10 Ways To Save The DC Extended Universe

DC has hardly been greeted with open arms following the release of their Extended Movie Universe (the DCEU). Some may argue that they haven’t been given a fair crack of the whip but when the numbers are crunched, they speak for themselves.

It begs the question; what are they doing wrong?  How can they follow in the footsteps of their comic book counterparts, Marvel?  The quick answer to that is they can’t, because Marvel possess something that DC do not at this present moment in time; patience. They do not have the patience to build a story and develop it from the inside out, to set a foundation of characters and story arcs that an audience can really get behind.

However, there is hope for them yet as, if by some miracle; Patty Jenkins’ stand-alone Wonder Woman movie shines a glimmer of hope on the future of the DC cinematic empire, gaining rip-roaring reviews and almost blowing the dial off the Rotten Tomatoes Richter scale. Sisters are doing it for themselves! ‘Is she with you?’, ‘I thought she was with you?’ No, guys, as it turns out, you’re with her.But they’re not out of the woods yet. They must refrain from tightening their grip on the Lasso of Truth and milking every last drip of integrity. It’s going to be tricky, as success is usually followed by greed, but should they have the gumption to follow my 10 tips, they may just save the DCEU yet.

1. Build your universe from the ground up

DC had a good start with Man Of Steel which, admittedly, was not entirely well received to begin with. It was an easy fix but in an attempt to jump ahead of the competition in the popularity scales, they shot straight into Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice which is ultimately the cinematic equivalent of blowing your load too early.

They must introduce their characters respectively and give them their own reason to exist within that universe, especially if they are to feature in a collective movie like Justice League. You cannot have method without motive.


2. Stick to core characters

DC is fortunate enough to have a quarry of the most iconic superheroes in history to play with and, as much as people say they are tired of origin stories, it has to be done. Batman, The Flash and…  OK, Aquaman too… all need their stories told before we can invest in a cross-over movie.

Admittedly, it’s a little late in the day with Justice League now imminent but it’s not too late to draw it back with some prequels and, if Wonder Woman‘s current ratings are anything to go by, there’s a chance it will enhance the current movies.

3. Forge relationships

BvS was considered a failure because, truth be told, the audience were just not ready for it yet. They managed to dismiss DC’s, arguably, most prominent character, Batman, by shoehorning him into a story which was essentially a Superman sequel. And nobody puts Batman in the corner.

When Captain America and Iron-Man came to blows in Civil War, it created more of an impact because the audience have lived through a seven movie build up over an extended period of time. You could cut the tension with a vibranium shield. Batman and Superman barely cross paths before they are ready to tear each other apart, making their alliance at the end of the movie extremely lazy and anticlimactic. Die, die, die, die, oh we’re friends.


4. Make the movies more accessible

One of the many things Marvel can be commended for is that their movies are very accessible to a wide range of age groups. They cater to the younger generation, as they can enjoy watching their heroes bounce around in colourful costumes, and the more serious undertones appeal to bigger kids.

There’s no denying Zack Snyder‘s apocalyptic vision is recognizably unique compared to Marvel but, by attempting to separate themselves from the competition, they have distanced themselves from their key demographic – those pesky kids or, as I like to call them, money vacuums.


5. Find a formula and stick with it

One thing DC cannot be accused of is repetitiveness.  Their movies are distinctive and can stand alone, although, that can sometimes be confusing especially in terms of a timeline. When Batman and The Flash give their little cameos in Suicide Squad, it’s extremely difficult to determine where that fits within the story.

Marvel have been criticized for churning out the same story, one after the other, but they are creatively consistent. They have built a foundation, paid their dues and now they are able to experiment with different structures, styles, and directors.

6. Keep It Simple, Stupid

Batman v Superman was an exceptionally lengthy movie and I’m not even talking about the extended version. It begs the question if current movies are becoming way too long, but that’s for another article. Snyder provides some incredible cinematography and special effects to his movies but the fault lies within the editing.

Truth be told, the extended version of BvS clears up any plot holes from the theatrical version and makes a lot more sense. With some smart editing, that would have never have been a factor.


7. Be brave

Marvel usually give us a movie per year which would be considered a big gamble for them, however, they also release along with it that year a sure-fire hit. Suicide Squad is another example from DC that came way too early and was not properly thought through. Fans love an Easter egg or two. Continue to casually introduce DC characters through stronger and well-prepared movies, giving them more prominent roles in future editions.


8. Work on your villains

It’s no secret that Marvel has not had a great run when it comes to their villains. However, DC has already shown their best cards way too soon with Lex Luthor, Doomsday and The Joker all becoming frustratingly unfortunate, wasted opportunities. But it is fixable; get them back into circulation, work on their objectives, and release a prequel or two. What happened to Robin? We all need to know!

9. Share the load with some talented directors

While some may say Zack Snyder is a visionary, others would tend to disagree. Directors can be much like their movies, a little hit and miss, and David Ayer is a fine example of that when he was given free reign over Suicide Squad.

Kevin Feige is notorious for keeping a tight leash on director’s creative control. It has caused a few upsets and walkouts, but they seem to get it right every time. Warner Bros. needs to be a little more vigilant with their formula. Patty Jenkins got something very right with Wonder Woman. They need to harness that and inject it into future movies.


10. Introduce a lot more humour

Henry Cavill was extremely well cast as Superman but it was his brooding take on Clark Kent that ultimately disappointed fans. Wonder Woman has steadied the ship for now with Diana adopting a rather humorous fish-out-of-water complex in her solo outing.

The DCEU needs to be brought back to its comic book roots. We’ve been introduced to some jokes in the new Justice League trailer where all cast members get their fair share of the punts; Batman’s bitter sarcasm (typical), The Flash and his quirky persona and Aquaman’s bravado. Humour creates heart and that is a huge part of what DC’s movies are missing.

So, there you have it, guys. Some sound advice from a man who unashamedly watches a lot of superhero movies. DC may not have patience but they are certainly persistent, and thanks to their sheer determination to get one up on the competition, they’ve finally cracked it with a strong, female lead. Something even Marvel are yet to accomplish.

However, that could be an indication that Wonder Woman may owe a lot of its success to it being inherently fresh material, and people have become tired of men in tights, they want women in armour… very skimpy armour. Something tells me Wonder Woman cosplay will outsell Harley Quinn this year.