Why Is Anyone Shocked Justice League Underperformed?

I was watching a lot of YouTube this weekend, deliberately looking for videos about the shocking–for some–weekend box office returns for Warner Bros/DC Entertainment’s Justice League.

Though what I find most shocking is their their shock because the writing has been on the wall for literally years.

While none of the movies that make up the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) have yet to fail financially, they’ve certainly done so critically (with the exception of Wonder Woman, the first DCEU movie under the supervision of Geoff Johns and Diane Lane, co-heads of DC Entertainment, that was both financially and critically successful), which is an indicator that critics were not too crazy about how DC was interpreting its own characters.

The declining box office was a sign moviegoers felt similarly, a change in sentiment was seemingly slow to respond to.

Snyder’s first movie under the DCEU banner was 2013’s Man of Steel, a nihilistic– some could say cynical–take on Superman which it could be argued underperformed (for a movie featuring literally one of the most iconic characters in comic history).

Suicide Squad (despite being written and directed by David Ayer, stuck faithfully to Snyder’s template of visual ugliness and moral murkiness; which perhaps ironically better fit the property, since we’re talking about a team composed of villains) actually over performed at the box office, despite being savaged by critics.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was literally the nail in the coffin for Synder’s version of the DCEU (and I honestly believe that if his daughter had not committed suicide–which resulted in him moving away from directing Jusrice League–Warner Bros would have had to find some other pretext for replacing him because when a movie featuring two of the most iconic characters in history fails to break a billion at the box office, something is very wrong.

Which brings us to Justice League, the movie that literally was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many viewers.  Despite brining in Joss Whedon to change the feel and tone of the movie, it’s apparently resulted in a clash of styles as opposed to the clarity of one person’s vision, which is problematic for entirely different reasons.

Luckily–for comic book movies–this appears less a problem with them in general than the DCEU in particular which means that as long as other studios continue to push the envelope and develop new and interesting characters there’s little chance of the same happening to them

 

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Bright – Official Trailer

David Ayer’s Bright is the ‘fast-talking cop teams up with Orc’ movie we didn’t know we needed.

Watching the trailer I’m shocked at how long it feels (I haven’t seen the movie, yet it feels like I already have).

I also get the impression that the movie is treating orcs as Ordinary People, except for being…well…orcs.

Max Landis apparently earned a few million to write this, yet I suspect all he did was replace aliens with supernatural beings because this sounds awfully like Alien Nation.

Bright – Teaser Trailer

Davis Ayer’s Bright is a fascinating movie for numerous reasons.  The first being that it was directed by Ayer himself, off the box office success of Suicide Squad.  Next is that it was written by Max Landis, son of John Landis and a in-demand writer.

Though what’s most interesting is that it’s being financed to the tune of $90 million by Netflix, and will be seen no where else (as far as I am aware) but there. And while I know that they get their money not from box office receipts, but subscribers $90 is a lot of moolah and as far as I know, their most expensive production to date.

Suicide Squad – Review

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“David Ayer’s Suicide Squad is a better movie than either Man of Steel or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Which unfortunately isn’t saying all that much.”

By my reckoning the greatest problems with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was that director Zach Snyder forgot–or choose to ignore–two important things:

First, both Batman and Superman were originally made for children.  Now, I can understand the drive to make them more acceptable to adults, but what I don’t get is why he had to alienate younger folk in the process.

Though by doing so he removed two of the things that made them (particularly Superman) interesting to their millions of fans, which is a sense of wonder and possibility.

And while Superman was never my favorite superhero, I also never though of him as a god, something that Snyder has fixated on and feels the need to bludgeon viewers over the head with.

Zach Snyder’s fingerprints are all over Suicide Squad as well, particularly his tendency to equate murkiness and dreariness with darkness of tone.

And I’m also not sure that David Ayer was a good choice for the material (especially considering his filmography, such as End of Watch and Fury, though to be fair he seems to get that this stuff is essentially silly, so nothing’s any more serious than it needs to be) though he seems acquit himself well.

What’s more problematic is that the story–also written by Ayer–is way bigger than it needs to be.  Deadshot, El Diablo, Captain Boomerang, Harley Quinn, Slipknot, the Enchantress and Killer Croc are like the Avengers composed of lesser versions of Hawkeye, with the exception of El Diablo, Headshot and the Enchantress.

