DC Comics: Live Action, Dead in The Water

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The Cost of a Cut

The premiere of Zack Snyder’s Justice League now has the hashtag “RestoreTheSnyderverse” trending. Raising questions like; should a “Snyderverse” still be greenlit? Are sequels within the original director’s vision still worth making? Or should the live action DC Universe simply be rebooted altogether? Even prior to the tragedy that contributed to Snyder’s step down as director, there seemed to be issues in production including creative differences. Personally, I think it should all be rebooted from the ground up. After Man of Steel, an argument could be made for a steady decline in the quality of DC’s superhero films. Most of the subsequent films feel convoluted, rushed and out of place within the same universe that’s trying to be established. Waiting for the next piece of this ill-fitting movie puzzle seems to come with it’s own share of disappointments, and this time, it’s the Snyder cut. Not because it’s a “bad movie”, not at all, but because it’s hard to not see it as a Hollywood style do-over.

While the 4 hour redo is highly entertaining, it’s odd that there are 2 different versions of the same flick. According to his interview with Vanity Fair, Zack states that when he originally proposed the idea of having the film be as long as it is, the WB Chairman and CEO at the time, Kevin Tsujihara, mandated that the film be 2 hours. Fast forward to March 18th, and we ended up getting the 4 hour film anyway. Whether that’s because Tsujihara left WB amid sexual misconduct allegations, allowing his successor to make moves in a new direction or not, it still seems a bit desperate. Despite all the budget issues, rewrites and “artistic vision” differences they ended up letting him make the film anyway. During the production of the original, the studio heads made it abundantly clear that they wanted the film to make a clean 1 billion in the box office. Since the Joss Whedon variant didn’t make that, this feels like an obvious attempt at a cash grab to recoup losses from 2017. In the same VF interview (linked above) an anonymous studio executive stated “When we got to see what Joss actually did, it was stupefying.” The same nameless exec went on to say “It was so awkward because nobody wanted to admit what a piece of shit it was” in reference to how others felt after the Joss Whedon screening. Clearly, even the people producing the film hated the 2 hour cut that they asked for, yet they didn’t want to give Zack what he needed to make his long a** movie.

After unfortunate, personal circumstances was thrust in to the director’s chair and tasked with completing Justice League

Now, we all understand what a “Director’s Cut” is. They’re always the same film, just made to be aligned with the Directors original vision. This however, takes it to an entirely different level. New characters are introduced that were not at all present in the original cut, new plot lines added and even new setups for future films. Yet WB has denied and debunked rumors that they would allow Zack to return to complete the so-called “Syderverse” and suddenly I’m having some Déjà vu. If they say they won’t allow any other Zack flicks for DC, they should stick to it and save everyone the disappointment without back pedaling at the last minute when money is wanted. Having 2 different directors create different but similar versions of the same movie leads to confusion for the general audience, the same audience that all these big boy studio’s try so hard to appeal to. 

Pages to Frames

If there’s one thing the studios understand, it’s that most comic book content doesn’t always translate well to live action films. Which is where DC’s other films get to shine – their animated films. Seems easier to digest fiction when everything being shown is complete fantasy. It’s harder to call something that’s drawn and animated outlandish or wacky when everyone can say “eh it’s a cartoon”. Most directors of superhero films seem to always want to ground their stories and characters in “reality”. Often presenting restrictions that don’t always hold true to their comic book counterparts, according to the fans. Seeing Batman leap 10 feet without gadgets over an opponent is much easier to accept when he’s 2D than it would be to see Ben Affleck pull off the same feat during his time as The Bat. That being said, I’d love to see a live action rendition that copies a comic, panel-for-panel, but I also accept that the casual movie-goer may not understand the powers or abilities of certain characters once the shackles of “reality” are lifted.

At this point, it’s hard to not have sequel or franchise burnout. For the time being, I’d much rather have DC stick to a formula that has worked for both their animated and live action films. Which is – make solo movies that tell an individual story, without having ties to a grand, connected universe. Everything from Todd Phillips’ Joker did a fine job of this to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Both told an individual story that was not directly connected to the universe it occupied. In fact, DC didn’t begin connecting their animated films until their New 52 launch in 2011. After that, the titular studio began crafting animated tales that aligned with that “new” universe. For those with some free time, and I know you have plenty if you watched the Snyder cut so don’t lie. The release dates of the animated flicks don’t always determine the actual chronological watch order, so don’t let that confuse you. Have fun combing through the animated films in chronological viewing order.

New 52 Animated Watch Order:

  1. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)
  2. Justice League: War (2014)
  3. Son of Batman (2014)
  4. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015)
  5. Batman vs. Robin (2015)
  6. Batman: Bad Blood (2016)
  7. Justice League vs. Teen Titans (2016)
  8. Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay (2018)
  9. Justice League: Dark (2017)
  10. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017)
  11. The Death of Superman (2018)
  12. Reign of the Supermen (2019)
  13. Constantine: City of Demons – The Movie (2018)
  14. Batman Hush (2019)

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1 comments on “DC Comics: Live Action, Dead in The Water”

  1. I think it’s especially jarring for the casual fans who aren’t plugged in to the rapidly beating pulse of the pop culture news cycle, the average Joe who knows little about comics and even less about movie studio politics, just wants to see a story they can enjoy and battles that are visually interesting. I’m sure that specific type of Joe was very confused to see another longer version of a movie that came out almost 4 years ago, and it now being 4 hours might’ve driven them away. I agree that DC/WB need to just really get their writer/director dream team together and hand them the biggest white board they can find and let them either plan out a long form story with stand alones sprinkled throughout or several stand alones that tackle specific themes relating to the titular character themselves. JUST PICK A LANE!

    And in regards to those Director/Writers, it’d be great to see them maybe mimic Marvel and had the reigns to lesser known creatives with only 1 or 2 movies under their belt but with clear talent.
    Lol, we shall see what the future holds.

    Liked by 1 person

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