DC is home to some of the most iconic characters in comic book history and despite a few hiccups, their cinematic counterparts have impressed generations of fans and turned actors and actresses into icons. As the 21st century showed a revival of the comic book genre, Warner Bros. decided to bring back their beloved superheroes, starting with Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. While that film turned out to be divisive, the back-to-back critical disappointments of Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad left everyone in utter dismay.
Until Wonder Woman turned the tables for the franchise, hardcore fans have ardently defended every single installment by flaunting its box-office numbers and its deep thematic elements. Additionally, producers and stars have continuously used the "for the fans" argument. Thankfully, Henry Cavill has veered away from this stereotypical rhetoric and stepped up to accept the franchise's flaws:
"Even if Marvel didn't exist, we'd struggle. There was a style they [DC] were going for, an attempt to be different and look at things from a slightly different perspective, which hasn't necessarily worked. Yes, it has made money but it has not been a critical success; it hasn't given everyone that sensation which superheroes should give the viewer."
From the get-go, it was evident that DC's movies were going to be dark (in terms of the color grading and tone) and will portray its superheroes against a gritty backdrop. Although that was synonymous to the characters' comic book origins, the sudden jump from Superman performing epic deeds (in Man of Steel) to engaging in a back-alley brawl with Batman was too jarring. As that transition didn't depict either of the heroes in a positive light, Cavill is correct in pointing out the lack of heroism in the DCEU. So, what is the solution?
DCEU Should Follow The Path Paved By 'Wonder Woman'
Man of Steel was made with the intention to set the tone for the franchise it was going to build, while keeping Superman as the driving force. That's why, despite its critical flaws, Zack Snyder managed to focus on Clark Kent's life and his rise to the status of Superman. However, the same can't be said about the DCEU's later installments, as they heavily relied on establishing an inter-connected universe.
As this attempt by Warner Bros. had failed, they decided to take things back to World War I and deliver a solid solo film that will properly flesh out the character of Diana Prince. And going by the reviews and box-office earnings, this move was not only lauded by fans and critics, but by Cavill as well.
"I feel like now the right mistakes have been made and they haven't been pandered [to], and we can start telling the stories in the way they need to be told. It is even better to come back from a mistake or stylistic error into the correct vein because it will make it seem that much stronger. Wonder Woman was the first step in the right direction."
Wonder Woman was a complete makeover for the DCEU as it portrayed Themyscira in brightly-lit frames and utilized Diana's naivety to make her a symbol of heroism. Patty Jenkins further supplemented the movie's positive image by introducing humor through Steve Trevor and Diana's interactions. However, while this change was welcomed by critics, it might not be as well accepted by the most die-hard fans of DC.
The most staunch supporters of Zack Snyder's vision have always hailed the DCEU for being mature and thematically dark, and despised the MCU's over-reliance on jokes and being childish with its characters. However, the latest trailers of Justice League are proof that the tone has been lightened and the color grading has become brighter in nature. While this change might cause some fans to panic that the DCEU is adapting their rival's style, if Cavill is right, it might be the modification that the franchise needs right now.
What are your thoughts on the changes being made to the DCEU? Let me know in the comments.