(Possible Spoilers Ahead)
DC thought that they would be able to reverse the Marvel formula by starting their franchise with their all-star ensemble, the Justice League. It wasn’t an entirely bad idea. The characters are known well enough around the world that they wouldn’t need their own films to introduce them like characters in the MCU. Sure, Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk were popular but Iron-Man and Black Widow were essential nobody’s favorite before the franchise took off. This plan would have worked better if they didn’t make Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which I can’t say I didn’t enjoy. DC films is really good with set pieces, action scenes, and music, which are all things that establish a good mood, but don’t make up an entire feature length film. Overall though, the movies are bad and they lose credibility with each passing one (with the partial exception of Wonder Woman).
At first, they were taking some pretty exciting risks. It felt fresh seeing Ben Affleck’s Batman fight that warehouse full of guys knowing in the back of your mind that he’s definitely killing some if not all of them, and honestly, in his line of work, it was bound to happen even if only by accident. I thought Superman killing Zod made total sense for a lot of reasons but because ultimately Superman would have had to pick between the people of Earth and the people of Krypton and Zod wasn’t going to stop unless he killed every human trying to save Krypton.
Then at some point there was a shift. Killing Superman in the third act of Batman v Superman was unexpected to the point that I applaud them taking the risk but immediately take it back because of the last scene of the movie. He’s Superman, we knew he was going to come back but they couldn’t stick to the decision in the very same movie it was made in. And there are similar problems in their other movies. Wonder Woman builds up the idea that evil and the conflicts of this world are complicated and don’t come from maniacal masterminds only for the movie to end with her defeating a big bad and saving everything. Suicide Squad is essentially two movies spliced together about bad guys fighting bigger bad guys for good causes, or something.
Which is their main problem: what do they want? DC started in the shadow of The Dark Knight and since then has been reacting to everything Marvel‘s been doing. Marvel’s movies work because they had and still have a well thought out plan. DC now thinks that Joss Whedon is going to work a miracle and turn the franchise around with the Justice League. This certainly isn’t a step in the wrong direction but overall it was Kevin Fiege who was making the big decisions. They have Geoff Johns and if anybody in their camp was going to have that position it should be him, but DC needs to get on the same page. They need to figure what they want, how they’re going to go about it, and stick to the decisions they make.
I’m super excited about Justice League, like ecstatic. But, I feel like this has the potential to be the worst movie from them yet and the expectation both for and against it don’t work in the movie’s favor. I have to walk into every DC movie like I’ve never seen one before which is a terrible thing to have to do for a a cinematic universe. That’s akin to being on the third or fourth episode of a TV show pretending that the first few episodes don’t exist. After Justice League I won’t be doing this anymore. As a franchise and a cinematic universe, each passing venture should add to the existing body of work and properly lay the groundwork for the next.
For instance, the destruction in Man of Steel that was heavily criticized is much more justifiable knowing that the characters would have to deal with the consequences in Batman v Superman.