Opinion, Reviews

The DC Extended Universe: Marvel’s less successful cousin

With the release of “Aquaman” at the end of 2018 and “Shazam” scheduled to release April 5, the DC Extended Universe is still moving forward despite heavy competition from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  

The franchise began as a response to the success of the Marvel film franchise under Disney. So DC, owned by Disney’s rival, Warner Brothers, decided to try its own hand at a cinematic universe.

DC has made several films in the past. Early on, DC had more success with feature films than Marvel did, with Tim Burton’s “Batman” and Richard Donner’s “Superman,” which is technically the first superhero film, being released in 1979. Meanwhile, Marvel, in the beginning, had a much more shaky start, with movies like “Howard the Duck” and 1990s “Captain America.”

Following the success of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy came “Man of Steel” in 2013, though set in a different universe. It was envisioned as a Superman story set in a modern world with Henry Cavill as the last son of Krypton and Zack Snyder directing.

While it was a financial success, it was not a critical one, and sadly, “Man of Steel” sets up a few recurring themes for the DCEU. At the end of the day, “Man of Steel” received mixed reviews, especially for its darker tone in depicting Superman. This caused a big divide among the fanbase.

Three years later, the much-awaited premiere of “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” came. There was a lot of hype surrounding this film as it attempted to be “The Avengers” of the DCEU. However, Marvel had the advantage of having established every major Marvel superhero before they appeared in “The Avengers.” DC tried to do the opposite by establishing several major DC superheroes in “Batman V. Superman,” followed by solo films for each.

But like “Man of Steel,” “Batman V. Superman” received mixed reviews. Much like the recent “Star Wars” movie, opinion on “Batman V. Superman” was divided with people on both sides: those who think it’s trash and those who think it’s great. Both of these camps have argued passionately online – too passionately, I might add. Calling this “nerd rage” would be very appropriate.

This division has affected the DCEU as well. Some fans bash their movies, others defend them. There are some exceptions though. I think that most audience members can agree that “Suicide Squad,” also released in 2016, is a bad movie. And I think most can agree that “Wonder Woman,” released in 2017, is a good one.

Last year’s “Justice League” is more like “Batman V. Superman” with more strongly divided criticism. With the exception of “Wonder Woman” and solid reviews for “Aquaman,” all DCEU movies have received negative scores on Rotten Tomatoes.

In my opinion, the DCEU is a flawed franchise. No matter how you feel on the franchise, it could have been better executed. Maybe the reason for this is that the studios rushed production trying to compete with Marvel? The real advantage for the MCU isn’t having more films than the DCEU, it’s having higher quality films.

Honestly, with the exception of “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman,” all of DCEU films are full of flaws. But with that in mind, the only movies I would say are truly bad are “Suicide Squad” and “Man of Steel.” Snyder’s more mature take on Superman ended up sucking all of the fun out of the character. “Batman V. Superman” is an okay movie that has its entertaining moments and “Justice League” is a decent movie.

“Aquaman” is a good movie. Maybe the same will go for “Shazam” and the upcoming movie “Joker,” set to premiere next year starring Joaquin Phoenix as the clown prince of crime. Maybe DCEU has found its stride after stumbling at first.

And if not, I hope they’re bad. Why? Because movies that are just OK aren’t fun to talk about. At least with a bad movie, you can talk about how bad it was.

And it would be nice if the online “advocating” could stop as well. It ruins the fun of debating your opinion about movies and, in turn, being an audience member. It takes something fun and somehow makes it feel political, like saying your true opinion might put you at odds with the pro-DC party or the anti-DC party.

It’s really dumb when you think about it. It’s literally the definition of a First World problem. Don’t you guys have anything better to do? And this is coming from a guy who writes online reviews every week for no pay. You know it’s bad when I tell you to get a life.

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