering their policy of allowing directors to fully realize their visions for the characters without studio interference.
To some, this change of tactic will look an awful lot like Warner Bros. admitting defeat in the superhero wars and ceding ground to Marvel/Disney. Personally, though, this new tactic has me breathing a sigh of relief. I don’t want two gigantic superhero franchises trying to do the exact same thing. Let Marvel Studios do their gargantuan all you can eat superhero buffet with the Avengers movies and let DC focus on their more idiosyncratic creator-driven films.
That being said, the studio’s vocal moving away from a shared universe doesn’t exactly bode well for Justice League‘s quality…