comic book movies

Is DC’s ‘Filmmaker-Driven’ approach even a bad thing?

dc filmmaker driven approach cinematic universe

So over the last couple of days, a number of articles have popped up, starting from The Hollywood Reporter’s feature, about the state of DC’s cinematic universe. More specifically, how their universe looks to be in trouble as it doesn’t have its own Kevin Feige. Marvel Studios and WB/DC clearly have very different approaches to their films, but is one way necessarily better than the other?

So The Hollywood Reporter came out with an article the other day discussing the state of DC’s shared universe. The article states that WB/DC are taking more of a filmmaker-driver approach, unlike Marvel. Whereas Marvel has Kevin Feige leading the way, WB are apparently giving more freedom to their directors. And the question is, is this a cause for concern?

According to people providing ‘insights’ in the article, this is a cause for concern. I do understand that sentiment, after all Marvel Studios have had such success, so why wouldn’t you follow their procedures? Having Kevin Feige lead everything has meant the MCU is a well-developed, cohesive and well-received set of films. Everything makes sense alongside each other, and the films feel like they are all part of the same shared universe.

marvel cinematic universe

However with that approach, does come its limitations. Creative teams working on Marvel movies have expressed their concerns in the past, and directors such as Edgar Wright and Patty Jenkins have left their projects, as their work didn’t mesh with Feige and co ideas. And criticisms have been made that because of the Feige’s significant influence on all Marvel films, their films do sometimes seem overly formulaic, and overly similar to other Marvel films.

But you can’t argue that Feige’s way, isn’t a successful way. And the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a universe where a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy can be made alongside a movie like Winter Soldier. So it’s not like the MCU are that constrained when it comes to creative expressions and diversity.

best comic book movie 2014

So now looking at WB’s approach to their DC cinematic universe, yes it does seem concerning that there isn’t a Kevin Feige. There should be a small group of people who remain constant in the universe, to keep everything flowing nicely. And WB do have that with Snyder and producers such as Roven, but they don’t have the big boss like Feige.

Although the idea of a filmmaker-driven approach sounds pretty appealing to me. DC Comics are doing a similar thing in their comics. Dan Didio has come out to say that after the ‘New 52’ ends, DC will be pushing for a more creator-driven approach. Creators will have more freedom, and story will have much more significance over continuity. So perhaps the film side of DC are doing something similar.

Of course this is a shared universe, so things have to fit together, but giving directors and writers more freedom will help server greater justice to all the characters. For example Batman v Superman will hardly seem like a similar movie to the Miller and Lord driven Flash movie. And that’s okay. Snyder has his vision, Miller and Lord have theirs. David Ayer clearly has his own vision, as we saw from the Joker reveal as well.

batman v superman poster art

The Hollywood Reporter goes on to talk about WB’s lack of direction. They have hired several writers for Wonder Woman, and have let a writer go from Aquaman as their vision was different from WB’s. Then of course you have the departure of Michelle MacLaren from Wonder Woman over creative differences as well.

It’s clear that WB are still very much figuring out how to go about their shared universe, and aren’t as well planned as Marvel Studios right now. But they are in a way earlier phase than Marvel, so yeah WB still have their training wheels on. Although what is obvious, is that Batman v Superman will be laying down the seeds for the other heroes of the universe, and Suicide Squad will be laying down the seeds for the other villains of the universe.

Really we can’t start commenting on the success or failure of their filmmaker driven approach until 2016, but just because WB are giving more freedom to their filmmakers, doesn’t make them a mess. Do they need that leading and informed force like Feige? Probably, but let’s not be so quick to dismiss them just yet, not until we see what Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad lay out for the rest of the universe.

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11 replies »

  1. DC Comics/Warner Bros. have is own plan and I always think that is better be original and creative, and not copy others. Right now a lot of sites, writes articles against DC, just because Marvel have a lot of movies and success. This is the definition of hypocrisy! The writer of that site and of the other sites “pro-Marvel” remembers what happens with Edward Norton, Terence Howard, Mickey Rourke, Jon Favreau, Edgar Wright and others artist? In the beginning, Marvel had not a plan, they had just the idea of make an Avengers movie. There are a lot of discontinuity errors between the movies but no one says nothing because now is a brand of success. From what they wrote, they don’t even know how a company works. I know that is better have different creatives directors and writers and I also know that they have a real plan. They have amazing directors such as Zack Snyder, who made one of the greatest comic book movie in my opinion, Watchmen, and David Ayer who also is a great director. And there is Patty Jenkins the director of Monster, a great movie. Also, Chris Terrio, who won an Oscar for the screenplay of Argo, have wrote “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and is writing the two Justice League movies. The Dawn of the DC Cinematic Universe is coming! 🙂

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    • The difference is that Marvel didn’t announce a complete slate of movies up to the Avengers immediately after Iron Man. They went step by step. Warner Bros (because this is in my eyes more a Warner Bros than a DC project) on the other hand threw the gauntlet, so they have to life with every eyes being on them. I think it would have been a better idea if they hadn’t done it but instead had kept their cards close to their chest for now.

      Warner Bros likes to use actors and directors they have already successfully worked with and which have a pull on their own. Marvel likes to use young talents, preferable ones which have a passion for the subject, partly because they want fresh faces on the screen and partly because it’s simply cheaper and allows them to tie down the actors for a couple of movies. Neither approach is inherently better, both have their advantages and disadvantages. But if Warner Bros want their big universe, they need a central figure to keep an eye on everything. Otherwise they can just as well make a bunch of movies which are independent from each other (which would be okay in my book, too). How hands on this central figure should be is another question, but without one, this won’t work.

