comic book movies

DCEU you got a brand problem, what are you going to do about it?

dceu brand problem

You know you have a problem when a respected critic calls Batman v Superman one of the best movies of 2016, and he instantly gets attacked with snarky comments. If WB really want to launch a shared universe, then they need to do something to stop the DCEU from being everyone’s go-to punching bag.

Whether online or offline, there’s a lot of skepticism towards the DCEU. A couple of anecdotes for you: I’m at work and overhear a conversation from a person watching a Captain America: Civil War review. He talks about how much money Civil War has already made, how good the reviews are. Then he talks about Batman v Superman, “That movie bombed’, “Looked dumb anyways”. First of all, no it didn’t perform as well as it should have, but a bomb? That’s ridiculous. But the perception of failure is plaguing the DCEU.

You have to remember that Batman v Superman has been in the public conscious for 3 years now. It was never going to be a movie that would just pop up and disappear without anyone going in with a certain level of expectation with how it should have performed. So it’s easy for people to quickly write-off the movie as a failure.

Furthermore, a few days ago I had a friend telling me that her opinion about Batman v Superman had changed because of what people were saying to her. She loved the movie when she first watched it, but has had so many people basically talk shit, and point out the flaws about it enough to make her reconsider her standpoint. Yes, I know it’s silly to allow other people influence your opinion, but it happens to people a lot.

dceu brand problem

It’s essentially become the cool thing to mock Batman v Superman. To roll your eyes at the idea of WB being capable of making a successful shared universe, to make fun of Zack Snyder etc. You can’t say you’re a fan of the DCEU and where they’re going without a million different people telling you why you’re wrong.

Everything that comes out about the DCEU is looked at with heavy skepticism. A director leaves, and all is doomed! Then the media floods the headlines with factless reports that another director is leaving. It doesn’t help that we’re also hearing about Snyder and WB butting heads over Justice League when the movie is currently in production and is supposed to come out next year.

So DCEU, what are you going to do when no one believes in you?

WB need to make the DCEU look more confident for one. They have tried by issuing statements that they viewed Batman v Superman as a box office success. But that statement was quickly shut down by a bunch of venues reporting that they thought otherwise.

Comic-Con will be interesting this year. With Fox and Marvel probably being out, it gives WB the chance to really put the spotlight on the DCEU. They really need to show that they are feeling confident with Justice League. I don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes and whether there is tension there between Snyder and WB, but if they want to keep that release date, then they really need to well, get their shit together, especially before Comic-Con so they have something to showcase.

But it’s not like they can do nothing until July, they need to be taking actions to improve their brand image now. Announcing an experienced director for The Flash soon would be good. When Michelle MacLaren left Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins was announced as her replacement just a few weeks later. Hopefully WB already have a replacement ready and can release a statement soon.

dceu brand problems wonder woman

Setting a definitive date for the Batman title would also be a good idea. Most people found the Batman aspects to be the strongest parts of Batman v Superman, and Affleck is still a fan-favourite director. So having that info out there could help people feel a little more confident in the DCEU.

We can’t also forget that we still have another DCEU movie coming out this year, Suicide Squad. Suicide Squad could essentially be the saving grace for the DCEU, or the final straw in the eyes of the skeptical public.

From the beginning Suicide Squad has been the better received film out of it and Batman v Superman. So if Suicide Squad comes out and has a high critic and fan rating, then it will go a long way in improving the brand perception of the DCEU.

A lot of people still don’t think the DCEU are capable of being fun and enjoyable, that it takes itself too seriously. How many times have I heard people’s concerns over The Flash movie being worse than The Flash TV show because it will probably be dark and gritty.

Right now there is an established tone in the DCEU that most people don’t enjoy, so if Suicide Squad comes out and shows that the DCEU is diverse in tone, then it could help instil confidence in future properties.

dceu brand problems suicide squad

But this could also shift the blame for DCEU’s problems onto Snyder. The next two movies coming from the DCEU are not Snyder-directed, so if they are well-received you know there will be hundreds of articles condemning Snyder to be the main problem of the DCEU. And that won’t be helpful for when the Snyder-directed Justice League movies come out.

