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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

 

James Gunn, You Don’t Get To Choose Your Own Facts 

Screenshot 2017-10-28 15.09.58I understand James Gunn (Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1 & 2) says that Marvel Studios isn’t competing with DC Entertainment and that there’s no bad blood between the two studios.

Which also happens to be a perspective shared by Kevin Feige and Geoff Johns (the heads of Marvel Studios and DC Entertainment, respectively).

That being said, long before there was a Marvel Studios, Marvel Comics was–quite actively in fact–competing with DC Comics (and still are).  And sure, it was for the most part good-natured, but that didn’t make it any less a competition.

Screenshot 2017-10-28 15.15.33.pngAnd that competition benefitted both companies.

But now that that relationship has become inconvenient–I get it.  It gets really old that people Tweet him, arguing back and forth about Batman V Superman–but what’s he’s doing is acting as if this conflict, this schism between fans of these characters wasn’t at various points fed and promoted by both DC and Marvel.

And that doesn’t mean that it needs– or should–be continued today, but  by seemingly pretending not to see how both companies have contributed to the very problem he’s concerned about is blatantly unfair and unbecoming of someone who’s not only shown himself to be a fan of these characters, but an active participant in the community, as Gunn.

This is on top of the very valid view that Zack Snyder–who was for a time the creative force behind the DCEU–seriously mistreated Batman and Superman, which Gunn seems to not at all willing to take into account.

 

Zach Snyder and the Island of Ill-Concieved Ideas 

It seems that finally Zach Snyder has fallen out of favor at Warner Bros, though my question is why it took so long to happen.   Keep in mind while he’s overseen produced no flops while the creative force behind the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) though what he has done was produce three movies–Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad–that were extremely devisive as far as the perceptions of critics and movie goers.

You’ll notice that I didn’t include Wonder Woman, the best received DCEU movie (and on track to being the most profitable) yet?  That’s no accident.  Snyder’s star has been in it’s descendecy for quite awhile, and Wonder Woman was the first movie produced with a new management team in place.

And the worse thing is that I don’t necessarily blame Snyder.  Warner Bros management (at the time) should have taken his ideas for a murderous Batman and an apathetic Superman and thrown them onto the Island of Really Ill-Conceived Ideas where they belonged, as opposed to entertaining them as as they did.

Conspiracy Theory – Justice League Edition

I don’t consider myself to be a cynical person, nor am I prone to conspiratorial thinking–though the ‘Single-bullet theory’ is so nonsensical you’d have to be an idiot to take it seriously–so, while I avoid looking at the world through rose-colored lenses, things aren’t all gloom and doom either.

So, when I heard that Zach Synder’s daughter, Autumn, had committed suicide in May, and because of the effect that had on him and his family, he decided to step down from completing directing DC Films’ upcoming Justice League feature.

And that makes sense because his daughter was only twenty when she died; making her death even more devastating because she never really lived. By way of further illustration, Roger Moore also died recently, though he was 89 years old.  We all have to go sometime and 89 years is a really good run, so it’s not like he was somehow cheated at life.

Joss Whedon–who will be directing a movie based on Batgirl, his first for DC  Films–stepped in to complete the movie.

Now he’s where the conspiracy comes in.  Originally Snyder was the guiding force behind the DCEU (DC Extended Universe), sculpting the entire look and feel of all the movies and–I assume–the primary person dealing with issues of continuity (crucial to movies that are interconnected).

But a strange thing happened: namely movies like Man Of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice revealed that Snyder either barely understood either character–which is ridiculous, but at least understandable–or he understood both characters, only didn’t care enough to respect them and people expectations of them, which is in a way much, much worse.

So he began to be demoted in the sense that other people began to take a more aggressive role in overseeing his movies, such as Geoff Johns and Ben Affleck.

So, Zach Snyder needed a way to leave the DCEU gracefully and while I am not saying that Warner Bros had anything to do with the death of his daughter, other parties–including Znyder himself–may be using it to do what would be next to impossible otherwise.

Justice League International Trailer 1

I honestly don’t much like what I have so far seen from Zach Snyder’s upcoming Justice League and the recently released International Trailer hasn’t much changed my mind.

Snyder’s visual esthetic is on full display, which is to say that most images have a murky, ugly aspect to them, though if this were the movie’s only problem I might be okay with it.

My greatest problem with Justice League–and the entire DCEU (DC Extended Universe) is its relative unfaithfulness to the source material.

And since Zach Snyder was the creative force behind the emerging cinematic universe, he needs to be gone so that Geoff Johns–or whomever is leading DC Entertainment this week–can put their visual, as well as esthetic,  stamp on the growing cinematic universe.

The Straw That Broke The Batman’s Back

What?   You thought Bane deserved all the credit?

In the past few months Warner Bros has been on a charm offensive, as far as the movies of their DC Extended Universe go, but I’m not buying it. 

Another thing I’m not buying are those people who claim that what is preported to be a lighter tone for the upcoming Justice League movie was in the cards all along.  

Reason being, Man Of Steel took itself way too seriously.  Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice upped the ante on dourness, if that were even possible–while working with a story so nonsensical that a bit of levity would have made the whole thing that much more palatable–and now I am supposed to believe that all of a sudden Zach Snyder realized that Superman is based on comic books (that were originally meant for children), and not an object of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism?

The more likelier explanation is that Warner Bros executives saw that the DCEU movies with Zach Synder as architect–while not box office failures–were severely underperforming (that you could put three of the most iconic superheroes in the same movie and can’t reach $900 million at the box office, never mind a billion, is the proverbial canary in the coal mine) so something had to be done. 

And what that seems to be is an demotion of sorts for Snyder, in two ways.  The first is that Ben Affleck was appointed as executive producer on the upcoming Justice League, and apparently is very influential over what happens on screen.  And perhaps more importantly, Geoff Johns and Jon Berg were made co-presidents of DC Films, seemingly with a mandate to resort a sense of hope and optimism to movies sorely lacking such virtues.  

My problem is that I am reaching Transformers levels of frustration with the movies of the DCEU (something Suicide Squad by no means changed) so for me it might be a little too late.

And it’s worth mentioning that I have given up on the Transformers, and refuse to see them in theaters.  

Justice League – Teaser Trailer

Screenshot 2016-07-23 20.23.58

I have to admit that I enjoyed the first trailer for Zach Snyder’s Justice League. but if I say I weren’t concerned I’d be lying.

Reason being, he had two chances to make movies based on Batman and Superman.

The first attempt, Man of Steel is enjoyed by many, but in its way is as divisive as its follow-up, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

And the worse thing is, his task was relatively easy in that all he to do is work with two characters that between them have somewhere in the ballpark of 150 years of history.

Relatively little in in the way of a rethink was necessary, or warranted.

Acknowledge that history, and go from there. Such an approach works really, really well with Marvel Studios, as well as Guillermo Del Toro’s uber-faithful interpretations of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy

My question is why did Zach Snyder, and by extension Warner Bros., though that they could so greviously misinterpret–some say ‘reinterpret,’ though the problem with that reasoning is that you can’t reinterpret something that wasn’t interpreted correctly in the first place–these characters.

Never mind that they were seeking to differentiate themselves from Marvel Studios, because I get the feeling that most people don’t confuse Batman with Spider-Man or Superman with Thor.

 

 

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