This is indeed a phenomenal time to be a DC fan. Heck, it’s just a great time to be a comic book fan. Unfortunately, last year didn’t allow us to experience comic book movies in the theaters, but there was some compensation. You like staying at home, get cozy with some streaming services. If you’re a DC nut like me, you might have subscribed to HBO Max for Wonder Woman 1984. You also might have been slightly disappointed, but don’t fret, for there is more to come. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year and a half, you’re probably gearing up for the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League.
I’m very stoked for this new version of the Justice League movie, and I’m happy that Zack Snyder finally got his chance to show his true vision. In fact, he just recently talked about his vision for the DC Cinematic Universe and how he wanted it to be different from Marvel. Speaking with The New York Times, Zack Snyder explained in great detail as to why he wanted his DCEU to be different from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
His reasons were simple: for one, he believed that what the MCU is doing works. He is correct, given that the MCU has spawned many successful movies and made truck loads of money. However, his analysis of the MCU explains why many comic book movie fans were indifferent to his DCEU movies. Why do we watch the MCU movies? Well, for me, I’m a massive comic book nerd, so I’ll watch anything that flexes those characters. However, I know some people who don’t read the comics, but like the movies.
What I’ve noticed about these fans is that they have grown to appreciate the style the MCU movies have mastered. Their movies are family-friendly action comedies with a lot of heart. This works for most fans, but others don’t dig it too much. That’s fine, but the MCU has managed to accumulate a large fanbase over the years by sticking to this formula. It’s when they decide to get a little darker that makes fans really interested. Have you guys seen Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame? If not, then seriously, shame on you. Get on those movies and you’ll discover that Marvel knows how to be dark when they want to be.
Here’s the thing about what the MCU does: if it works, then don’t mess with it. However, with the case of the DC Cinematic Universe, it’s clear that there was a different plan in mind. When Zack Snyder launched the DCEU with the very underrated Man of Steel, fans certainly felt the difference between his universe and the MCU. Almost instantly, it became clear that DC wouldn’t be as lighthearted and as fun as the Marvel movies. And once we were introduced to more heroes in the DCEU, it became even more clear that we were looking at different heroes. These guys weren’t cracking jokes all the time, they weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, and they smiled a lot less.
Now to be fair, the MCU was here first. I get why the average comic book movie fan would be more accustomed to the MCU formula. Was Zack Snyder right to deviate from the MCU formula? I feel like some would disagree, but I think he had the right idea. Let’s take a look at what happened when the DCEU decided to be more “jokey” like the MCU movies. The Suicide Squad reshoots happened to apparently make the film feel more “fun” and less dark and gritty. Yeah, we all remember how that tale ended. There were some laughs, but the fun tone of Suicide Squad didn’t do much to help the film’s quality.
And then, Joss Whedon came in to finish Justice League after Zack Snyder departed, and he added his MCU-like humor to it. Again, we all remember how that tale ended. It didn’t work for a lot of fans. Suddenly, Snyder’s dark vision seemed to be missed. But that’s exactly what turned people off in the beginning, right? It seems like a no-win situation, but the real issue was the lack of good writing and character development. That’s where Suicide Squad and Batman vs. Superman faltered. The darkness and lightness of the tone of those movies were ultimately irrelevant. We just wanted good storytelling.
Now with that in mind, Zack Snyder was heavily criticized for having a dark vision for the DCEU. Now I’m a fan of Snyder’s, but I get where the criticism comes from. For example, Superman killing Zod in the end of Man of Steel made a lot of people angry. Plus, he doesn’t smile very often. Understandably so, some fans didn’t dig this, not to mention the fact that his Batman was shooting criminals in BvS. However, Snyder never apologized for this, and explained why he wanted a more darker universe than the MCU.
Again, Snyder acknowledged that the fun and friendly tone of the MCU works for them. However, I believe that doesn’t completely mesh with the DC universe. Firstly, Snyder didn’t want to copy the way Marvel was doing their universe. This also meant setting up his superhero team differently. I know fans who disliked how each Justice League member didn’t get their own solo movie before the actual Justice League movie. I mean, it worked for Marvel, so why not do the same for DC? Well, I say why not let Zack Snyder try the different route?
We only saw Superman and Wonder Woman get their origins story told out of the six members. That’s really all we need, because we honestly don’t need to see everyone’s origins story. Heck, the MCU even proved that with Spider-Man and Black Panther. Now that Snyder has established these characters, he’s allowed their solo movies to expand their development further without being hindered by the need to show their origins. That’s why the Flash movie can work, because it will likely dive into his connection to the Speed Force above his origins. It was the same with Aquaman. We didn’t see how he became Aquaman, because he was already Aquaman. The movie was about his journey of accepting who he is and living up to the title of king.
These are some of the advantages that the DCEU has benefited from Zack Snyder’s vision. Is it darker? Yes, but if you read DC comics, you’ll know it thrives with darkness. The trick is making it interesting with the characters of DC. Zack Snyder has done that so far and with the Snyder cut, we’ll get to see how that fully plays out. It won’t be long now.