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The DC Extended Universe is one that has gotten a lot of controversy recently for a number of reasons, one being their terrible management, their cluelessness, reactionary decisions, and sub-par quality stemming from their rushed and sloppy production. In this essay, I’m going to give background as to why DC is like this, what this has done in their movies, what it looks like is going to happen moving forward, and how I would have had them rather go about everything instead. I wrote a post about Marvel vs DC, which you can read for more insight regarding the studios and superhero films.
In 2008, Marvel began the MCU with Iron Man, and launched their beloved franchise. To try to copy them, DC made Green Lantern, which failed miserably. They released Man of Steel two years later, which officially began their DCEU, but eyebrows were raised. DC announced that they weren’t going to plan a sequel until they heard what audiences and critics thought of the movie, and that right there is the reactionary mentality that has gotten them into so much trouble. Example A: Batman v Superman was “too dark,” but Batman as a character as portrayed by Affleck was a great part of the movie. Suicide Squad was immediately back in reshoots, with the company who made the trailer stepping in to edit the film, to make it more “fun” and “less dark.” Suicide Squad was also panned, but with Harley Quinn and Deadshot being parts that people like. Now, DC has announced a solo-Batman film, a Deadshot film, a Harley Quinn team-film, and Justice League 2 pushed back to make room. DC has no idea what they’re doing, and their franchise is jumbled and screwed.
All of these problems stem from one thing: they’re too hurried. Marvel created the MCU in 2008, and released their 6th film, The Avengers in 2012. They had already released 7 films by the time DC released Man of Steel, and they’d released 12 by the time DC released Batman v Superman in 2016. With BvS, DC crammed in Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, with teases for Cyborg, The Flash, and Aquaman, and threw in a bunch of comic-book storylines that could have been better on their own. What DC tried to do with Suicide Squad was emulate Marvel in Guardians of the Galaxy, and Batman v Superman was trying to be Civil War, but both of them failed because they weren’t done right. Marvel earned themselves Guardians because it was their 10th film, but Suicide Squad was DC’s 3rd. The audience doesn’t know the DCEU world well enough for the studio to warrant a spin-off with strange characters: what we need are good movies involving the best characters. They haven’t given us a good movie with Batman in it, and they ruined Superman, and now we’re supposed to look forward to a Harley Quinn movie? No, fuck you, DC.
Below is how the DC should have happened, based off of my own expectations and wishes, but know that I have not read any of the source material, and I have only seen some of the animated movies. I have written out a list of two films per year starting in 2013, which they would have been able to do had they had any faith at all in their films, and they wouldn’t have had time to add so much crap to BvS. I made 3 phases leading up to 2023, 6 for the first phase, 6 for the second, and 7 for the third:
2013: Man of Steel. This film can be left exactly as it is, with no changes at all. In my mind, this is a great movie, and a great starting point for the DCEU with Christopher Nolan helping write it, and Zack Snyder not going overboard with the crazy action-feuled movie. Superman is introduced, and he is the only hero that we know of in the DCEU so far. Destruction at the end stays the same, as well, and is important.
2014: Batman: Year One / Mask of the Phantasm. I like that we have an older Batman in the DCEU, but we need to know where he started. In mixing Year One and Phantasm together, we get a lot of story on Batman about when he started being the Caped Crusader, as well as a lot of story on him as Bruce Wayne too. This story is juxtaposed with Batman in the present, older and grittier than he was in the past, which is why he is like this. The present scenes show the descrution of Gotham and Metropolis due to Superman, and this builds to the end, and teases the next film.
2014: Batman v Superman: Duel of Gods. The title sucks, but whatever. In this film, there is no “Dawn of Justice” yet, we’re still focusing on the characters and how they grow together. If there’s going to be a BvS movie, it should be here, but only BvS and nobody else. No Wonder Woman, and no Doomsday, yet. This film is strictly a look between these two characters, and they stop fighting for some reason, but it’s not a Martha reason. Maybe Wonder Woman gets them to fight by coming in between them and ending in a stalemate…
2015: Wonder Woman. Another prequel, now with the character we were just introduced to. This one takes place in WWI, and we can pretty much just assume it’s going to be exactly like the movie we’re going to get. That looks pretty faithful, and I don’t think that it’s going to mess anything up.