Which isn’t to say that they can’t be lethal, but if you’re looking for someone to stop an evil that threatens the world they probably wouldn’t be the first group you’d call.

But there’s a more serious problem that directly links to Zach Snyder’s treatment of Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Namely Batman, when he encounters Deadshot and Harley Quinn, he kills neither one. If you recall in Batman v Superman he was really keen on killing virtually every person that opposed him.

Here? Not so much.

It’s not a corner that half-decent writing couldn’t get themselves out of, though it’s also a place that Snyder shouldn’t have taken the character in the first place.

And I fully understand that the movie would have been quite a bit shorter if Batman killed off Deadshot and Harley Quinn, but it would have also been truer to what Zach Snyder was doing before the soft reboot of the DC Extended Universe, which Suicide Squad is the first movie in.

Warner Bros Just Don’t Get It…Suicide Squad Edition

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Apparently executives at Warner Bros/DC Films don’t understand that people don’t want murky, unheroic super beings–be they heroes or in this instance, villains.

I mention it because reviews have begun to come in for David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, and they’re notverygood.

To be fair, they’re mixed so some that aren’t as bad, such as (on Rotten Tomatoes there are a whole bunch of positive reviews in Spanish–as in reviews directed at a Latino audience– I’m not saying that that means anything in and of itself, but it is curious) this one, though even the review I sited as relatively positive spends an inordinate amount of time dealing with what the reviewer didn’t particularly like.

So I am getting a very Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice vibe from what I have seen from Suicide Squad so far (which I intend to catch this weekend).

So following that model it shouldn’t be a surprise that it makes a big initial splash at the box office over the weekend, earning somewhere in the ballpark of $100-150 million.

Now that sounds pretty awesome if you financed the movie, till it drops pretty dramatically in the following weeks, falling somewhere between 45-60 percent in its second week (and it goes without saying, not doing as well as Fox’s Deadpool).

I can’t speak for anyone at Warner Bros, but what I can say with some degree of certainty is that, if I am right, they cannot afford to continue creating these underwhelming movies based on DC Comics characters.

Because underwhelming is just a few small steps from an inevitable failure.

Triple 9 Official Trailers 1 & 2

Can I say that John Hillcoat’s Triple 9 looks awesome?  Heist/police thriller are a guilty pleasure of mine because when they’re done well, they’re a thing of beauty.

In particular I enjoyed Bruce Malmuth’s Nighthawks (a Sylvester Stallone vehicle about a terrorist on the loose in New York, and the cops in pursuit of said terrorists), Antoine Fuqua’s Training Day (David Ayer’s story is only kept aloft by Fuqua’s direction and Denzel Washington’s acting), Spike Lee’s Inside Man and Frank Oz’s The Score, to name a few.

And I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the reboot (what?) of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, directed by Jean-Francois Richet, which is a really entertaining movie and better in its way than the original.

Will Smith And The Suicide Squad!

David Ayer, director of the upcoming Suicide Squad, has released a photos of the entire cast via Twitter yesterday.

Suicide Squad photoAnd it looks as if it’s following Man of Steel’s lead, by which I mean it’s going to take itself way too seriously.  As a director, Ayer is talented (I haven’t seen a lot of his work, though I enjoyed End Of Watch and–to a lesser degree, Sabotage) but I am not at all crazy about this picture.  Everything looks dirty and somewhat grimy and it feels as if DC Entertainment is saying that even the idea of bright colors and just a hint of joy is anathema.

So it looks like I will continue to wait for the day till DC Entertainment realizes that you can take something seriously, without it being so deadly serious.

Deadshot

A picture was released of Will Smith as Deadshot is a bit more successful, though on top of the release of Jared Leto’s Joker last week I am feeling a bit underwhelmed about this latest entry into the DC Cinematic Universe.

And it’s not that the movie, in and of itself, appears to be a bit dark; it’s that everything they touch seems to turn murky and by extension there’s a pall of sameness that washes over properties that shouldn’t look anything alike.

And I understand that I’m not being paid the big bucks–or even small ones!–to comment on these issues, but it seems the brains trust over at Warner Bros. can’t see the forest for the trees.