Oh Warner Brothers, what have you done?
Since creating their shared DC Extended Universe with 2013’s Man of Steel, The WB has hit plenty of bumps in the road as they look to exploit the current superhero boom that’s been present for the past decade.
Clearly there was a huge existing fanbase for the DCEU due to the massive amount of fans the DC comic book realm has, and so anticipation was high that we could all finally get the vast and deep DC cinematic realm that we’d all hoped so many years for. Sure, we’ve had good DC-driven movies before, but never movies that existed in a larger world that we knew for sure housed other notable comic book characters.
Following the phenomenal success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, comic book movies now have a new place in the public conscience for there was now the concept of an extensive shared universe complete with a large roster of heroes and villains who could and would appear in films other than their own standard solo shenanigans.
So, looking to seize the moment, Warner Bros put in place their DCEU to complete with the MCU. The only problem, though, is that it has been far from smooth sailing for the DCEU regardless of what some fans or Warners themselves would have you believe.
Here, it’s time to look at 15 big problems and uphill battles that the DCEU is currently facing.
15. Lois Knowing Superman’s Secret Identity
One of the most intriguing elements of the classic Superman movies of yesteryear is how Lois Lane never initially knew that Superman was merely a pair of glasses away from being Clark Kent. In fact, that was playfully and brilliantly handled during Richard Donner’s Superman II as Margot Kidder’s Lois was determined to prove that Christopher Reeve’s Clark was really the Man of Steel.
Even in the comic book realm, so often in the early days of the funny books it was played up that Lois didn’t know who the Last Son of Krypton really was.
So, for Amy Adams’ Lois Lane to find out near-enough immediately that Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent was Superman was farcical and showed how Warner Brothers had jumped the gun far, far too early. We all know that CK and Supes are the same person, we all know that Lois will eventually find out this secret, but at least give us some suspense and let this particular strand play out a little longer than having Lois brought up to speed during the infancy of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.
14. The Badly-Judged Lex
To be fair to Warner Brothers, Zack Snyder, and Jesse Eisenberg, they do deserve some credit for the brave decision they made about how they were going to portray the DCEU’s Lex Luthor. But let’s be honest, the Lex who debuted in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was absolutely absurd.
Sure, The WB made the same sort of bold, risky decision with Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight, and that paid off wonderfully as Ledger won plaudits from fans and critics alike as he took home a posthumous Oscar.
With Eisenberg as Lex, though, it just doesn’t work. In fact, it is a mockery of what we’ve come to know and expect from the greatest nemesis of Superman. Even with Warners throwing in the “Lex Luthor Jr” tag, the whole depiction of this infamous criminal mastermind is flat-footed, misguided, and laughable.
13. The Cinematic Flash’s Uphill Battle
While it’s confusing enough to certain casual fans that the small screen DC world isn’t linked to the cinematic DC Extended Universe, even more befuddling is that there are two Flashes – and more importantly, two Barry Allens.
Obviously in the history of the DC comic book world, there’s been a whole host of different people who’ve taken on the mantle of The Flash. Hell, there’s even been numerous versions of those different people, with the use of time-travel and alternative worlds meaning we’ve seen various versions of Barry Allen and his fellow speedsters.
But with the DCEU Flash, some people actually went into Batman v Superman expecting to see Grant Gustin’s Flash when it was announced that the Sultan of Speed would be appearing in the film. Take nothing away from Ezra Miller, he’s come across well in the minimal Flash action he’s seen so far, but the DCEU is always going to face an uphill battle with the Scarlet Speedster when The CW’s take on the character has been so brilliantly handled in its three-season run to date.
12. Superman Is A Killer
Despite the clearly-exaggerated and overemphasized point that the climactic battle of Batman v Superman took place at an isolated, abandoned location that definitely, definitely, definitely did not have any innocent civilians nearby, it was that film’s predecessor that gave poor Henry Cavill’s Last Son of Krypton a huge hit to his credibility and status as a signal of hope and positivity.
In that predecessor – 2013’s Man of Steel – we saw Superman not only fatally snap the neck of General Zod, but the Big Blue Boy Scout also seemed to have no regard whatsoever for the carnage and chaos that he left in his wake, which in turn resulted in thousands of civilians being killed.
Of course, this was turned into a clever plot point for Batman v Superman as a way to have the wrath of the Dark Knight focused on Supes, but the damage had been done in the eyes of many fans; this latest cinematic Superman was depicted as someone who didn’t value life as much as he should, and as someone who struggled to find a heroic solution to even the most desperate of situations.
Even though it was a dire scenario and Superman was seemingly left with no other option but to kill Zod, that’s where the Man of Steel is at his best – finding a way to “win” regardless of how bleak things look.
11. Lex Knows Too Much
Logically, Lex Luthor as a super-genius and one of the brightest brains on the planet should easily be able to decipher that Superman is Clark Kent and that Batman is Bruce Wayne. With that in mind, though, having the DCEU’s Lex know the secret identities of both the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader just feels too much and simply unnecessary.
