Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was controversial before it even hit the big screen. There were times when it really seemed as though DC Film couldn't win - every decision, from the casting of Ben Affleck to the revelation of Doomsday in the trailers, was criticized on social media. When the film was finally released, it was to a perfect storm of poor reviews and mixed fan reactions.Worse still, at least initially the DC Extended Universe seemed doomed to continue along this controversial road; Zack Snyder's continued prominence, given the mixed reception for both Man of Steel and #BatmanVSuperman, guaranteed more of the same.
But DC Film has been learning lessons, and they've shown it in their company structure as much as anything else. Longtime superhero producer Charles Roven has stepped aside, and the New York Post reports other major figures - production chief Greg Silverman and Marketing and Distribution head Susan Kroll - look to be in danger. That said, many of these may simply be part of larger company-wide restructures, and not a direct response to Batman v Superman.
More notable, though, is the rise of Geoff Johns, a fan-favorite writer who has been moved from the comics to the films. Tellingly, Johns's last book - DC Universe: Rebirth - is a criticism of the darker, post-Watchmen comics that sets the comics on a far more up-beat path. As I've discussed in an earlier post, it's pretty clear Johns's criticism is as much aimed towards the nascent DCEU as it is towards the comics, and his solution may be the same.
Meanwhile, the DCEU is broadening out. Fans and critics both responded positively to Ben Affleck's Batman, and as a result DC Film has commissioned a solo #Batman story (believed to be entitled The Batman). Written and directed by Ben Affleck, who's working closely with Johns, we now know that Affleck plans it to be a high-power original story. The broader Batman corner of the universe is also set to flourish with Suicide Squad; DC Film is confident enough of that film to commission sequels and spin-offs, and is clearly expecting #HarleyQuinn to be the breakout character.
If the New York Post's reports are correct, the shake-up isn't over yet. Personally, I'm confident that we'll see Geoff Johns's star shine brightly, with Zack Snyder gradually stepping down after the Justice League films are released. I remain optimistic; in my view, Suicide Squad looks excellent, and the strategic decisions around that are seriously exciting. That said, with the company changing around it, who knows what the final shape of the DCEU will be?