DC Films has been under fire from the moment Man of Steel hit the big screen.
That criticism continued with Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, and with Ben Affleck's solo Batman film, which hasn't even happened yet. It seems as though the comics giant can't get on track with its most valuable properties. But for the sake of the genre, DC Films must succeed.
It's as if the minds behind DC's projects thus far have not been in sync with the source material. Massive budgets and CG effects aside, the characters themselves should be fairly easy to write, and even easier to present.
Comic book fans are notoriously hard to please, but getting the characters on the screen is half the battle. The other half lies with the story, and that story is timeless.
Good versus evil, right versus wrong, those are the themes that comic books thrive on. Heroes are fallible, villains are misguided, and there are many shades of gray, but in the end, right is right and wrong is wrong.
Comic book characters should be human, with real problems in a real world setting. Their powers can be otherworldly, their abilities can be extraordinary, but their lives must be relatable. Moviegoers must be able to connect to the characters they're watching, and the story must be right or none of it will work.
This where the constant comparisons to Marvel Studios come into play.
Though it's not about beating Marvel, that's typically the direction in which the conversation goes. That's due to Marvel's penchant for almost always doing the right thing when it comes to its properties.
Marvel has managed to find the right creative people with the right vision for the product. It's not about reinventing the characters for the big screen. It's about respecting the fans enough to do justice to the characters. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are iconic heroes that have stood the test of time because the fans have kept them alive.
Those same fans know when the vibe is not right, when the story is not quite where it should be, and when the actors are miscast.
This is where DC Films finds itself, and now the onus is on the studio to try and right the ship. The only question is how? How does a publisher that has historically always focused on the masks, attempt to breath life into the men and women wearing those masks?
Marvel Comics' success is thanks in large part to its reality based characters. Peter Parker works because he's a kid with a world of problems, and those problems only increased when he gained powers. Spider-Man is not an invincible hero with godlike abilities; he's a kid that has no business trying to save anyone because he can't even figure out his own life.
He is the heart and soul of Marvel Comics. He is the basis for what every good character should be. He's human, and fans know him perhaps better than they know themselves.
DC cannot seem to grasp the humanity behind its characters, and that must change if the films are to succeed. Many critics believe that the age of the comic book film will end eventually, and the genre will burn itself out.
But comic book fans don't want that to happen. While Marvel Studios is making the most expensive film of all time with Avengers: Infinity War, DC Films is hoping that Justice League will be a hit. While Marvel could swing and miss at any moment, the majority of fans surely have more confidence in them to rebound and produce another winner.
That same confidence does not exist with DC Films.
Comic book fans do not want to see an end to their movies on the big screen. If DC Films continues to deliver lackluster projects to lukewarm responses, then it could harm the comic book film genre beyond repair. At the very least, it would give critics more reason than ever to predict the imminent demise of the comic book movie.
DC must find a way to save the day, before it's too late.