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Sunday, 15 April 2018

DCU: HOW THE DC CINEMATIC UNIVERSE COULD BE SAVED


The DC Cinematic universe has had a bumpy ride since its inception, with some odd choices made and directions taken that didn't entirely work in its favour. Look at Suicide Squad as a major release prior to the big names getting together, Batman Vs Superman's of the Doomsday concept and story, Justice League winding up looking like a video game cut scene in places, for example. Each of the DC movies has had its elements that worked really well, but the output thus far has seen critics and fans less than impressed with most releases. The exception to this is Wonder Woman, the gigantic hit that turned Gal Gadot's Diana brought to the forefront of the DCU as its star, way in front of both Superman and Batman.

This is quite understandable, as Gal, Patty Jenkins, Chris Pine and everyone involved in the Wonder Woman movie brought us a film which adhered more to traditional adventure elements instead of grim brooding and shots which look great in trailers but out of place in films. The Wonder Woman movie gave audiences what they wanted from a DC film – an engaging story, real heroism and genuinely charismatic main character. It looked fantastic and felt complete, unlike movies such as Batman V Superman or Justice League which could certainly have benefited from being shorter and more to the point.

 All of which has lead the shared comic book movie universe throne occupied by Marvel alone. They built the MCU over the space of a decade, adding layers, ongoing storylines and embellishing it all with new characters and quite a direct style of film-making which managed to ground the fantasy elements in, if not reality, at least an internally consistent and believable context. Even in the case of movies like Doctor Strange or Thor: Ragnarok.


So how can the DCU be saved from the uneven start it has had? Rebooting it? That seems like the most sensible option, but how about taking a sidestep for a couple of years – or maybe even two sidesteps which have never been done before? What I'd suggest is offering two DC animated movies on the big screen – in current DCU canon – as a palate cleanser, and a DCU themed TV series running alongside them.

The TV series and animated movies could weave in and out of each other, creating the shared universe feel that Marvel spent so long building but within a far more condensed period. I feel it was a bit of a misstep for the DCU to ignore the DC television properties already ongoing, as including elements like Grant Gustin's Flash or Melissa Benoist's Supergirl would have given the DCU a shared universe straight away.

Hell, Flashpoint could have been a story idea to mix the universes, which could then be unified in a Crisis on Infinite Earths style project. Between DCU movies the Arrowverse characters could continue on their adventures, saving the big stuff like Darkseid for the big screen instead. But why animated movies? My reasoning for that would be that the Trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman (until Gal Gadot, of course) have worked best on the small screen in their cartoon counterparts.


The development of the characters throughout things like Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League: Action, Batman The Brave and the Bold and even DC Superhero Girls have been far more attuned to the foundations of the characters than the films. Following in their footsteps – voiced by their Justice League movie star incarnations, perhaps – may add another dimension to the DCU and bring a unified tone that could then be replicated in future live action films.

It may not work, but I'd say it's worth a shot and would offer some DCU entertainment that the whole family – and thus larger audiences – could enjoy. Take out the swearing. Be true to the characters that have been icons for seventy years, and be true to the audience that bought into those characters for so long as well as audiences who are just now discovering them. Heroes are for everyone, after all, and I'd love to see my heroes save themselves just as much as I want them to save the world.


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