If there was ever a moment in time where fans across the world could slap their foreheads at an I-told-you-so remark, well, this would definitely be the one.
Variety recently conducted an interview with DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and Jon Berg, the head of Warner Brothers’ DC Films division, on the recent success of Patty Jenkins’ breakout winner Wonder Woman and how the two are currently planning out various sequels for DC Films. Variety correspondent Brett Lang didn’t waste time in getting both men to open up to the opportunities that DC Films needs to address to better entertain audiences without further alienating fans. When Lang inquired why Wonder Woman was such a rousing hit for the studio, Berg and Johns got right to the point;
Jon Berg: It’s a fun movie. It’s positive and optimistic. The early films may have been too dark in parts.Geoff Johns: Most of the DC Universe is known as being a hopeful and optimistic place. It’s known for characters that are inspirational and aspirational. Anyone who knows and loves the DC Universe knows that a lot of that has to do with its hope and optimism.
Jon Berg: There are lessons from every movie. You would be silly not to analyze how a movie was received — what went right and what went wrong on the making of a movie. On Suicide Squad, the movie did incredibly well commercially. It didn’t work narratively. You had some great casting and some great characterizations, but where the story fell down was on narrative, on plot. We could do better. Batman v. Superman was tonally dark. People didn’t respond to that.
Wait – what?! The first thought that crossed my mind, as well as most of you I’m sure?
Well, at least Warner Brothers became acutely aware that they had a big problem on their hands. Batman v. Superman released into theaters on March 25th, 2016. Though the Zack Snyder-directed film earned $873.2 million worldwide by the end of its theatrical run the movie was still seen as a disappointment. Produced on a $250 million budget and an undisclosed amount of marketing the film earned just $105.7 million for the studio, prompting studio executives to question future creative directions in the DCEU. Part of the fallout was a shake-up to course correct the behind-the-scenes aspects. In May 2016 Charles Roven, who produced the Dark Knight Trilogy and struck a deal to executive produce the DCEU films, backed out of his six-picture contract, which allowed Jon Berg and Geoff Johns to take control under a new “DC Films” division set up at Warner Brothers.
Naturally, Johns doesn’t think that the entire DCEU should be up-ended and its essence completely forgotten. Four films in, the DC installments have had had a tone on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to Marvel but that is one aspect that DC Films won’t be shying away from going forward. Johns added;
Geoff Johns: Wonder Woman celebrated exactly who the character is, but looking at it, it’s not like we should change everything to be about hope and optimism. There’s nothing to change. That’s what these characters are.
Hopefully, with Johns ability to tell fantastic stories for DC Comics and his past experiences working with the CW for their four DC shows currently on air, the DCEU can find some stability and refocus their stories into something not as depressing and dour. Wonder Woman is their first major success (Johns co-wrote the script with Allan Heinberg) and is already closing in on earning $600 million worldwide. The sequel is being developed with Patty Jenkins tentatively scheduled to direct, with Johns again working on the script. The big test for the DCEU will come this November when Justice League hits theaters around the world. Originally directed by Zack Snyder from a script by Will Beall, Joss Whedon (oh you know – 2012’s The Avengers) is finishing the film while Snyder takes personal time to tend to family matters. At this point no one knows the extent of the work Whedon will complete – but in five months, we’ll have our answer.