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DC movie fans discuss merits of ‘filmmaker-driven superhero flicks’

Should DC movies be standalone, with a singular director's vision behind each one, or do we need a shared universe to tell more epic stories?

Joker 2019
Image via DC Films

One box office pundit’s opinion is making waves among the DC fanbase for claiming the movie studio should simply continue the so-called “filmmaker-driven superhero flicks” that have supposedly reigned in a post-SnyderVerse landscape.

In case you’re not versed in all things DC, director Zack Snyder was once considered the visionary forging the DC’s shared universe that was clearly an attempt by Warner Bros. at replicating the success of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, Snyder’s 2016 film, Batman v Superman, ended up disappointing critics. Snyder was then ousted from directing the follow-up, Justice League, with director Joss Whedon brought on board to do reshoots. Warner Bros. subsequently released the critically and fan-hated film in 2017. Snyder’s re-cut of the movie, 2021’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League, was much more acclaimed by fans and critics alike.

After the low point of the so-called DC Extended Universe, which can be pinpointed precisely atop Henry Cavill’s computer-generated upper-lip, Snyder has since left DC, but a number of subsequent successes with the film studio — such as Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Shazam!, and Joker — seemed to fair better with self-contained stories not so overly encumbered with setting up future sequels.

Each of the aforementioned films seemed to be crafted by a singular director’s vision as well, be it Patty Jenkins’ interpretation of Princess Diana of Themyscira, James Wan’s take on the King of Atlantis, David F. Sandberg’s coming of age tale of an orphan-turned-superhero, or Todd Phillips’ Elseword reimagining of the Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Clown Prince of Crime.

“Director-driven films is what we all championed for. That is exactly what we got in the last 4 years,” argued one Reddit user on the r/DC_Cinematic subreddit while sharing the “unpopular opinion” originally espoused by Scott Mendelson on Twitter.

Many fans were split on Mendelson’s take, however. As one user pointed out, if DC decides to only do standalone projects going forward, “we’ll never be able to see decent adaptations of larger-scale stories,” such as the MCU’s Infinity Gauntlet comic book adaptation with their well-executed Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame films, among other Marvel examples.

With a well-crafted inequality, another user concisely summed things up by claiming that having a tight continuity would be way better than “The Messy Sort of Continuity We sometimes Have Now.”

Another DC fan rejected the entire premise that Snyder’s films could not also be designated as “director-driven” movies.

Hopping over to Twitter, it’s clear in Mendelson’s subsequent explanation that he believes a variety of different types of DC films can exist in the same continuity, as can be illustrated by the tonally distinct movies of Birds of Prey, The Suicide Squad, and Shazam.

And he further asks, why not have a movie in a separately contained universe, like 2019’s Joker, alongside Birds of Prey and Man of Steel?

Using a meme from the world of Marvel, a Twitter user contended that the premise Mendelson is presenting — that DC doesn’t necessarily need a complete reboot — may be right, even if the delivery method of said take leaves something to be desired.

Another DC fan wanted to split the difference, giving the movie franchise at least “a little change” to make it more cohesive.

A Snyder defender again questioned the premise of Batman v Superman not being a filmmaker-driven movie and also questioned the premise that Wonder Woman and Aquaman aren’t part of that continuity.

Another Twitter user’s take is that DC’s string of standalone films is “a good thing they stumbled into, accidentally.”

Either way, another fan noted there should be room for another Henry Cavill solo Superman movie following the decently-received 2013 Snyder effort, Man of Steel, whether you advocate for more of the auteur approach from DC or contend the franchise needs more shared universe-building.

DC’s latest effort, The Batman, which takes place in its own self-contained universe, is in theaters now and hits HBO Max April 18.

Danny Peterson
About the author

Danny Peterson

Danny Peterson covers entertainment news for WGTC and has previously enjoyed writing about housing, homelessness, the coronavirus pandemic, historic 2020 Oregon wildfires, and racial justice protests. Originally from Juneau, Alaska, Danny received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Alaska Southeast and a Master's in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Oregon. He has written for The Portland Observer, worked as a digital enterprise reporter at KOIN 6 News, and is the co-producer of the award-winning documentary 'Escape from Eagle Creek.'