I love Batman. The Dark Knight was one of my favorite superhero films of all time. I want to love Superman, and I want to believe that DC has the characters and the talent to put out quality films with gripping stories and incredible action.
Regardless, prepare to get robbed.
DC is in a great place. Marvel’s done all the legwork of putting together a expansive, yet cohesive, cinematic universe. It’s all there — the planning, the timing, the pacing… DC should be taking this roadmap and improving upon it. They even have the perfect hook — Batman. Instead, DC appears to be trying to copy Marvel as closely as it can. Poorly.
Case in point: Zack Snyder. Snyder is not Whedon no matter how much DC wants to put him in that role. I have to imagine the decision to put him in charge was purely based on his ability to direct a cool action sequence, and the fact that he’d directed Watchmen. Yes, it’s a dark superhero ensemble film, and it was okay… But DC seems to have missed the rest of his track record. Snyder films have style, and in the case of both Watchmen and 300, this was their saving grace — and both borrowed heavily from their graphic novel counterparts to fill in the story and character development. But Snyder’s canary in the coal mine is Sucker Punch. Per Rotten Tomatoes (which gave it a generous 23%):
It’s technically impressive and loaded with eye-catching images, but without characters or a plot to support them, all of Sucker Punch’s visual thrills are for naught.
Now replace “Sucker Punch” with “Man of Steel.” Now go ahead and replace it with “Batman v Superman.” Snyder does style, big visuals, action, and… not much else beyond that. This will yield us some cool superhero footage, but will not give us the cohesive cinematic universe we want. What DC needs is someone whose strengths lie in character development, working with assemble casts… someone like Whedon. Hopefully they see that before it’s too late.
Unfortunately, it may be too late very soon. DC is in a hurry to catch up to Marvel — Batman v Superman will feature the two titular characters along with Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, Lex Luthor and countless other minor characters. This film is DC’s Avengers, but unlike The Avengers, most people aren’t going to know or care about these characters — and back to Snyder’s weaknesses, we’re not going to get any character development in this film to make up for the fact that there was no build up to it.
But hey, at least it’ll be fun, right? I wouldn’t be so sure about that, either. DC seems to have doubled down on dark, gritty and serious. The working theory is that DC’s detour into the bright and colorful, Green Lantern, was a major flop, and their conclusion was that it was the fun tone that caused the failure — not the fact that it was just a bad movie. Whatever the reason, expect few jokes and even less fun.
None of this addresses the biggest problem, however. DC doesn’t have to do anything about any of this, and they will still make a ton of money. This sucks, because this means we, the fans, are the ones getting cheated. They’ll lose our loyalty in the long run, but they’ll make bank in the meantime. It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see which one they currently value more.