When the Arrowverse first graced our screens in 2012, it launched a whole new brand of superhero into our collective consciousness. Thanks to Arrow and the introduction of Barry Allen in Season 2, following with the launch of his spinoff show The Flash, The CW was able to build a universe that was grand in scale and endlessly immersive. But when it comes to the DCEU, which kicked off with 2013's Man of Steel, this cinematic universe has been endlessly criticized for being too dark. So what can the DCEU learn from #Arrowverse?
Come Into The Light
One of the main criticisms leveled at both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad was that they were ceaselessly dark. While WB suggested in the trailers for #SuicideSquad that the film would be humorous, the resulting cinematic outing was far from a giggle-fest. However, there are three #DC shows in particular that embrace the lighter tone — The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. The Flash in particular has been lauded by fans and critics alike, who delight in its dramatics and humane approach to the superhero genre.
Meanwhile, the #DCEU struggles with its repressive tenebrosity that can often prove too unrelenting for superhero fans to contend with. Which is perhaps why, despite recouping their budgets several times over, both Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad weren't seen as the resounding box office successes Warner Bros. had hoped for.
Man of Steel promised a lighter tone, but director Zack Snyder's gloomy telling of #Superman was criticized for being grim and gritty, and yet Arrow is praised for its dark tone. It's not as if DC is bereft of lighter characters — Martian Manhunter and Mister Terrific to name a few. Indeed, Arrow's darkness is tempered with lighthearted characters who offer respite from the heavier moments.
Tickling That Funny Bone
DC flicks tend to be seriously lacking in humor, which is what Dawn of Justice was most criticized for. Yes, there were other criticisms aimed at both Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, mainly the choppy editing. But while DCEU doesn't have to take the Marvel route, adding a touch of humor would benefit audiences, dishing us some upbeat moments in an otherwise hopeless cinematic world. And judging from the Justice League trailer, Ezra Miller's Flash will offer a cheeky respite.
“There's definitely room for more humor. DC movies are, I think, by their nature still a little bit more Gothic or more mythic rather than some comic book movies are, but [Batman v Superman] was a heavy, dark movie. It was really rooted in Dark Knight Returns, which is a heavy, dark book. This is not that. This is a step in evolution from that about bringing together all these characters, ones who had their origins and it's about multilateralism and it's about hope. It's about working together and the kind of conflicts that you have trying to work together with others. It's a world with all these other superheroes that exist.”
While that's a good sign, the big question remains about whether DC's legacy of humor would be carried over to the coming DCEU movies. With a Lobo film in development and an even more raunchy offering expected for the R-rated Deadpool sequel, perhaps dark humor will be DC's cinematic saving grace..
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Focus On Character Interaction And Relationships
Character interaction and relationships will be crucial to the success of Justice League. After all, it was Superman's death in Batman v Superman that spurs a forlorn Bruce Wayne on his crusade to find metahumans — while clashing with Parademons — to establish the Justice League.
The Man of Steel's death had a resounding impact on his cinematic world, especially on Bruce. And a character as big as Supes should have an impact on those around him. If the rumors are to be believed that Justice League will go full-on The Lord of the Rings, with a runtime of 140 minutes, that's more than enough time for character development, team unity, and fighting Parademons.
Take Time To Introduce The Characters
This is where the DCEU trails behind #Marvel the most. In 2008 Iron Man was the first character introduced in the MCU, the launching pad for the entire cinematic universe. The introduction of Nick Fury in the Iron Man post-credits scene gave us our first hint of the Avengers to come, with the superhero gang finally getting their first proper entry in the MCU some four years later. The lesson here? The DCEU should take time when building a cinematic universe and do it properly over time, with no need to rush.
Similarly, with Arrow introducing Barry Allen in Season 2, audiences had already marinated in the characters before fully diving in with the Arrowverse spinoff #TheFlash.
DCEU has the potential to be where the MCU is right now, and with Kevin Feige-like figure Geoff Johns on board, things are looking exceptional. Right now what Warner Bros. needs is to make a genuine, quality flick instead of just playing catchup with Marvel, or lip service to fans.
Audiences will have a better idea of how the DCEU is performing when Wonder Woman slashes her way into cinemas on June 2, 2017. Tell us in the comments section below what else the DCEU needs to do to truly compete.