How the hell is the DCEU in crisis after only three films?
Some seem to think that Zack Snyder is to blame, he has after all directed Man Of Steel and Batman Vs Superman and is the Executive Producer on Suicide Squad. Sadly he is also credited as ‘Story By’ on the upcoming Wonder Woman, a film that apparently is in crisis according to one ‘supposed’ former Warner Bros. employee. Along with numerous sites reporting upon the apparent behind the scenes issues at Warner Bros.here’s one and here’s another. There are also a number of reports that Suicide Squad had various competing edits that left fans with, personally the best DCEU so far, a mess of a film.
So what the hell is going on, DC/Warner Bros. are working with some of the most recognisable characters in comic books but somehow don’t seem to be able to craft a film that isn’t full of plot holes, questionable dialogue or crappy editing.
Wonder Woman has a lot riding on it, yes we’ve had the surprising release of the Justice League trailer which presented us with some surprisingly light and funny dialogue. But Wonder Woman is the first superhero feature film to have a woman in the lead since Elektra in 2005 and we all know how well that one was received.
Sooner or later a comic book film is going to tank really big at the Box Office, like Fantastic Four big and it’s going to kill the current goodwill that comic book movies have with the wider cinema going audience. I’ve written previously about the tipping point regarding comic book related properties, here, and with DC’s recent announcement that the possible Booster Gold film wont be part of the DCEU it seems pretty clear that should Wonder Woman and Justice League not fair so well at the box office Warner Bros./DC’s slate of announced titles could get a lot smaller unlike Marvel’s which seems to add a new title every couple of months.
Boy can Zack Snyder construct a scene, visually this film is an absolute treat to look at. Much like Sucker Punch or Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole but like those films style over substance does not a great film make.
I’ve seen the film twice now, my first reaction was that the film is a mess, a glorious mess, but still a mess none the less. Second time around I enjoyed the film far more, watching it in 2D as opposed to 3D doesn’t influence my decision. If anything the 3D added nothing to the experience nor the film, though this probably wasn’t helped by Snyder and his editor David Brenner’s desire to induce epileptic fits in their audience during the action sequences.
So what was it I enjoyed more the second time around?
If I’m being honest, nothing.
Second time around I was able to sit back and be swept along by the film. It wasn’t that the film was or is difficult to follow first time around it was more that there was so much to follow that you couldn’t enjoy the experience.
The biggest issue and this could be levelled at most of Snyders work is that it’s a collection of scenes and moments in search of a narrative to hold it all together. It’s hardly surprising that his two best films 300 (2007) and Watchmen (2009) are based upon pre-existing material so it would have been near impossible for the man to screw them up.
Personally I think Snyder has taken more flack than maybe he deserves, no one seems to be questioning David Goyer or Chris Terrio’s screenplay. And that is probably the films biggest weakness because at its heart this should be a story about Lex Luthor manipulating both sides against each other. Drawing upon Supermans lightness and mistrust of Batmans methods whilst simultaneously drawing upon Batmans strategic thinking and forward planning SHOULD Superman become a threat.
Much like in the 2000 Justice League storyline Tower of Babel, which in turn was also the basis for the DCAU feature Justice League: Doom. Batman would never allow for a 1% margin of error, it’s 100% or not at all.
Instead what we get is Clark investigating ‘The Batman’, Bruce deciding that 1% is all he needs for justification to take out Superman and Lex sort of doing this, then that for no really clear reason and no end game really in place.
The whole film is setting up the rest of Warner Bros. and DC’s slate of 9 films over the next 4 years so what we end up with here is a 2 1/2 hour trailer, with trailers in the middle of it! Another thing that further hinders the film is that the majority of the film is covered one way or another in the marketing and promotion of the film. Personally the marketing guys dropped the ball on this, the film’s big reveals should have been nowhere near the promotion of this film.
Snyder’s handling of Superman has faced criticism since Man Of Steel (2013), and it hasn’t improved much in the intervening 3 years. In fact it feels as though there is a whole film missing between the events of Man of … and BvS even if it weren’t another world threatening event it still feels as though there is a huge chunk in the Big Boy Scouts story, his relationship with Lois being one thing, missing from the narrative.
Batman is handled a little better, in fact there is nothing wrong with Ben Afflecks performance and portrayal of The Dark Knight, whilst it’s nice to not have to go through the whole origin story again it’s still massively unclear how long he has been active and if he was semi-retired before the events of Man Of Steel brought him back into action. Batman’s fighting style was probably the best portrayal to date, with Affleck utilising multiple techniques in the various action scenes. In fact I wasn’t too bothered that Batman used a gun, particularly during the flash-forward/dream sequence that hints at possible events in the Justice League films, for me it felt like a necessary step (dependent upon what has happened in the intervening years) especially with Para-Demons being present.
Wonder Woman/Diana Prince however, should have been the films secret weapon. Given that for the first two hours of the films running time when she is featured on screen she is never mentioned by name nor gives herself a name until she decides to leave the Turkish Airlines flight she is on, with wonderful product placement. When the flight attendant calls after her, THAT should have been the moment fanboys and girls the world over knew that the Holy Trinity of the DC universe were about to lay waste to evil doers. Gal Gadot is superb in the role and I’m looking forward to June 2017 when her solo film hits, especially as she has a kick ass theme something which none of the other characters have. Just a shame the bloody track is called Is She With You? on the soundtrack from Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL.
As previously stated Lex Luthor’s motivations seem a little under cooked making for a somewhat weak villain with Jesse Eisenberg giving a very odd turn. Doomsday as well serves only one purpose and continues a worrying trend in comic book movies to have the final act look like a computer game as CGI figures better the crap out of each other and there surroundings. I was also left a little confused about the geography, I always put Gotham and Metropolis as being on opposites coasts or different states rather than being just across the bay from each other. The ‘trailers’ that Diana watches on her laptop of well edited security/surveillance footage of Cyborg, Flash and Aquaman also feels oddly placed and forced.
EDIT: And what the hell was that crap with Jimmy Olsen, if your gonna kill off a major character from Superman’s extended family at least have the nerve to name the character on screen.
As it stands the film is a missed opportunity to build towards an expanded universe, where as Marvel slowly built up to a universe that crossed over and referenced previous events, films and characters Warner Bros. and DC seem to be rushing things. I’m not as excited for DCs upcoming slate as I am for Marvels, I do hope that in the long run DC proves me wrong and that it does its characters justice on the big screen.
EDIT: I also hope that the extended, R rating, cut helps some moments during the film flow a little better particularly the ‘Martha’ moment as well as the action scenes and the completely excised character.