Seriously, how any times have we seen this argument posed? Though it has calmed a little over the years, the Marvel vs DC war is still ongoing. Then again, maybe people just like riling it up again. On a recent episode of Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, an audience member asked Diane Lane (who plays Martha Kent in the DCEU) if she could give any spoilers for Justice League and whether or not it’d be better than Marvel’s Avengers. The answer was a very short “No and no”… well this is awkward!
Now I’m going to be playing both Critical Observer AND Devil’s Advocate in this article because as awkward as this quote is – and it is REALLY awkward – it’s unfair to compare both films. That being said, there are still some major things that the DCEU HAS to address if it wants to be a superhero film.
Addressing The Awkward – What DC HAS To Learn:
Let’s face it. Having an actress say that their film is nowhere near as good as the film their competition put out 5 years ago is pretty bad. As I’ve discussed in previous articles, it’s hard to figure out if the problems with the DCEU stem from the DCEU itself or the last minute edits Warner Bros always seems to get involved with. Whatever the case may be, the DCEU has a major problem with pacing and tone (both thematically and visually). Batman V Superman’s theatrical release was a rushed mess and there’s fears that can and WILL happen again. Throw in the reviews of Suicide Squad and all the rumors of Batfleck wanting out/ film directors dropping out and things look pretty dark!
Speaking of dark, the biggest thing DC needs to address is both the emotional and chromatic tone of their films. Life is a mix of good times and bad/ day and night, so please stop presenting characters that brood as heavily as the midnight filter that goes over them. Marvel and DC are taking different routes, so it’s not fair to compare them in regard to universe composition, but they are both Superhero films; and Superheroes inspire! Yes you want to make a hero relatable and thus flawed, but only so that the audience can realize “hey, this person is incredibly flawed and still tries to make a difference! Maybe I can to!” Though if you look at the path DC has taken, maybe they are starting to learn some of these lessons.
Devil’s Advocate #1 – Placing Diane Lane’s Quote In The LARGER Context:
Now the quote that started all of this seems pretty cut and dry right? Nothing to really take out of context. You can even watch the interview itself in full, but I want to put this into the LARGER context. Imagine how many times she and others are asked these questions. It must get annoying after a while, so a short and sweet “No” makes sense. But just because it won’t be BETTER than The Avengers doesn’t mean it’ll be bad. Remember that Marvel had 4 years to slowly lead up to their major crossover film. We wont get that awe-inspiring “they’re assembled!” moment, but the Justice League can still have as strong a presence. In short: think of DC and Marvel as two cars with the same destination. Marvel has a detailed roadmap while DC just seems to be off-roading it. They can both still get there and DC’s trip might even be a little faster – but it will also be bumpier!
Devil’s Advocate #2 – How The DCEU Is Already Changing:
Yes Man of Steel was bleak and uninspiring. Yes Batman V Superman wasn’t good when it originally came out; but then we got the Director’s Cut and it was better. Much better! And the same can be (hopefully) said about the upcoming DCEU films. Wonder Woman actually has daylight in it, which is surprisingly a big thing in this franchise! Additionally, the Justice League trailers came with more humor and a couple of day light scenes as well – not many but they’re there! The point is, the DCEU does seem to be addressing their issues.
Now for all we know, these hopeful trailers might still result in movies that are a mess (ie: Suicide Squad); but I’m going to be the optimist here. Justice League might not be The Avengers, where an organization (ie: SHIELD) tries to bring a bunch of experienced heroes together to face a larger threat. Instead, this is a tale of two experienced heroes who have to quickly assemble a team of unknown and untested individuals in order to face a larger threat. The difference is slight, but important! Remember how the animated Justice League series began: several established characters meeting up with a bunch of new heroes because their entire world was already under threat. So with the Justice League trailer hinting at Parademon attacking everywhere from Atlantis to Metropolis, it looks like we might be getting a similar tale!
So in the words of one of my favorite Mel Brooks movies, “Hope for the best, expect the worst!” The DCEU doesn’t have to follow the Marvel formula, but it can still learn from it and – most importantly – from themselves! So let’s get ready to Assemble some Justice on November 17th when Justice League hits theaters!