Samuel Brace on Justice League…
Can the DCEU be saved? Should we even care? Is the endeavour even worth it?
Justice League arrives in cinemas next week and along with it perhaps the last chance for WB to save their DC cinematic universe. It’s been a bumpy road to get to this point, and it wasn’t at all hard to see this coming. But now that we are here, and the future of the franchise rests almost entirely on one film’s shoulders, is the damn thing even worth saving?
I’m not saying that we should root for Justice League to fail, but if it does, and that in turn brings us a better quality product down the road, that wouldn’t exactly be the worst thing in the world.
Justice League, on the surface of things, from the material available to us so far, looks to be Batman v Superman Part II, and that is not a good thing, it’s not a good thing at all. Justice League is presenting itself as the antipode of films like The Dark Knight, being the opposite of a neat, concise, story driven thriller, of films where the stakes are tangible, where they carry some actual weight and heft.
And is this really what we want from our movies? Can’t we ask for a little better? For something more? I think we can, and I think we should.
But there are myriad things that DC can do to improve their situation, to make better films, and they attempted to do some of this with Wonder Woman, and succeeded to a small degree – though calling Wonder Woman anything more than an okay movie is the height of asininity.
Best superhero movie ever? Give me a break.
But at this juncture, why even bother? Isn’t the damage already far too great? Why not just blow it up and start from scratch, do away with the connected universe and just make one-off films. Wouldn’t that be a treat.
So the argument that things would be far easier if Justice League simply tanked, and WB thusly washed their hands of the whole thing, is not without merit.
Is this likely to happen? No, of course not. Justice League, even if it receives horrendous reviews, will make a gazillion dollars and it will be just enough for the endeavour to continue. And while it would be wonderful if JL came out and was the best thing ever, wiping the floor with everything that came before it, I just can’t see it happening, and I’m not even sure if that would be for the best.
Honestly, I just don’t care anymore. I don’t care if Marvel’s Thanos gets the Infinity Gauntlet, and I certainly don’t care if DC’s Darkseid conquers the world, or whatever it is he wants to do. None of this is interesting and it’s all taken far too long to happen.
I just want good stories, but DC isn’t offering any, sadly – they’re not offering much of anything at all.
But what’s that you say? Justice League will be funny? There’s going to be jokes now? Well, hot damn, that changes everything.
DC’s problem isn’t that it’s too dark. DC’s problem isn’t that it doesn’t have enough jokes or humour to balance out the melancholy. DC’s problem is that their films aren’t good. There are plenty of great films with barely a smile to be seen. No one would care if DC’s films were funny or not if they were of sufficient quality.
Instead of trying to make people laugh, Justice League, and DC going forward, should just try to make people care.
Because how invested is anyone really in this world? Who is aching to see what happens to Superman? Who is desperate to see Bruce conquer his demons? Who just can’t wait to see if this new team is able to save the day? The answer must surely be nobody at all.
That’s not to say people aren’t looking forward to Justice League. Of course they are, but it’s not potential resolution of story that is exciting them, it’s not character development that is driving them to the screens – it’s the event that they want to see, it’s the show, the content is almost irrelevant.
Now, I always try to clarify that this isn’t just a DC problem, its just that they suffer from this affliction most of all. Because obviously Marvel is by no means immune, as no one can say with a straight face that they’re just so darn anxious to find out how things end for Captain America.
That person doesn’t exist.
When characters exist in perpetuity, when there’s no end in sight, nothing matters, and when nothing matters, no one cares.
It doesn’t have to be this way but it will always be this way unless drastic changes are made. And if Justice League won’t ring in those changes, forgive me if I don’t cry you a river if it should fail to win the day.