Do you remember where you were the day Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was announced? I do. I was sitting at home, eating Cheetos on the couch when I heard the news. Growing up a massive DC Comics fan, this was the moment I had been waiting for. Just when I thought I couldn’t be any more excited, set photos and costume designs start popping up on the internet, a few months later, and the hate around Ben Affleck starts to fade a bit (for the record I was always 100% down with the casting. Ever seen The Town/Argo/Gone Girl?). A few months after that, the teaser trailer drops and by all that is holy the film looked to be a true comic book masterpiece and faithful adaptation of Frank Miller’s 1986 classic “The Dark Knight Returns”. Then the full trailers start dropping with MASSIVE spoilers, in what seems to be Warner Bros. trolling us at Gerald Broflovski proportions. The embargo is finally lifted a few days before release and the reviews are littered with phrases like, “Muddled plot”, “Incoherent mess” and “Let-down”. Even though my excitement had waned by this point, I still needed to see it for myself. I walked away from the film with very few positive things to say, a litany of horrible things and my almost non-existent hope for the DC Extended Universe.
Then Suicide Squad was announced. Cue the hype-train and high hopes! I was immediately on board with casting, especially Jared Leto as The Joker (hot off the heels of Dallas Buyer’s Club), Margot Robbie seemed born to play Harley Quinn, and Will Smith as Deadshot? Uh. Yes, please. The set and costume photos are then dropped. Even though Jared Leto’s Joker looked like Russ Hanneman just realized he’s been a Juggalo this whole time, I still maintained hope that the creative liberties taken would be best for the film. A few months later the review embargo is lifted and I begin reliving Batman v. Superman’s home-stretch leading up to the release date. Phrases like, “Lost plot”, “Just plain bad” and “Boring sadness” permeated the internet. This time I decided not to waste my hard-earned money on it, a decision I’m glad I made in retrospect. Months go by and my dad picks it up and asks if I want to come over and check it out, since he’s already seen it and loved it. I sat there staring at the screen for what felt like weeks as the film mindlessly dragged its incoherent, bloated message of friendship, or whatever the hell it was trying to convey. My hope for the DCEU had taken another massive blow.
Wonder Woman is announced, and guess what? My excitement has been shot right back up (I never learn). One of the only positive experiences I had with Batman v. Superman was Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Set photos had me even more stoked as Themyscira looked to be breathtaking. After that, I pull myself away from any more possible information about the films, including trailers. But here’s the thing about great films, you can’t escape the praise when it’s overwhelming. Everywhere I looked I saw phrases like, “Actual likeable characters”, “A great accomplishment” and “The first good DCEU movie”. The film ended up living up to all those phrases and more. My qualms were small and my praise was big. There were very few elements tying it to the extended universe Warner Bros. has been trying to create, and that was a breath of fresh air. There were no elements that felt jammed in for the sake of reminding the audience that “this is part of a larger story!”. Watching a DCEU film was finally an enjoyable experience for me.
Given the current track record I’m erring on the side of cautious optimism for the Justice League film. My experience having my hope shattered and sustained have ultimately taught me to utilize the duality of the situation and balance out my anticipation. As long as Warner Bros. and team continue the path of making a great movie that doesn’t need to beat the audience to death with reminders that “this is just one part! There are so many more coming!”, the DCEU could have a real shot at being remembered upon fondly after its completion. Playing catchup is a stupid man’s game, Warner Bros. Your focus should be kept on making compelling stories that stand on their own against the sands of time.
Seriously- get your shit together.
By Justyn Gomez