And of course if Suicide Squad isn’t well received, well then we have a big problem. It will be hard to come back from two misses (obviously Batman v Superman isn’t considered a “miss” by everyone, me included, but you can’t deny that many people would consider it a miss).

However, Batman v Superman may have its saving grace with the Ultimate Edition. If editing is changed and scenes are added and extended, then it could change the mind of a few who didn’t enjoy the theatrical run. Although most people in the public probably won’t see the Ultimate Edition, changing the mind of even a few hundred people could go a long way in helping the brand image in the long-term.

Essentially the worst thing WB could do right now is stay silent and act as if there isn’t a problem with the DCEU’s brand image. They need to be proactive and communicate a sense of confidence

***

And of course as I wrote this days ago we got some news which addresses what I’ve been talking about. Ben Affleck has been announced as an Executive Producer on Justice League. This is a very smart move. First of all, publicly they are remaining supportive of Snyder despite the media chit-chat. The release discussed how Affleck worked really well with Snyder on Batman v Superman and the role Affleck will play.

He will work with Terrio to fine tune the Justice League script, and be a lot more involved in the post-production process which is what we like to hear. I think it’s fairly obvious that post-production was a struggle during Batman v Superman, with 4-hours of footage that had to be cut down to 2 and a half hours. So having someone else there like Affleck to help smooth things out sounds good to me!

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12 replies »

  1. It’s not a bomb, but the diminishing returns indeed paint a bad picture. So yes, I consider BvS a miss. It turned two iconic characters into a punch-line. The Martha thing will most likely never die down completely. Though if SS isn’t good, Wonder Woman might have a chance to pull the audience back since a lot of people are still stoked about the notion to see her. If both movies fail, though…*sigh*……

    The biggest problem is the Justice League movie, though. Warner is in quite a fix there. As long as Snyder’s name is attached, the audience won’t trust it. But if they remove him, it will be an admission of their failure to put together a working plan for the DCEU.

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    • Yeah I was thinking about the Snyder situation. Keeping him on and getting rid of him both gives them a bad look. I think adding Affleck as a producer will help out a bit with their public perception, and if the Ultimate Cut is received better, then it will help Snyder’s name

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  2. I’m in the minority, but I thought BvS was a good movie. Most of those close to me disagree though; they generally hate the new take on Superman, disliked Lex as too over-the-top, and cringed at anyone getting the best of Superman — even after I’ve made it pretty clear Clark was holding back because he didn’t really want to kill Batman and Doomsday is just Doomsday. Inevitably, they also make their preference for the lighter tone of Marvel movies clear. Personally, though, I think there is room enough for both types of movies. I like the DCEU having a different tone than Marvel. It gives me more viewing options. Who wants to go see the same recycled movie over and over again? Not me anyway, which is why the new Batman appeals to me as well as the potential for WW. Hopefully, it will all work out, but I don’t mind being in the minority in my viewing habits, who wants to follow the crowd anyway.

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    • Hey I’m with you I loved BvS, but yeah the majority prefer something different. I hope that the DCEU overall sticks to the slightly more serious tone, but I understand them wanting to make things lighter here on out, because WB knows that’s what sells better

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  3. I thought BvS was good, sure some of the Justice League set-up became a distraction but the dark and gritty tone was facilitated by the story. With Aflleck taking a larger role I am confident that Justice League can turn out to be an improvement.

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  4. This is so unfair. DC don’t deserve all of this ridiculous negativity. BvS is the comic book movie that truly challenge your expectations on what people know from 2 most iconic superheroes. It didn’t given you exactly what people expecting it to be. Instead it being very ballsy and unsafe by given you the deconstruction narrative arc and the most flawed and the lowest point of this 2 most iconic superheroes. I understand that BvS movie are not exactly the kind of movie that will make you feel comfortable or feel good. But whatever you feel about the movie whether you are being mad or sad, those are the valid responses to the movie because it given you an opportunity to consider those emotions. I think people really need to seriously see the movie with their open mind and heart to truly appreciate the depth and meaning of the movie that BvS given.

