Will Marvel v. DC Ever End? The Latest on Who is Leaving the DCEU…
I wasn’t expecting anything significant to happen from now until the drop of Zack Snyder’s Justice League (on HBO Max starting March. 18), but of course it wouldn’t be Warner Bros. and the DCEU without some midday crises. It has just been reported via multiple sources that J.J. Abrams and Ta-Nehisi Coates are now slated to produce/write an upcoming Superman film… one that is completely separate from the current DCEU version (aka, Henry Cavill). As Abrams told Shadow & Act, “There is a new, powerful and moving Superman story yet to be told. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with the brilliant Mr. Coates to help bring that story to the big screen, and we’re beyond thankful to the team at Warner Bros. for the opportunity,” (Mangum, Exclusive: Ta-Nehisi Coates To Write Upcoming Superman Film From DC And Warner Bros. — SHADOW & ACT (shadowandact.com)). At this point, it’s all but confirmed Cavill will not be returning as Kal-El — however, the good news is that we will probably be seeing our first black Superman (which would be pretty damn exciting and a long time coming). Supposedly, and I am not sure how to back this up other than with claims I’ve heard from online insiders, Cavill has had a history of being a “problem” behind the scenes on particularly Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice back in 2016.
I want to say firstly that this COULD very well be the best news for DC films. It has been a long journey, and with the recent downturn of Wonder Woman 1984, the franchise desperately needs some major change. I love Cavill as Superman, so I will be disappointed to see him go. Which is what leads to me to my main point… Warner Bros., get it together. Now, we have had our TWO leading men from the DCEU bail on any solo projects (Ben Affleck being the other), and this studio is just dripping with controversy on the daily (Ray Fischer, anyone?). It is beyond me how things like this keep happening. Back when Marvel v. DC was really in its heyday, I thought the public made it pretty clear how they felt about keeping the two entities separate. Part of what makes Marvel great (though not infallible) is how they’ve managed to create and maintain their own format for superhero content. The reason why Infinity War and Endgame felt so climactic was because we as audience knew what the experience would feel like, but not what was in store (if that makes any sense). For example, going into Infinity War, we knew how these characters were developed and how they would play off of each other during a galactic crisis. We didn’t, as an audience, know how painful it would be to *SPOILER* lose so many of our favorite heroes in the process. Plus, we had established specific character traits and motivations throughout the years. DC, and I say this as a broken record, had none of that… ever. Man of Steel attempted to blend reality with comic book sci-fi, and that ended up as a depressing mess. Batman v. Superman was… what it was, and then of course we got the original Justice League, which proudly threw away all creative liberties and decided it wanted to dress up as a Marvel film for Halloween. You could argue Wonder Woman and Shazam! provided more insight and understanding of their titular characters, but that only went so far.
DC has plenty of great characters even in their film universe. Gal Gadot, though somewhat stiff, is a great Diana Prince and has swiftly taken younger female audiences by storm. Jason Momoa and Zachary Levi are fantastically charming, and who could forget Margot Robbie as (arguably) the best figure the franchise has to date? This move to completely redo Superman has me confused. I don’t think Cavill was done yet, and I know plenty of other fans feel the same way. I mean, at least Ben Affleck only did one major film and stepped away from the limelight — Cavill tried hard to make himself known as Clark Kent, and what a great title to have! Even if he had problems off-screen, to me there could have been better ways to mend the character. I guess the same could be said for Matt Reeves and The Batman, but at least that has vision to it. I think the problem now is that DC and Warner Bros. are trying so hard to recalibrate their image that they are losing sight of what was originally the problem — focus. Their ideas have no cohesion. It still shocks me that Patty Jenkins messed up Wonder Woman 1984 with such a stellar start in 2017. DC tried to claim their problem was the lack of humor (vs. what people loved in Marvel films), but to me it was always the fact that (a) no one knew the characters they were writing about and (b) no one cared to know those characters either. That’s why these films felt so tonally wrong; their characters were messed up from the start.
That’s not to say DC and WB don’t have a future from here. In fact, as I said, this Superman move could be the start of something great. I sit here waiting for Gunn’s The Suicide Squad to release, because if that does as well as I hope it does, Warner Bros. better pack their shit and continue on that trajectory. It’s easier said than done, but pick a lane. Stop trying to do every trope at once — it doesn’t work. If anything, it makes these films and their plots unattractive and unrelatable.
Here’s what I want following this year: The Suicide Squad still has incredible promise, and I am hoping Zack Snyder’s Justice League leads to future follow-ups/continuations. Following The Batman in 2022, Flash (referred to but not related as Flashpoint) will come in and hopefully amaze audiences and fans with their unique take on the multiverse. Then, that opens up possibilities for a SET number of timelines. Yes, there can be infinite universes, but for the sake of the film/TV world, stick to three or four. That means you can have different brand names within each one, and each timeline can have their own distinct set of characteristics, plots, and relationships. I would love to see development on side projects, like a Gotham City Sirens or even a Legion of Doom/Unjustice League timeline. That was, DC can explore their options, have diverse casts, and build up their fanbase again. Wherever Coates’ and Abrams’ Superman fits in, that could lead to its own set of possibilities. I have plenty of ideas but don’t want to bore anyone, so for now I think as long as these confirmed projects can do well creatively and critically, DC and Warner Bros. has a swinging chance. Now, will it be Marvel? No. WandaVision itself blows basically every DCEU film out of the water, no doubt. The point, though, is that DC needs to distance itself from past attempts and make their own path. It’s 2021.
Let me know what y’all think. Today’s story has me excited yet perplexed, and I would love to know how other people are gauging this. Hopefully, Abrams can shake off his failure that is Star Wars and create some magic with Coates.