Things are not so great over in the DC Extended Universe at the moment. Case in point: Justice League, the superhero team up that was supposed to be the DCEU equivalent of an Avengers film, ended up becoming the worst-performing DCEU film to date. (Admittedly, that’s like saying you wanted a gold-encrusted Ferrari and only got a normal one, but still.) More significant than the box-office dip, however, is the DCEU’s reputation—namely, that it’s in shambles, with the common perception being these movies tend to suck. What’s a poor little international corporation to do?
Warner Bros., the studio behind the DCEU movies, is already starting to do some serious rethinking of how it approaches these films, but Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, the writers who gave us the last two Captain America films and penned Avengers: Infinity War (as well as the still-untitled Avengers 4), offered up a small suggestion recently as to how to rejigger the DCEU. It starts with clearing the table and starting again with some very different heroes. In an interview with Kevin Smith for his Fat Man On Batman podcast, the two were asked by the writer-director how they might go about fixing DC’s woes.
Smith posed it thusly: “If somebody offered you a fuck-ton of money and swayed you to the dark side, and said, ‘Fix these fucking movies,’ how would you fix the DC Universe?” And rather than very politely saying, “Go back in time seven years and do everything differently,” Markus pointed out that what Marvel was forced to do at the time ended up working in the studio’s favor.
I would look at what Marvel did out of necessity, in that they didn’t have their A-list characters. They didn’t have Spider-Man. They didn’t have the X-Men. And they went down a line and found a—I mean, he’s pretty fucking famous, he’s Iron Man, but he wasn’t [gestures up high] there—and they made a really good movie out of it. I might put Batman and Superman and everybody else–I mean Wonder Woman is doing fine—aside for a second. Go through the vast world and go, “That guy” or “That girl,” and go, “Let’s just make a really good movie and not a universe, and see what happens.” You know? There’s a lot of spaghetti being thrown at the wall.
While McFeely didn’t have much to add—“My familiarity with the DC universe is not that great,” he admits—he agreed Warner Bros. should back away from the interconnected universe and instead focus on making one character’s journey into a great film. “To quote Justice League: Just save one person,” he added, to enthusiastic applause from the assembled comic fans. No word yet on whether DC is watching its own movie and saying, “Hmmm, that’s a good point,” but presumably this very debate is unfolding behind closed doors, probably accompanied by a lot of close looks at Black Canary. (As well as a lot of seriously crossed fingers that this is just what Aquaman is already set up to do.)