The State of DC

Yesterday I saw a poster released for the upcoming “Birds of Prey” movie and was reminded that the film is a thing, and that DC’s Joker film isn’t the only project they have in the pipeline. On top of Birds of Prey, they have Wonder Woman 1984 and a reboot of sorts to the Suicide Squad franchise, with a Batman reboot somewhere as well. 

They have previously dropped Man of Steel, where they gave us an awesome Superman in Henry Cavill. The fact there was no real structure around his film to build a wider universe on didn’t put off the executives from wanting to have their own Cinematic Universe based on it, and the leaderless DCEU was born. Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League followed to varying degrees of success, before Shazam and Aquaman sort of steadied the ship by being very okay.

Crucially, they botched Batman V Superman, and Suicide Squad was a colourful mess. Fun to look at but no real substance to it, DC had fumbled the ball. This was all happening in a time when Marvel was building towards Infinity war and in the same year as Justice League, released Guardians 2, Spiderman Homecoming and Thor Ragnarok.

If done right in with the state of pop culture today, Justice League should be the biggest film in the world. It should be earning billions. It earned $657 million. That’s on a hefty budget for both production and marketing, meaning they earned very little on their biggest film. for context, all three of the marvel films earned around $200 million more than that, on smaller budgets.

This sent Warner Bros and DC into a panic of green lighting and then cancelling and delaying and re organising and just generally in a tizzy trying to figure out what went wrong. Well I could write forever on what went wrong, and I probably will one day, but I am wondering if they’re finally organised, or if they are still spinning out of control.

They have Joker releasing in a few weeks’ time, and it appears it is going to be a critical darling and a huge success in terms of quality, Box office will probably be decent if not spectacular. I have written about that film enough; I am excited and hopefully is a sign of DC allowing the film makers they hire to take their properties and make something they want with them rather than the designed by committee feel Justice League had.

Following that we have Birds of Prey coming out next February, starring Margot Robbie reprising her role as Harley Quinn. She was one of the better parts of Suicide Squad, and I am glad they kept a talent like her, but I have no idea what this film is. Harley Quinn without the joker took years in the comics, and here we have her already out on her own, with Jared Leto’s Joker nowhere to be seen from what I can tell. I am guessing a trailer isn’t far off, so perhaps by the next time I write I will have some idea what this film’s going to be. The lead is talented, and Ewan McGregor is in it as the antagonist, so the tools are there for a solid movie, I just have no idea what to expect.

Next June is the most hopeful I am for DC, as Wonder Woman 1984 hits theatres. The first film was good. Gal Gadot has been the shining light for DC and it seems like they’re positioning her at the centre of their universe, if there is still a universe. The poster for this film is a piece of art, and if the film can build on the success of the first, we could be on for a great film.

Beyond that, we have a Batman reboot. The reign of Batfleck is over, and to be honest I was disappointed Ben Affleck never got to show what he could do with the character in a solo film. He has immense talent for directing and acting, and I can’t help but feel it was a wasted opportunity not utilising those while they had him there. Robert Pattinson has taken on the mantle, and Matt Reeves is directing. Reeves directed the two most recent Planet of the Apes films, which were both fun and serious action films. That style and tone could translate well to a Batman flick, so here’s hoping for a return to form for the character.

After that there is a myriad of films slated, James Gunn is making a Suicide Squad movie, which sounds incredible quite frankly. What he did with Guardians of the Galaxy means I will watch anything he touches now. Shazam and Aquaman are both set for sequels, The Flash movie has been in development for years, The Rock was announced as playing Black Adam years ago but so far there’s been no sign of that, and then we have a potential Batgirl film. Oh, and a horror film called The Trench, based on the trench Aquaman dives down in his solo film.

All these individual films sound fun, what’s missing is any obvious connecting tissue. I am assuming that the plan is still to build a Universe that can eventually lead to another Justice League film. Right now, there is no team up movie to connect everything together in the pipeline, and maybe that is intentional. Perhaps they want to focus on the current slate and get each individual character’s film right before trying to bring them together. It was rushed before, that much is obvious, and in their haste to catch up to Marvel they tripped and fell on their faces.

I genuinely hope that all these upcoming films shock me and are brilliant, my fear is that so far, they haven’t made a single film that’s been there for me. They do have a chance now though, especially with Marvel having essentially capped off their MCU for the time being and will be focusing on new characters and ones we haven’t quite got the same connection to like Dr Strange. They’ve lost Iron Man and Cap, the heads of the MCU, and Spiderman is unlikely to be returning.

DC have all their toys, they have time, and they could step up and be the next big franchise. Here’s hoping they can get it right this time.

ChAzJS

 

Wonder Woman Review

Wonder Woman is finally here and on top of the pressure of being the first female lead superhero film, it also comes into a DC universe that has divided everyone’s opinion. So far i liked Man of Steel but BvS and Suicide Squad both disappointed. Could Wonder Woman save the day? 

Anyone’s concerns about Gal Gadot’s acting ability in the titular role can be put to rest. She shows she’s more than just a pretty face, and on top of her physicality in the role she proves she has what it takes to lead a superhero franchise. The chemistry between Diana and Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) is the driving force through Wonder Woman and if Pine and Gadot didn’t work together the film would have fallen apart.

The two take centre stage and with the smattering of quirky and fun characters around them make for an entertaining cast of characters to follow on this adventure. Ewen Bremner as crazy Scotsman Charlie stands out in the small group of soldiers and Robin Wright as Amazon Warrior Antiope is the best of the Amazons. Beware if you have been watching House of Cards as i have then seeing First Lady Claire Underwood dressed like an Amazon is a tad weird at first.

To get halfway into a superhero movie review without mentioning the fight scenes is a testament to the quality of the characters we follow in this film. That connection makes the action scenes even more impactful and in my opinion Wonder Woman has the best fighting in any DC movie. The use of slow motion is brilliant, where normal films use slow mo at the point a punch actually impacts with an enemy, director Patty Jenkins slows down the action just before and creates a moment where you can see everything that is happening, and about to happen, before the action accelerates to normal speed. It is a great effect and one i hope to see more of, particularly in the DC movies. There may not be a lot of action in Wonder Woman but when it hits, it hits hard.

One downside to Wonder Woman it is that i felt it started a little slowly, but once it gets going the tempo is consistent and keeps you in the story. The biggest downer on the film is one a lot of Marvel films suffer from (Oh no i compared marvel and DC) in that the villain was pretty poor. The final battle is exciting to watch but i think after 10 years of MCU, 18 years of Xmen and several years of DC we are a bit over saturated with the kind of final battles we get in these films and its only when something is extremely creative like Ant-man or Dr.Strange that the final battles are particularly memorable.

Verdict

Wonder Woman is the best film so far in the DC Cinematic world, and whilst some would argue that isn’t hard, it’s probably the best DC film since a certain Mr Nolan gave us the Dark Knight. The action is awesome and the character of Diana is someone they can build the DC universe around and by following the template they’ve got in this film the future of the DC universe looks brighter than it ever has.

8/10 – Wonder why they didn’t try this sooner