Part of the fun of the comic book world is that Lex usually isn’t aware of who some of his biggest foes really are when they hang up the cape and tights. In Batman v Superman, it’s clearly established that Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex knows who the movie’s titular heroes really are, although it’s largely not explained how he knows this stuff other than, y’know, he’s one of the most intelligent beings on Earth and has a whole host of money, technology and contacts at his disposal.
Where Clark Kent/Superman is concerned, it could be assumed that Luthor found out that information when he boarded Zod’s ship and assimilated all of the information that was held therein. As for Batman, no, nothing.
Yes, how could one put together such an article without referencing that God-awful plot point of “Martha!” in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
We all remember it well: Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight is on a laser-focused mission to rid the planet of the alien menace that he sees Superman as being. This is a Batman who is willing to do whatever it takes, cross whatever lines are necessary, all to take out a near-mythical being who is capable of destroying the Earth in the blink of an eye.
So, with the World’s Greatest Detective finally getting the showdown that he craves with the Man of Steel, the stage is set for the Caped Crusader to kill off the otherworldly extraterrestrial with the help of a Kryptonite-infused spear.
This mission, this task, this act that the ever-determined and grizzled Batman sees as a must for the benefit of the human race? Yeah, it’s all brought to a crashing halt when the Last Son of Krypton lets slip that he and poor Bats have mothers with the same name.
9. Casting Dwayne Johnson As A Villain
When Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson decided to try his hand at acting, many presumed the multi-time World Champion would be like so many other wrestlers who’d tried to break into the movie business. But where the likes of Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper and Jesse Ventura had moderate success, Johnson blew all of that out of the water and became the biggest box office name in Hollywood.
With people willing to flock to see any and all pictures that Johnson puts out, his addition to the DCEU was one that certainly made sense in terms of bringing eyes to the DC world that Warner Brothers is creating. But casting Johnson as the villainous Black Adam? That seems like a questionable decision.
Given the popularity of the People’s Champion, people flocking to see Dwayne Johnson in a movie want to cheer him on and get behind him. So casting him as the opposite of that, as a huge and brutal villain, is an odd and brave move.
Johnson’s Black Adam – himself a comic book character that is multi-layered and not as black-and-white as some other rogues – was to feature in Shazam, and now it’s been confirmed that the character will additionally be getting his own film. A movie centred around a villain? That could certainly cause some issues for Warners.
8. Superman Isn’t All That Super
To date, the portrayal of Superman seen in the DCEU has been pretty woeful and frankly totally non-super.
In fairness to Henry Cavill, it’s not his fault and he really does seem to be doing the best with what he’s been given to work with. For poor Cavill, though, the Man of Steel that he’s been tasked with playing is one who seems to have forgotten some of the very basic fundamentals that have made Superman one of the greatest heroes and brightest shining lights in comic book history.
So often the DCEU’s Last Son of Krypton has betrayed the established basics of what made his comic book counterpart such a beacon of hope over the decades. Gloomy, at-times selfish, and not averse to causing a huge amount of carnage that wipes out thousands of civilians, getting Superman so, so wrong is one of the very biggest missteps that the DCEU is culpable of. After all, if you can’t get one of the centerpieces of your cinematic world right, then what hope should we have for the rest of the characters yet to be fully introduced?
7. The CW’s DC-Verse
While many were a little trepidatious when a relatively unknown fitness freak named Stephen Amell was announced to headline a live-action series based around DC’s Green Arrow, it didn’t take long for us to be won over by The CW’s Arrow and Amell’s take on the Emerald Archer. Sure, certain elements were a tad different from the comic book world, but it largely worked for the better.
Following the success of Arrow – particularly its phenomenal second season – came the Grant Gustin-starring The Flash, and then the network also did a further spin-off in the form of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Meanwhile, CBS had premiered Supergirl starring the perfectly-cast Melissa Benoist, and that show would also end up being picked up by The CW for its second season.
So now, with four DC-driven shows at its disposal, The CW has established its very own DC world that’s delivered some truly amazing takes on certain characters. Whilst Amell now expertly plays Oliver Queen/Green Arrow as if the character is almost a second skin, Gustin’s take on Barry Allen has become the definitive live-action Scarlet Speedster, Benoist’s playful-but-iron-willed Kara Zor El has sprung a whole new life into the Supergirl character, and Manu Bennett’s Deathstroke was arguably the very best live-action take on a comic book villain ever seen, it’s well-developed takes on characters such as these that makes it so hard for Warner Brothers’ DCEU to hit the heights and intricate storytelling and character development as its small-screen counterpart.
6. The Surprisingly Super Small Screen Boy Scout
When Teen Wolf’s Tyler Hoechlin landed the role of Superman in The CW’s Supergirl, scant few of us were honestly impressed.
Even when the network released some official images of Hoechlin’s Man of Steel, he still didn’t quite look the part… and then he debuted in Supergirl’s Season 2 premiere, and let’s face it, he was absolutely mesmerising as Supes. So much so, some overly-eager fans were quick to herald him as the greatest depiction of the Last Son of Krypton that we’ve ever seen.
While that is a debate for another day, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that Hoechlin’s Superman is everything that Henry Cavill’s Kal-El should strive to be.
