Once again DC Films has produced another controversial entry in their extended universe and once again, fans are more than a little upset. But are they upset for the wrong reasons?
It’s understandable that the desire to see the company’s heavy hitters on screen at the same time is massive. It’s been a dream of fanboys and fangirls since moving pictures were born. The Justice League, together, on the big screen, with the whole world watching?
That was more than a dream; it was a fairy tale.
But in a world where Marvel’s mightiest heroes exist in theaters and are recognized worldwide outside of comic books, anything is indeed possible. Fans wanted the same successful transition from Marvel’s Distinguished Competition. They deserved it and much more.
So the disappointment is palpable among the fans and that is indeed to be expected. It’s also expected because even Avengers’ director Joss Whedon couldn’t breathe new life into the dark DC universe.
He tried, that much is obvious. The witty banter and fun camaraderie of Iron Man and company is prevalent throughout Justice League. But good humor and snappy comebacks couldn’t save the film, which is expected to lose around $50 to $100 million, perhaps more.
However fans shouldn’t be disappointed just because DC has failed to deliver again; it’s more than that. This was the fifth offering from DC Films and for the fifth time, fans are indeed upset. But critics are upset as well and that’s perhaps the biggest problem here.
Many assume it’s only a matter of time until the comic book movie genre sees its end.
Anything is possible of course, but considering the deep well of material that’s available for the big two companies, it’s perhaps unlikely. If the end does come, it may not be any time soon.
But every time DC or even Marvel, release a poorly received film, it’s a direct indictment on the genre. For better or worse, many mainstream audiences group all of the heroes together; as if Captain America could show up opposite Wonder Woman at any given moment.
It’s that unfamiliarity with the source material that presents the greatest cause for concern. How long before the casual moviegoer decides he or she is tired of comic book movies? How long before DC Films does a knee jerk reaction and stops all future production on the extended universe?
How long until comic book fans see their dreams once again come crashing down around them?
The drought was a very real thing for DC readers. The span of time between 1978’s Superman and Tim Burton’s Batman was 11 years. While not exactly a lifetime, it certainly felt that way for fans. The same was true for Marvel Comics readers, as 1989’s Blade was the first real taste of big screen success for the House of Ideas.
Marvel fans didn’t have a drought; they had nothing.
Common sense says that Marvel is now too successful to be driven away by anyone. 2008’s Iron Man set the tone for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its still going strong today. Fox has the X-Men franchise, while Sony and Marvel now collaborate on Spider-Man. The TV properties are also doing extremely well, which is a good thing for fans.
But if DC Films cannot get moving in the right direction, then big problems may be ahead. Marvel has nailed its side of it, with films that are funny, action-packed and feature characters that are genuinely relatable. However there are many more stories to be told, especially from the house that Superman and Batman built.
These characters deserve their time on the screen. But they also deserve to be treated with respect. Simply making a Justice League film and hoping for the best is not enough. The creators that handle these properties are trusted to deliver a top notch story, while presenting the characters in an extremely compelling way.
Anything less is a disservice to the heroes and villains that generations of fans have grown up with. Special effects are great and big fight scenes are even better, but if there’s no heart behind the havoc, then the film will fail.
Audiences believe in the characters but they must believe in the actors portraying them as well. Fans know that Chris Hemsworth is the best possible choice for Thor because he fully embraces the role and completely understands the character. They may not feel the same about Ben Affleck as Batman.
DC Films must get a hold of this soon as possible. Fans want it to work. Whether or not it will remains to be seen.