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    • I agree, flaws aside the biggest gripe people had with the movie was that they didn’t feel the characters were right. But I liked that they subverted our expectations of how these characters should be and gave them a journey for character development. But a lot of people would prefer to just see “their Batman” and “their Superman” straight away

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  5. Strictly my opinion here, but i don’t believe DC has a brand problem, just a Superman problem. This has been the case for quite a few years now. You wrote a piece recently about how the comic writers don’t know what to do with the character, so they simply kill him off. This has extended to the film division too. This is why there has been so much whining over Zack Snyders films….. his portral of Superman. Henry cavill’s version of the character is simply not the one a lot of folks want to see, not the actor just his portrayal.

    However I do believe the problem is just about over because from here on out the films don’t have to focus on Superman anymore. Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman won’t feature him. Even Snyders justice league film won’t have to dedicate so much screen time to him. Again, this is my opinion and i’m likely over simplyfying things and missing something deeper, I’ll read your reply.

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    • I mean I think Superman is a big part of it, but I feel like people have a problem with the overall vision and tone for the DCEU. There’s plenty complaints that don’t revolve around Superman, like Batman was too dark the story was too depressing etc. It’ll be interesting to see how people respond to SS and WW when they come out

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  6. Batman v Superman didn’t have an artistic plot that was the problem. It was as if there was no purpose for the movie other than to setup & promote the Justice League movie. It was a giant Easter Egg movie. MCU has artistic plots everything is adding up to something bigger and its all connected.

    Phase 1: Origins & Assemble the Avengers
    Phase 2: Reassemble Avengers elaborate on Infinite Stones, setup Civil War
    Phase 3: Disassemble the Avengers, Create the Secret Avengers, Gather New Recruits & Prepare for Thanos

    DCEU right now says:

    Phase 1: Make money….Justice League will make us lots & lots of money.

    No artistic plot, no purpose but to make money. Suicide Squad I am begging that it will have an artistic purpose. The BvS movie has an extreme disconnect but then again we are only 2 movies in.

    My only saving grace for DCEU is that I’m hoping that the main reason the movie & TV universe are separated is because DC wants to eventually do the Infinite Earths movie somewhere down the line.

    Thats why there are two Flash’s cause essentially thats important to the story. Hence why in Season 2 of the Flash they introduce the multi-Earth theory. Possibily since the ending of Season 2 is about to shift the TV universe with Flashpoint a TV/Movie crossover would be something no one has truly ever done with the first Cinematic Multi-Universe movie. Last time that happened it was “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. Meanwhile, DCEU is dated in a time period with an aged Batman, a Superman who doesn’t hide his identity, its darker its grittier to show a big difference to the TV universe (even tho TV Arrow seems like a big Batman rip off I believe theres a reason for that).

    Personally, I feel they shouldn’t do a Flash movie & they should treat Ezra Miller like MCU does the Hulk, Black Widow & Hawkeye. But I don’t think DC thinks like that, leaving Flash out as a movie gives ppl reason to actually want a Flash movie. Right now & even in 2018 I wanna see Flash TV show last in 2018 although one of my theories is the TV show will kill Grant Gustin & eventually give the show to Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) cause right now DC wants to be progressive. MCU does crossovers with its TV shows but theres no major crossover.

    DCEU could put itself in a true driver seat position with an Infinite Earth situation. Doing a multi-Earth movie somewhere in the future gives DC an edge & it’d be the ultimate money maker. The Justice League movie will most likely be Injustice League or Darkseid or both since we’re gonna have Suicide Squad thats my theory.

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    • Although BvS definitely set up a lot for the DCEU, it did have a plot. It was more about exploring driving philosophies, and that focus did lead to a slightly messy plot, but it was still there.
      As for all the crossing over, I just feel like it would be too confusing for the GA. But who knows, anything is possible!

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