Last week news came out that DC was “officially stepping away from its expanded cinematic universe.” While the headline is somewhat misleading, the news is welcome among comic book fans, especially to DC fanboys like Cardo – don’t worry, he knows he is a DC fanboy, it’s cool. Nonetheless, what is the actual news and what does it mean for DC moving forward?
Ok so the actual news is as follows: DC and Warner Bothers have decided to deemphasize the interconnected DC Extended Universe for future films. Based on the success of Wonder Woman which, while having a connection to the DCEU didn’t quite feel like it was made in the shadow Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman or Suicide Squad. Instead, it felt more like a standalone movie that is aware of its connection to the DCEU while not being overly burdened by it. I for one enjoyed Wonder Woman, as recapped on our first episode back on The Lazarus Pit. It was fun, well-written, not overly dark and brooding and found success in having fun with the movie instead of just trying to tell some part of a larger story.
Basically, what DC will be doing is allowing individual directors and screenwriters to tell stories within the DC universe as they see fit. This makes sense with what we have heard with regards to a Joker origin story directed by Martin Scorsese. Unfortunately, there are some films that ostensibly will remain a part of the DCEU as a way to build off of the success of Wonder Woman. Think WW sequels or the upcoming Aquaman and Flash films.
Why Is This A Good Move?
For one, DC finally gets to rid itself of some of the baggage of MoS and BvS. By not having all of its upcoming movies forced into the narrow narrative (Cardo’s words) that Zack Snyder created in the first two films in the DCEU it gives a great level of freedom to future directors and writing teams to simply tell the story they want to tell. The more success these movies have, the greater distance DC gets to put between their upcoming films and the failures of their starting point.
Secondly, the freedom afforded those directors will allow a more natural and unencumbered build of hype to the movies as they come out. By standing alone, these movies will have the opportunity to sink or swim more on the merits of their own story, acting, directing, cinematography instead of being held hostage to the earlier films. What this should allow for is a fair opportunity for the new DC films and filmmakers to build genuine excitement and not fall into the trap of trying to be the savior of the DCEU.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, is that DC gets to take a step back and perhaps remove itself from any negative reception an individual movie may cause. If Scorsese’s Joker film flops, DC can say they let the team tell the story they wanted and can’t be blamed for the failure. Similarly, by not having the interconnection, future films wouldn’t have to suffer as much from the avalanche of negativity.
Finally, it makes sense for one reason. Wonder Woman succeeded because it could have existed with or without the DCEU. For that, DC is smart to say more of our upcoming movies are going to look like Wonder Woman and not MoS of BvS. It almost allows them to use Wonder Woman as a reset point.
So, What’s Next?
There is a downside to all of the above. Justice League has been the subject of such discussion and negativity because of the rumors swirling around it that anything is believable now. People have speculated that the review embargo for Justice League will last until two weeks after its release. Also breathing down Justice League’s neck is Thor: Ragnarok which could very well outperform Justice League both critically and at the box office. Hopefully for DC’s sake Justice League is at least better than MoS and BvS and they can move on to the business of repairing their reputation. We will all be waiting and (hopefully for them) watching.