The Kenblog: What’s Wrong With WB’s Superheroes?
Howdy folks! It’s The Kendog!
It looks like “Suicide Squad” is in the same boat with the critics as “Batman vs. Superman” earlier this year. Despite heavy promotion, a different director in David Ayer and a superstar cast including Will Smith and Margot Robbie, this latest foray into the DC Cinematic Universe has been slammed by critics much in the same manner as Zach Snyder’s latest tent pole effort involving the Bat and the Big Blue Boy Scout. You listen to my review here and while I’m not as pessimistic as my colleagues, I do think of “Suicide Squad” as a missed opportunity. DC has an incredible comic history with some of the most iconic characters in fiction. Making a cinematic universe with entertaining and engaging stories should be a walk in the park, but somehow Warner Bros. has made a point of creating polarizing pieces of entertainment that fail to resonate with the general movie going audience.
So what went wrong?
It’s my humble opinion that this is a prime example of a studio chasing the almighty dollar by trying to “keep up with the Joneses” rather than relying on their own creative output. The Joneses to which I’m referring are of course Marvel Studios and their parent company Disney. The Marvel Cinematic Universe unfolded one film at the time, staring with “Iron Man” in 2008 and they used individual films to gently provide the connective cinematic tissue needed to create their shared universe. By the time “The Avengers” arrived audiences knew and loved these characters and Joss Whedon’s superpowered team up felt like a big, emotional event. Marvel Studios has stuck with this plan through thick and thin, giving even lesser-known characters like Ant-Man room to shine. The result has been massively entertaining for fans and massively profitable for both Marvel and Disney.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. seems to be in a big hurry to play catch-up, and in so doing have been providing movies more interested in building a franchise than telling a compelling story. The film division should really take a page from the DC Television division on CW: those guys, led by Greg Berlanti, know how to make a compelling shared universe. “The Flash,” “Arrow,” “Legends Of Tomorrow,” and soon “Supergirl” are all programs that stand so well on their own that when two or more of them come together in crossover events it feels like a big deal.
Ultimately these first few films from Warner Bros. could end up being just a minor speed bump on the road to cinematic comic book greatness, but they have to learn that the movie has to stand on its own two feet from an artistic, or at least, entertainment, standpoint before it can be successfully added to a shared cinematic universe. Give us a couple of stories and multiple characters to care about before you throw them all in a blender and hit “frappe.”
To the end, it was announced a few months ago that Geoff Johns is being put in charge of Warner Bros. DC extended universe. This is very much in keeping with the Marvel method, as Kevin Feige holds that position for Disney. Johns is a comic book veteran who knows the material and can perhaps shepherd flamboyant but somewhat erratic talents like Zach Snyder and David Ayer to better second (or in Snyder’s case, third) efforts in the DC playground. Not to mention the fact that he’s got talented filmmakers like Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) and James Wan (Aquaman) on the hook for those solo films. He even recently added Ben Affleck to the mix to direct and star in a solo Batman movie.
It’s a roster of talent that can’t be denied. The secret is for the suits at Warner Bros. to extend a little trust to Johns and his filmmakers the way Disney/Marvel have done to Kevin Feige. Let the work speak for itself. DC has as much, if not more, comic history than Marvel on its side with literally hundreds (if not thousands) of potentially wonderful stories to tell. Let the filmmakers tell those stories and soon everyone in the movie going world will pay to see Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and all the other DC heroes and villains on the big screen. Comic book movies aren’t going away anytime soon, and that being the case, I want them to be as good as they can possibly be. Otherwise, what’s the damn point?
So Sayeth The Kendog!