Batman V Superman and the Shadow of Marvel
Now that Batman V Superman has come and gone, it looks as if for several years superhero film efforts at Warners/DC have been compromised between two goals: making Marvel-sized money while steering clear of the Marvel style.
Leeching off Marvel would consequently get them labeled as imitators, a morale-damaging issue that would have serious ramifications in the long run, causing problems in enlisting talent and building the large, multi-faceted money-making film universe that only looks simple on the outside when considering DC's army of world famous character properties. The company executives can digest the numbers and see there is a vast audience waiting for superhero movies that meet some undetermined criteria. But, what is it?
The Nolan Batman films harvested that vast audience well (the two Dark Knight movies each grossed over the billion dollar mark) and they contained a style that was not-Marvel. After that, Zach Snyder's Man of Steel did a nice turn with $668,045,518 worldwide gross. That's a great number, but it's not a billion and now it looks like that should have been a warning for Warners/DC.
Disney/Marvel continues to pile up serious box office. Their films come out like clockwork, and of course, the question is what does Marvel have that Warners/DC is lacking? Superficially, Marvel films give a brighter, happier movie experience (with abundant character one-liners) though the plots themselves are dark and charged with fashionable 21st-century cultural angst and paranoia.
The fear I see among the fanbase is that the easy-fix will be for Warner executives to command the pumping of more comedy into the filmland DCU, which could disastrously lead to the bad decisions that produced Batman and Robin, trashing a whole fanbase in one fell swoop.
The bold move at Warners/DC would be to refine what they've already done, use well what they've got, and to build forward using veteran moviemakers who know how to tell a story clearly and with whatever stylistic panache they've developed on their own.
With Suicide Squad coming later this summer, we'll get to see what Warners/DC has decided to learn from March 2016 (what we know is that they're still shooting new footage for the film even this late in the schedule, apparently in a backlash panic over Batman V Superman,) and that is not a good sign.
Too many wrong moves and this contest between the two biggest comic book worlds could start to look like K-Mart vs Wal-Mart.
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