If you've been a fan of cinematic universes for a while, you are adequately aware of the constant comparisons made between Marvel Studios' and Warner Bros.' popular comic book films. However, I think this comparison has been done to death, and would instead like to make a less obvious (but still weighted) comparison with the original film universe. I think DC and Warner Bros. should take a page from Star Wars' book. And before I really get into my argument, I think it's worth noting that I am a fan of both Marvel films and DC films.
Now I'd like to make something real clear before I get attacked for my future comparisons in this article: Both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were better films than the prequels. In fact, I am a big fan of both movies, and think they deserve a little more recognition than they've received, but I digress.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a beacon of hope in an otherwise dark and quiet section of the film world known as the Star Wars property. The prequels divided so many people (like 90/10, not 50/50). They actually made people lose faith in a creative mastermind, fall out of love with one of the greatest villains in film history, and ultimately dread the next installments that would hit theaters — but J.J. Abrams actually pulled it off. He made an extremely competent film, he was able to add his own artistic touch on a universe defined by the great George Lucas, and more importantly, he made people love Star Wars again. By "love Star Wars again," I mean where it currently stands. This is where my argument is cemented.
Batman v Superman was a divisive film — there can be no doubt about that. Some people loved it, but many people hated it. A portion of the general moviegoing audience is no longer excited about what this universe could hold, and that's a shame. DC heroes are incredible and timeless characters who deserve to be loved.
To cut to the chase, Justice League needs to rekindle the DCEU in the same way Force Awakens did. With Geoff Johns being appointed to a larger role and given a major voice when it comes to creative decision making, I really do believe this is possible.
This quote is the opening line to J.J. Abrams's Star Wars chapter, and it says so much right off the bat. I think there are several things Zack Snyder and co. can do to ensure that the Justice League movie is a success with both critics and fans alike.
1. Keep The Plot Points Coherent
One of the big problems that existed with the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice theatrical cut was the lack of coherent plotting. There were many subplots (looking at you desert Batman and bullet Lois) that really didn't add up to an overall message with the main plot (the whole battle part in the title). And even when they were finally fleshed out in the Ultimate Edition of the film, they really weren't too crucial. One set up a future movie's plot, and the other was used to show Lex's malice and Superman's constant struggle to attempt to both save the day and be loved. The first one I feel is lazy storytelling and awkward world building (although the same can be said of R2D2 waking up randomly with a map), and the second one's message was already shown in both the media and Lex's capital bombing. The Force Awakens was extremely coherent, if not at times too easy to follow, but that's better than being confusing.
2. Keep Chris Terrio And Geoff Johns As The Only Writing Cooks In the Kitchen
Writing a major blockbuster is not easy. In fact it's extremely difficult, and it's only harder when you're working on a script based on someone else's outline. This is exactly what happened when Terrio was brought on board to adjust and add dialogue to a framework made by David Goyer. J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan are creative masterminds, and they needed creative freedom to truly make something great (which they did). Geoff Johns is a comic genius, and Chris Terrio is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter. I think these two, left to THEIR OWN devices, will prove a strong and fruitful combination.
3. Provide A Memorable Villain
Jesse Eisenberg was a very interesting choice for the strong, intimidating, and fiercely competent character that is Alexander Luthor. Jesse played him off-kilter, eerie, and scatter-brained, which is kind of the exact opposite of the core of the character. I didn't hate him in the movie, I just didn't really recognize him as the Lex I've always loved. Kylo Ren, however, was intimidating, complex, and often times scary. I found his outlook on his familial legacy very interesting, and his relationship with Rey I found to be the most compelling aspect of the film. It has been reported that Justice League will introduce the world of the New Gods, and with that, Earth will be attacked by none other than Steppenwolf, Darkseid's military general. This is a villain that you would need to have a deep love for DC comics to even recognize the name, which might actually be a good thing. This is the perfect opportunity to create a compelling and intense antagonist for the League, and it doesn't have to be compared to previous iterations. I had never heard of Kylo Ren before The Force Awakens, but I can't imagine that universe without him since I have.
4. Keep Zack Snyder's Brave Vision To 2.5 Hours
Love him or hate him, its hard to argue that Zack Snyder isn't a visual purist. He knows exactly where he wants to take these characters, and has obviously plotted their journeys throughout dozens of individual films. That being said, the man cannot make a short movie. Every single one of his divisive films has a much improved director's/ultimate/complete cut that exists in some capacity. And he's not the only director who prefers lengthy projects — just look at Martin Scorsese for example (not comparing the two beyond that, want to make that as clear as humanly possible). J.J. Abrams was able to make a complete and successful film in two hours and fifteen minutes, so I don't think its crazy to think Snyder could do it in two and a half. Three hours for a complete experience is way too long. If he just cuts three of the slow-motion scenes out, then the Ultimate Cut is like an hour and a half long.
5. Make A *Less* Dour Film
I don't think the problems with Batman v Superman stem from its lack of "fun." I think the problems are basic storytelling issues mixed with interesting, if not messy, character motivation. This is not going to be fixed by not filming in the rain. However, having a little bit of charm to your Superman can do wonders for a movie. I was actually talking to my buddy the other day about this (he's a massive Spider-Man fan). No matter how bad a Spider-Man movie is, Peter Parker's innate charm can make even the biggest pile of crap bearable. Yes, even Amazing Spider-Man 2. At least I didn't fall asleep during that like I did with Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. I think giving this universe its much-needed semblance of hope and optimism, post Man of Steel, will be embraced. The Force Awakens is far from a perfect film, but its hard to argue that scenes like The Millennium Falcon reveal and Han and Chewie's on-screen arrival didn't give everyone a huge smile, and I think this was achieved for a brief moment with the long awaited introduction of Wonder Woman.
I have been a DC comics fan since I was a kid. I really loved both Man of Steel and the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman. I think that both of these films deserve a little more love, but I can see why they're not universally loved or accepted. I think that following the train of thought listed above could turn out to be a real winning strategy for the DC comics extended universe. Maybe we need to stop comparing this universe to the comic company across the yard and really start aiming for the galaxy far, far away.
Get all the juicy info out of the Justice League Comic-Con trailer below and start thinking of what else you want to see in this upcoming film:
So what do you guys think: Should Justice League aim for the kind of reaction that Force Awakens garnered? Do you think I'm crazy and don't know what I'm talking about? Well let's hash that last one out in the comments down below.