What the hell is going on behind the scenes of the DC Extended Universe?
It is a question I have posed before, but it reared its ugly head again last week when it was announced that Rick Famuyiwa had departed The Flash over “creative differences”. This comes less than a year (!) after original director Seth Grahame-Smith left the film citing, you guessed it, “creative differences”. Now Famuyiwa was a left field choice in the first place, but two directors leaving for the same reason in the same year, well that just sounds a bit fishy.
And in that same breath, there is a new rumor going around courtesy of author and screenwriter Brett Easton Ellis that the script for The Batman is terrible and WB does not want to fix it. It’s a questionable source at best and his quote about the film comes off like he is telling one of those old stories he heard from a friend of a friend whose therapist dates this doctor whose dog’s mother’s father works as an assistant to secretary for the head of the studio. But the quote also comes buried within a larger and fascinatingly in-depth essay about the sorry state of cinema in 2016. I question the veracity of Ellis’s claim, but considering the horror story the rest of writer Sean Fennessy’s article outlines, it would not surprise me in the least.
I have already claimed that WB could care less if the DC films they are funding are actually good. They just care about the quick returns they will get on recognizable characters. Hearing these two new stories only helps further seal that judgement. I will not pronounce the DCEU’s time of death like so many others have, but I am starting to wonder whether the ludicrous number of movies they announced years ago to match Marvel’s slate will actually come to fruition, or if we will begin to see delays or outright cancellations. Justice League has already been revised from a two-parter to potentially only one single film and it’s clear that The Flash is inevitably going to be delayed from its March 2018 release date. But how many other heads are going to roll?
Forbes writer Scott Mendelson was on the receiving end of fanboy fury this week when he suggested WB cancel The Flash and use him in the same way Marvel uses The Hulk in team-up/group films or as a side character instead of as the lead. He suggested they do the same thing with any future Green Lanterns too. It’s an interesting idea – especially since our cinematic Flash, Ezra Miller, likely has at least one of four sequels to Fantastic Beasts to prepare for immediately. But it is also quite clear from the trailer for Justice League that he is going to be one of the film’s standouts, so WB will likely want to cash in on that immediately and not follow Mendelson’s advice.
And I say all of this, knowing full well this is on the horizon:
Yes it has obnoxious slow motion sequences straight out of Zack Snyder’s playbook, and the film is still using that overbearing theme music that failed to integrate into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice gracefully. But dammit, those World War I action scenes look awesome. If the film uses the period setting to its advantage even half as well as Captain America: The First Avenger did back in 2011, then we are in for an awesome Wonder Woman movie – nearly two years before fellow female-centric superhero film Captain Marvel hits theatres in March 2019. But Suicide Squad had some genuinely amazing trailers too, so I must admit, I am really apprehensive over what the final product will look like.
So where does this leave us, beyond me being a little too trigger happy with the links this week?
I am honestly not sure. I have already been accused of misogyny and anti-DC sentiments on Twitter after criticizing the reveal of Mera’s costume from Justice League. And as I have already outlined previously, the DCEU’s output up to this point has been less than stellar. So with all of this news, can a lifelong Batman fan really be blamed for not wanting to stick around?
If history and Harvey Dent dictate anything, “The night is longest just before the dawn.” WB screwed the pooch by getting too overly toy-friendly in the 1990s with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, completely sinking that franchise in the process. Eight years later, a hero emerged, gave us Batman Begins and went onto deliver The Dark Knight, the gold standard for the comic book film genre. DC has yet to hit that high again, and while it has come ridiculously close, Marvel has yet to top it either (box office notwithstanding).
That hero was Christopher Nolan. He was the hero we didn’t deserve, but he is the one we desperately need right now. Or as least someone who the studio can trust and just give the reins to. They already made it clear they do not trust Snyder (yet continue allowing him to direct), they doubted David Ayer over Suicide Squad and I am certain they are going to tamper with Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman. Could Affleck be the hero we are looking for? Could he be the one they leave autonomous control to in order to course correct all the wrong that has been happening up to this point? He has been aces since directing Gone Baby Gone after all, and helped win the studio some Oscars for Argo.
Or is the savior James Wan, who delivered the two excellent Conjuring films and helped Furious 7 soar to spectacularly unseen heights? Wan is directing Aquaman (a challenge all in itself), which is currently in pre-production for a July 2018 release date. There were rumors of studio interference on that film as well, but Wan seems to have gotten past it. Could he be the hero we are looking for? Could WB just fuck off long enough for him to deliver a movie fans, critics and general audiences will actually enjoy?
Oh and can someone get Johnny Depp’s people on the phone? I suggested not taking on a new franchise, not jumping headfirst into Fantastic Beasts. Ugh.
Recommendation of the Week: Doctor Strange, the newest and most psychedelic entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I was not a big fan of the atypical origin story or the lack of development and motivation of the majority of the supporting cast – specifically Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen – but the visuals at work throughout the film are nothing short of extraordinary. Director Scott Derrickson and his team throw you headfirst down the rabbit hole and instantly reinvent what is possible within the genre. Find the biggest screen you can find, sit back and hold on for the ride. Oh and Benedict Cumberbatch is awesome in it, even when he’s aping Robert Downey Jr.’s take on Iron Man.