      What worries me is not necessarily that they a new director for Wonder Woman, but that this happens after they had barely signed one on. The Norton, Favre and Wright situation, those were all things which developed later in the project and fall pretty much under the usual difficulties you can expect in such a project, though I do think that Marvel should have went with Ruffalo immediately instead of trying with Norton who is kind of notorious concerning demanding script changes and was reluctant from the get go. Favre on the other hand was something they couldn’t predict and Wright – well, if Wright hadn’t been so busy with other projects we most likely would have gotten his version of ant-man. It was simply bad timing,

      But creative difference before the ink on the contract is even dry? Weren’t there any talks about the vision of MacLaren? Never mind that this incident shows that the directors might be not as free as it seems to be. I have the feeling that Warner Bros won’t allow anything which doesn’t fit in their idea of a “realistic” Superhero movie. Marvel on the other hand offers the whole spectrum. They can do gritty just as well as they have shown with The Winter Soldier and Daredevil. But they can also go crazy like they did in GotG.

      In the end we have to wait and see. Marvel currently has an easy time because they delivered first. There are now eleven movies in the universe plus three TV shows and while there were some missteps along the way, the overall quality is really impressive. DC first has to prove themselves. As soon as they have delivered two or three good movies in a row they’ll have the trust of the audience. And if they don’t deliver, they don’t deserve the defence. Nobody forced them to announce their slate. Nobody forced them to do their own universe…they could have stuck to stand-alone movies. But they want the money Marvel currently makes.

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      • If people moan and complain about batman v superman and suicide squad you better believe wb will drop this slate like a bad habit, and they should.

        The flash is on tv so thats not a big loss. Aquaman is a huge massive gamble so they wont lose sleep if thats cancelled. Shazam will probably be their new superman down the road, and you can just forget about cyborg and another $200 mill green lantern movie.

        I guess what im trying to say is yeah sure theyll miss out on the justice league money. However, theyll just turn to some other franchises when it’s all said and done and be finished with the spoiled comicbook fanboy fangirl crowd.

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      • The Comic book fans are such a small part of audience, they don’t really matter that much. Nor does any studio truly care about some nay-sayers. If they did, no movie would ever be made. What counts is if Dawn of Justice meets expectations and the box office and if it gets a positive feedback. And that’s something they can control themselves by making a good movie. If it doesn’t work out…well, I guess some projects will be delayed until the reaction to the projects they are already working on are known.

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      • I think WB are really confident in BvS, and I think they know that BvS will either way be met with mixed opinions. BvS will probably make the money they want, but if SS doesn’t deliver, then they make rethink their approach, but they won’t give up on superhero movies as long as they are still as profitable as they are right now

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      • At the end of the day, WB are a business, and they needed to announce their slate to keep their shareholders happy, that’s the nature of business. They needed to announce a slate to instill confidence, however I do agree in that perhaps just first announcing a 2 year or so slate, instead of announcing a slate through to 2020. As for MacLaren, I don’t think her departure means WB aren’t allowing creative teams that don’t fit their gritty, realistic tone. Miller and Lord most likely won’t be following that tone when they start the story development for The Flash movie, from what we’ve heard about the separation, MacLaren wanted a much more action orientated WW movie, whereas WB wanted a more character focused film. I guess their difference in vision should have been figured out before signing on. But overall we can’t judge until we see BvS and SS, then we can at least have a solid impression on how this universe is taking form

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      • I agree about that, but I understand why people are worried. I think the main thought which is currently going around is “please don’t suck”, which is a sentiment I share. And I don’t think that it is unfair that Marvel currently gets more trust from the fans because they deserve it. They have taken risks and worked for getting this trust. I don’t think that you can expect the fans to give WB the same trust just because they announced a slate which might happen. Let’s be honest here, WB should have made a Wonder Woman movie years ago but chickened out again and again, and the less is said about Catwoman the better. It is not just that it is a bad movie, it is downright offensive towards females, and I am still stunned that nobody during production realized how truly awful its script was. The thing with WB is that for every good Comic book movie they make two really bad ones. That’s their track record. Granted, it is now time for them to do a good one again.

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    • Yeah it’s clear that many sites have jumped onto the DC hate bandwagon. But yeah, diversity is what is needed to ensure the superhero genre doesn’t wearout, and just because WB aren’t following Marvel’s formula, doesn’t make them a failure. Sure WB are still working things out, but you’re right, so were Marvel at their start. Right now people need to relax, at least until BvS comes out, to judge how WB are doing their operations

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  2. I dont want a kevin feige with dc. The movies will become an assembly line of formuliac bores. Then they would start introducing characters that either dont mesh or are wholly unrelateable. Wb has their way, disney and marvel have their’s, let’s just leave it be.

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    • Having a Feige does have its pros and cons. It’s not just about producing a product, it’s about really taking the time to creatively explore these characters, which it looks like WB are doing

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      • I believe the REAL reason M. Macleren left was over budgetary concerns. There’s a rumor that she wanted a big sweeping expensive action film and wb said no way jose.

        Im on wb’s side on that one. Theres no way i would agree to a $200 mill dollar w.w film, they would have to be crazy to do that. The highest the budget should be for w.w should be around 120-140 mill, closer to the lowest.

        Wonder woman has just never been proven to be a bankable character. Obviously you can tell me that’s because they’ve never made a movie about her, and thats somewhat true. However theres several reasons for that, the biggest one is story. No one has been able to agree on what story to go with for w.w.

        Ive even heard that the josh whedon script wasnt all that great. Sure, it probably would’ve been watchable and light hearted because that’s what Josh whedon does. But it would’ve been culturally irrelevant imo, but who really knows, shes getting a film now.

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