In merely a handful of appearances, Hoechlin has given us a Superman that is extremely confident in his own abilities yet still manages to perfectly balance being approachable, awe-inspiring, and humble. The CW’s Big Blue Boy Scout has reminded us just why Superman is so often seen as comic books’ brightest shining light and a symbol of hope, which only further makes you wince at the way that poor Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel has been written.
5. Nobody Cares About Cyborg
Seriously, is there anyone out there who has Cyborg as their favourite hero or comic book character? The likes of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Aquaman all have their varying degrees of fanatic fans, and characters such as Green Arrow, Nightwing, Robin, Black Canary and even Booster Gold have legions of fans. But Cyborg? Unfortunately for Vic Stone, you can likely count the number of Cyborg fans on one hand.
Created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in 1980, it didn’t take long for Cyborg to become a member of the Teen Titans line-up. As a Titan, he was okay, he was fine, he was there, he was what he was. In later years, however, it was decided by DC to have Cyborg get an upgrade from Teen Titan to fully-fledged Justice League member.
In fact, DC’s 2011 decision to reboot their world with the so-so-at-best New 52 rejig saw Cyborg established as a founding member of the Justice League. But still, nobody gave a sh*t about Victor Stone.
Played by Ray Fisher in the DCEU, the decision by Warners to give Cyborg his own 2020 solo movie is certainly a risky one, and it’s sure to be the least popular of all of the pre-planned films that lie ahead.
4. Will The Flash Even Happen?
One of the few characters who seem capable of lifting the mood and spirit of the DCEU is the Scarlet Speedster, the Sultan of Speed, The Flash.
Played by Ezra Miller, this iconic figure debuted in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and will be next seen in Zack Snyder’s Justice League this coming November. But it’s the Scarlet Speedster’s solo movie where the concern lies.
Originally expected for a February 2018 release, that movie seems to be having some huge difficulties in getting off the ground. First and foremost, director Seth Grahame-Smith departed the project early last year over the ever-familiar “creative differences” issue. Dope’s Rick Famuyiwa was the man to replace Grahame-Smith, but then he similarly followed suit and left over creative issues at the end of 2016.
So right now, The Flash has no release date, no director, the film’s screenplay has been ordered to undergo a complete rewrite, and now some serious questions have to be asked about the future of the picture and if and when it will finally make it to the silver screen.
3. The Concerns Of Ben Affleck
We call agree, one of the few great things about the DCEU to date has been Ben Affleck’s turn as Batman.
Wowing the majority of audiences with his performance as the World’s Greatest Detective in Batman v Superman, the hope is high that the upcoming solo Bat-picture – tentatively titled The Batman – will be something special. The worrying part, though, is that Affleck himself has said a few things that will have Warner Brothers a tad worried, and may have a few DC fans losing some of their optimism.
Considering that Affleck had been long-attached to direct, star in, and co-write The Batman, the turn of 2017 saw him say how the film wasn’t actually set in stone and that he wouldn’t do the picture unless it was something really great. In the aftermath of that, Affleck has since decided against directing the film, which again throws up some concerns.
2. The Grim Tone
It’s likely a perfect indicator of Warner Brothers’ DCEU that the most lively, energetic and happy-feeling movie to date has been the villain-centric Suicide Squad.
When it comes to the DCEU’s heroes, what we’ve seen so far has been glum, bleak, miserable, drab, dreary, etc, etc, etc. Man of Steel introduced us to a Superman who was clearly not the beacon of hope and the shining light of positivity that comic book fans were used to. Sure, this was a Big Blue Boy Scout who was in the infancy of his hero career, but the film got the DCEU off to a start that felt poorly judged, misguided, and tonally the polar opposite of what it should’ve been. It’s one thing to have a dark Batman movie, but starting your new cinematic realm by darkening up (down?) Superman? Ridiculous.
Of course, Batman v Superman would follow suit and feature its two titular heroes shrouded in bleakness. Suicide Squad clearly upped the energetic ante, but the DCEU is already at a vital crossroads in terms of its tone.
The use of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in BvS was encouraging, and her upcoming solo movie could be a major step in the right direction if handled correctly. And then there’s the key component of Ezra Miller’s Flash – a comic book character who so often brings a lightness and frenetic positivity to the DC world.
1. Playing Catch-Up With Marvel
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has undoubtedly been a huge success for all involved; from lining the pockets of Marvel Studios and Disney, to firmly putting lesser comic book characters into the public conscious, to helping to establish directing talents such as Anthony and Joe Russo, to relaunching the career of Robert Downey Jr.
But one other thing that the MCU has done well is that it took its time.
2008 saw Jon Favreau’s Iron Man put a B-list hero – yes, Tony Stark was a B-level hero, at best, at that point in time – on the big screen, and that film was followed up a month later by The Incredible Hulk. Iron Man 2 would follow in 2010, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger arrived in 2011, and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes came together in 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers. And with that, a roster of huge heroes had been delicately assembled over 4 years.
By rushing ahead of itself, the DCEU already feels like a cheap game of catch-up, with Warners portrayed as simply just wanting to move things along regardless of quality all in order to cash-in on the current superhero boom.