2015: Dawn of Justice. This is the film that sort of introduces us to Flash, Green Lantern, and Cyborg, as characters but not as heroes. That’s right: three origin stories in one movie. We already know Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman as they’ve each had their own films, but now we get three more. These characters can be treated like Black Panther, Spider-Man and Hawkeye, with no stand-alone origin movie, but we know who they are. These three have to fight together at the end with a common enemy.
2016: Justice League War. In this film, Earth is attacked and all 6 members of the Justice League have to band together to protect the world, as well as each other. They take the fight away from the cities, out to sea, with superman and green lantern flying around and killing people while the others fight on the ground. They win, of course.
2016: Aquaman. In the events of War, Aquaman’s city of Atlantis is partially destroyed after the fight above the sea, and Aquaman sets out to kill the Justice League. The begin as enemies, and he must fight against them before realizing that they’re good allies to have and must join forces some day. Obviously, not like I just wrote, but not like Martha either.
2017: Superman and Wonder Woman. This is a film involving just two heroes, who feel out of touch with the world, and bond because of it. There is no love story, just a story of two immortal gods and how they view the world, and whether or not they need it. A great character study which deepens the two of them. They are both in love with mortals, which keeps their heart on Earth, but allows them to respect their origin at the same time. Conflict, as well.
2017: Under the Red Hood. This is the film that explains why Batman is so gritty now, moreso than his first film did. After he thinks he lost Robin, his past comes back to haunt him as the Red Hood, with Joker in the film as well, but getting locked up at the end.
2018: Flash: The Flashpoint Paradox. This is Flash’s first standalone movie, even though it involves a lot of the Justice League members, we really get to know Flash as a character, and as a hero much better, especially in how he’s able to fight alongside the justice league as a kid, and what that does to him by giving him more responsibility than he think he can handle.
2018: Green Lantern. Green Lantern’s standalone movie, which is about how friends turn against each other and give into hate and power and greed, which is Sinestro. This is an epic space opera set in another galaxy, until at the end, Green Lantern barely makes it out alive and Sinestro heads towards Earth…
2019: The Justice League vs The Sinestro Corps. Sinestro arrives on Earth and destroys Hong Kong, his wrath eating up parts of the world, with Superman arriving first to stop the destruction. Sinestro’s team fights superman while the other justice league members band together to fight. Green Lantern arrvies and explains everything, and then fights alongside them, first weak, and then strong after awhile, with the underlining theme being that a team is better than doing it alone.
2020: Batman Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth and The Killing Joke, with Knightfall thrown in too. When Batman gets a report that Joker has escaped, he heads to Arkham to pick up leads, but Joker springs a trap and Batman is stuck in Arkham Asylum. Here is the movie that introduces us to the Suicide Squad, individually as Batman tries to escape, and they battle with their minds as well as fists. In the middle, Bane destroys batman, and leaves him for dead. He’s not, though, and comes back to fight later, killing Bane and ending like The Killing Joke.
2020: Suicide Squad. Just like the movie, but less bad, giving these characters depth before they all die in the end a la the most recent space film that you’ve seen but I won’t mention for spoilers. These characters can’t be “bad guys” after this movie, so they’ll either be good, or not live at all. I say die, except for a key few.
2021: Flash and Cyborg. Two heroes have to team up to fight after Batman isn’t there to save the day, and Superman is in space with Green Lantern working out a treaty between Earth and the Galactic Whatever. Just a cool buddy-action film about two young heroes who have to balance live and superhero live.
2021: Aquaman 2. Just another movie for Aquaman so that he can have more than one film, even though he’s just Aquaman. Literally, anything can happen here, it doesn’t really matter.
2022: Man of Steel Movie 3. Superman’s third movie, this time without wonder woman. This involves Lex and is a battle sort of like batman v joker’s movie. This leads up to the next film because at the end of this, Lex Luthor makes something that is sure to defeat the League:
2022: Justice League Doom, All-Star Superman. This movie will be a lot like the animated movie, and with Superman dying like he did in BvS but now, it will make sense and be sad. Superman dies, and this is the end of Phase 3.
Well, that’s my brief sketch of what the DCEU COULD be like, but isn’t. This is more drawn out, with more movies focusing on characters instead of their origins being rushed. This isn’t perfect, and I don’t have a lot of knowledge of the comics at all, so there are probably a million better ways to do this, but what do you think of this method? How would you re-do the DCEU? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading, share if you liked this, and I’ll see you soon!