So the great nerd Hajj took place this past weekend in San Diego and there were panels, cosplayers, booths, and…of course…trailers. For more than a decade the annual San Diego Comic Con has been big money and drawn ever bigger stars. And, once again, all eyes were fixed on Hall H and the panels for the big dogs, Marvel and DC. Trailers were shown, some made their way to the interwebs from the studios…others from dudes with cellphones. This is how many of us have gotten to see the trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War. Nearly 10 years and 22 movies have led up to this moment, bringing together characters we have grown with, seen their triumphs and their failures. For someone who grew up reading the comics and watching cartoons about these characters it still amazes me that anyone is taking this material that seriously.
Which is why DC/Warner Bros. has been such a let down to me. Anyone who grew up during the mid to late 90s remembers Batman The Animated series. I recently went back and watched some of it (it’s on Amazon if you have Prime) and it STILL holds up. Batman meets film noir, it dealt with many mature themes I feel like were lost on those of us too young to comprehend, all we knew was that it was dark and awesome! This was followed by a Superman show and then 2 incarnations of the Justice League. There are so many rich stories to be told with these iconic characters. Yet DC/WB have dropped the ball SO hard it’s painful.
Aside from Wonder Woman, the recent and BEST film of the DC cinematic universe, they’ve been OK at best. So, if I had a TARDIS and some psychic paper to impersonate a Warner Bros. exec this is how I would change the DCEU for the better!
#1 Tweak some things about MOS
Look, I actually enjoy Man of Steel, but it has some flaws that need to be addressed, the biggest being that Superman has NO CHARACTER ARC. He’s still the same brooding hottie douchebag throughout the whole film, unable to decide which of his Robin Hood dads to listen to. Now I might be able to excuse this to some degree if we put the issue to bed in the sequel, which by the way…
#2 GIVE SUPERMAN HIS OWN SEQUEL!
THIS.IS.NOT.A.SUPERMAN.SEQUEL. This is a new Batman movie with a cameo by Superman. With the first film being called “Man of Steel”, continue in that vein and call the sequel “Man from Tomorrow” one of Superman’s other nicknames. Introduce Lex Luthor. For the record I was fine with Jessie Eisenberg’s portrayal of the character because it put me in mind of Lex’s origins as a mad scientist. And yes I realize I’m in the minority on this. So basically, dealing with fallout from the battle of Metropolis, Lex discovers an AI and thinks he can use it against Superman only, surprise, it’s Brainiac. Maybe we rehash a bit of the Zod story or we go with Braniac absorbing all the knowledge on earth before trying to destroy it. In any case, this should be the point at which Superman embraces Jor-El’s dream of him being a beacon of hope to humanity. Also I would do a post credit scene for both Batman and Wonder Woman.
#3 Do a fight movie but pick a hero to focus on.
I for one would have rather seen a Dark Knight Returns and then have a confrontation between the two in that film, in a way that ACTUALLY reflects their differing world views. Also…
#4 No Kryptonite
At least not out the gate. To me it’s lazy. I mean, I get that it’s iconic but can we hold off on it? And if you’re wondering how would someone like Batman or Lex level the playing field without it just look at MOS. Zod’s ship had kryptonian atmosphere on board which weakend Superman, this could be used in the same way Batman used red solar lamps in the else-world story “Red Son”. Just saying.
#5 Wonder Woman & World’s Finest
Considering the success of the Wonder Woman film I doubt I would touch that, I think the idea of a period piece is great. But now we get Batman and Superman together dealing with a common foe, say Lex and Joker or Riddler, and now we lay the ground for Darkseid in here.
#6 If you are not going to give each character their own stand alone, write them so we will care about them by the end of the film. Since Justice League isn’t out yet I can’t say for certain how botched this movie is going to be, but if their previous team up works are any indication, it won’t be good. Look, you don’t HAVE to follow the Marvel formula, but you do need good characters with compelling stories and arcs. Marvel did this beautifully with Gaurdians of the Galaxy so don’t tell me it can’t be done.
#7 Make the threat make sense.
I’m looking at you Suicide Squad. Honestly I was pumped for this film, and there are parts I still like about it. I loved Joker and Harley Quinn and, frankly, I like Diablo more than I thought I would. But why are THEY being tasked with fighting Enchantress? That’s a fight for Justice League Dark, not Suicide Squad. The protagonist needs to make sense otherwise I don’t find the reasonings believable.
I have other ideas but these are just a few to start with. Frankly I would just walk down the hall to DC animation and pick their brains over this stuff. They’ve had pretty good success both in movies and shows with these characters that it would worth the meeting.