You Know, With Music!
What the Hell is Going On in the DCEU?
It feels like every couple of months I have to report on some new development with the DC Extended UniverseStarted as DC Comics' answer to the MCU, the early films in the franchise stumbled out of the gates, often mired in grim-dark storytelling and the rushed need to get this franchise started. Eventually, though, the films began to even out, becoming better as they went along. Still, this franchise has a long way to go before it's true completion for Marvel's universe. and that's because every few weeks some new, strange tidbit leaks out. From month to month it's hard to predict just what shape DC's movie ambitions will take, clearly because they don't even know. There is absolutely no plan over at Discovery/WB and DC ComicsOne of the two biggest comic publishing companies in the world (and, depending on what big events are going on, the number one company), DC Comics is the home of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and just about every big superhero introduced in the 1930s and 1940s., not like there is with Kevin Feige and the Marvel Cinematic UniverseWhen it first began in 2008 with a little film called Iron Man no one suspected the empire that would follow. Superhero movies in the past, especially those not featuring either Batman or Superman, were usually terrible. And yet, Iron Man would lead to a long series of successful films, launching the most successful cinema brand in history: the Marvel Cinematic Universe., and everything that comes out clearly supports that.
This last week saw the release of the Black Adam trailer. Now, we've all seen DC's trailers before and while some of their movies have been great (Wonder Woman was pretty solid, Shazam! was great fun), but plenty of great trailers have lead to absolutely awful movies (looking at you, Wonder Woman 1984). That being said, the new trailer does look pretty awesome and could lead to a decent film. Maybe. Certainly New Line did great work with Shazam! and since this character is part of that group one could hope it'll follow in its predecessor's footsteps.
That was the good news which showed DC was pursuing something like a reasonable plan for it's superheros. Everything else to come out, though, feels far removed, though. First, we have to discuss the fact that DC now wants Henry Cavill to come back to play SupermanThe first big superhero from DC Comics, Superman has survived any number of pretenders to the throne, besting not only other comic titans but even Wolrd War II to remain one of only three comics to continue publishing since the 1940s.. This seems a little odd on its own because the DC higher ups had said they wanted to get away from his Superman and Ben Affleck's BatmanOne of the longest running, consistently in-print superheroes ever (matched only by Superman and Wonder Woman), Batman has been a force in entertainment for nearly as long as there's been an entertainment industry. It only makes sense, then that he is also the most regularly adapted, and consistently successful, superhero to grace the Silver Screen. and let the next generation of heroes, after the upcoming Flashpoint, define the films going forward. Oh, and also they want Ben Affleck back, too.
Don't get me wrong, I liked Cavill's Supes and Affleck's Bats; it wasn't their performances that were the issues but the awful writing of the movies they were in. If DC wanted to continue their Snyderverse (sans Zack Snyder), picking up after the good version of Justice League, I would actually support this. It's not them coming back that seems wrong, just the fact that we keep getting conflicting reports out of DC about what to expect next.
What makes matters worse in this instance is that other Superman projects that were in the works, like a Michael B. Jordan produces show focusing on Von-El, have apparently be scrapped (or at least very back-burnered) to make way for a Man of Steel sequel. We can have both, but instead DC apparently thinks we can't handle a White Superman and then a Black Superman in a different universe, and that's a waste of great talent attached to this project as well as a great character.
The same thing apparently isn't happening with the various Batman projects. Whatever happens with Ben Affleck's Bat-fleck won't affect the proposed The Batman sequel. Apparently we're smart enough to handle multiple Batmen, but multiple Supermen is just too much? That's silly, DC. Put some of them on HBOThe oldest and longer-running cable subscription service, HBO provides entertainment in the force of licensed movies along with a huge slate of original programming, giving it the luster of the premiere cable service. and let your poor, battered expanded universe grow organically for once. Stop making dumb moves to try and force it
Meanwhile, on the subject of the expanded Batman universe, we had an announcement that the next Joker movie will be titled: Joker: Folie a Deux. This had the Internet commentariat exploding because they think it means we'll have JokerOne of Batman's first villains, and certainly his more famous (and most popular), the Joker is the mirror of the Bat, all the insanity and darkness unleashed that the hero keeps bottled up and controlled. training Harley QuinnCreated to serve as "Joker's Girlfriend" as well as his primary minion for Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn quickly grew to be one of the most popular characters of that show, eventually finding a solid life beyond the cartoon in comics, movies, and media. (apparently the term Folie A Deux means "a mental disorder that affects two or more individuals"). It's either Harley Quinn or implying the Joker is training the next (aka "real" Joker).
As if that wasn't enough, cast news has come out reporting that Lady Gaga is in talks for an unspecified role in the film (which, again, seems to back up reports of Harley being the focus of this film). And, even more interesting (or wild, or whatever you want to call it), the film will be a musical. Now, I am on the record hating (absolutely loathing) the 2019 Joker, bu I have to say a bug-nuts crazy Joker musical with Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn is a film I actually would watch. I don't care how bad the first one is, I absolutely have to see what kind of train wreck will happen here.
At the same time, though, just what the ever loving hell is going on over at DC? You follow up the dark and depressing Joker with a musical? I'm not saying the film can't be dark and depressing, too; maybe it'll be a darker take on the Chicago concept, with all the musical moments happening in their heads. However it happens, though, this feels like a wild tonal shift from the first movie. It's sound awful, but in a way that's completely different from how the first movie was awful. In short, it feels like an out of nowhere change made for reasons no one can fathom. Why, DC?
All we have to go on are reports that the higher-ups want to make major changes to the whole DCEU, to try and unify it under one vision and have all the various elements already created working together. I don't know how you do that with the old DCEU already existing, musical Jokers, multiple Batmen, and everything else. There is a way to get a single vision for DC's movie universe: just give it all over the James Gunn and let him continue his vision from The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker. It's violent, yes, and weirdly, comedically dark, but it has a unified vision that really works.
Focus, DC, and stop throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks. This is just insane.