While the Marvel Universe has seen great success at the box office, DC's movies have had a much harder time getting off the ground. But why? For some people it's not their cup of tea, but when it comes to actually looking into this universe’s story, why do comic fans and critics dislike a huge percentage of the universe?
The first movie to be part of it was the “Man Of Steel” (2013) directed by Zack Snyder, in which Superman, portrayed by Henry Cavill, was introduced. His origins were fascinating to many people, and the main villain (Zod) was quite convincing. The script was good enough and the movie had good visuals. Therefore comic fans didn't really hate it, although critics still didn't give it such positive reviews; but, compared to the later ones, this film did relatively well.
After that “Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice”, also directed by Zack Snyder, came out in 2016. This movie had Henry Cavill reprising his role as Superman and Ben Affleck portraying Batman. There wasn’t a Batman movie in the DCEU yet, so this was the film that introduced him. The main problem with the movie wasn't really the villain, Lex Luthor (although he definitely wasn't perfect) but mostly the fact that this film seemed like a bad attempt to smash “The Death Of Superman” and “The Dark Knight Returns” storylines together when they just were not meant to be connected. In here we get to hear about the Justice League’s future members for the first time, too. There are fans who enjoyed it, but even though it made 872.7 million USD at the box office, it wasn't generally appreciated by the audience.
A few months after that “Suicide Squad” (2016) came out. The movie was directed by David Ayer and it had a lot of success. Indeed even before coming out, the movie acquired a lot of attention and the squad became very popular. Not all of the people who gave attention to it actually liked it though, in fact it is one of the most criticised movies in the DCEU, by critics but especially by comic fans. Perhaps because the script wasn't one of the best. Indeed the movie’s humor was cheap an the lines that were meant to be touching (such as El Diablo calling the squad “family” after having spent six hours with them) sounded very poorly written and forced or just didn’t make sense most of the time. The main villain, Enchantress, was not very convincing (plus the lousy way she was defeated…), and so a good character was made into a forgettable one.
But in 2017, when “Wonder Woman” (directed by Patty Jenkins) came out, DCEU finally gained some points, because the audience loved it. In this origin movie Gal Gadot portrays a tenacious Diana Prince/Wonder Woman who wants to discover the man’s world, and once she gets to understand how it works, she tries to save it. It has a good plot and good script supported by beautiful slow motions scenes where we get to see the superhero in all of her courage and strength.
And for now the last movie on the list is “Justice League”, which came out in 2017 before any of the members, besides Superman and Wonder Woman, had their own origin movie. Here Batman, inspired by Superman’s sacrifice in order to save the humanity from Doomsday, and Wonder Woman decide to put together a team of superheroes to deal with even bigger threats than the past ones. Its villain was quite forgettable and the plot wasn’t bad over all, but it was nothing special. Moreover, some fans just didn't like how it was reshot (by Joss Whedon). The movie was appreciated enough by comic readers, although critics didn't give it such good reviews. Look at Rotten Tomatoes’s reviews for example).
The DCEU is a little messy and in introducing new characters it seems to be in a rush, impatient of expanding the universe. Maybe it's trying to catch up to Marvel.
Indeed just after one movie (MoS) we got ‘Batman Vs Superman’ before we could get a Batman origin movie to be part of the continuity. Then right after that ‘Suicide Squad’ came out before we could see any of the villains-protagonists introduced in a movie against their nemesis. Another flaw of the movie is how some of the characters’s background stories were developed. Deadshot’s story was not bad but of course they couldn’t give his origins too much screen time. Joker and Harley’s story can't be simply introduced with some flashbacks because it's much more complex than what they've shown us. Plus we didn't get to see Flag and June’s dynamic, and so it goes on. For example, it would've been better to see Captain Boomerang at his full villanous potential against Flash before seeing him trying to save the world (in a too soft version just like all of the others, if you ask me).
And still in a rush, after ‘Wonder Woman’ the Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, WW and Batman teamed up in “Justice League” before we had an origin movie of any of the members besides Diana’s. And before anyone says they were hinted at earlier, let me underline that the hints at the JL’s members in BvS were not enough to already make them team up. Luckily enough, we're going to get a solo for each member and all of the upcoming projects sound exciting (like Justice League Dark), except there’s a movie not all of comic readers think should be part of the universe: ‘Flashpoint’. Flashpoint is a very popular comic, so it's kind of obvious why it is going to part of the DCEU, but the issue here is that it's too early to bring it on the big screen. Barry needs to fully become a superhero and then develop as a character while his story goes on.
But even though there was a lot criticism and sometimes disappointment, after the latest movies, fans believe that this universe still can get better within the next projects. Moreover, fans will never get tired of seeing their favorite superheroes on screen.
Comics lover & writer.