The DCEU 2013-2023?

It was not supposed to be like this. For decades, DC Comics’ characters ruled the box office and airwaves, especially with Batman, thanks to the backing of their parent company Warner Bros. That all changed starting in 2008 when Marvel Studios successfully launched their interconnected series of films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), which soon overtook DC and Warner Bros. in terms of critical and fan reception and economic success. Warner Bros. did put up a fight and launched their own version of interconnected films, the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), with the release of Man of Steel in 2013.

That film, featuring a new, updated version of Superman, had mixed reactions. Some applauded the grounded, grittier take of Superman, while others complained about the dark tone of the film and its over-stylized look thanks to director Zack Snyder. Still, thanks in part to Henry Cavill’s performance as Superman/Clark Kent, the film was the sound basis for an interconnected film universe featuring DC characters, which continued with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016. At last, Warner Bros. had a true counterpart to the DCEU because the second DCEU film greatly expanded its cinematic world as it not only introduced the DCEU version of Batman, but Wonder Woman, and other members of the Justice League superhero team.

But as we all know, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had a negative reaction thanks to its uneven and convoluted storyline and the DCEU never quite recovered with its sophmore film. The DCEU had an uneven track record with its filmography. For every critical and commercial success like Wonder Woman and Aquaman there were failures like Justice League and the Suicide Squad films. The film universe was inconsistent with its tone and output, meanwhile, the MCU churned out hit after hit without any legitimate competition.

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What made matters worse for the DCEU was the fact that Warner Bros. seemed to give up on the DCEU by delaying long-announced films, including a solo followup to Man of Steel. This last issue drove Cavill away from the role as the film studio made announcements about new versions of Superman, which never materialized. Instead of focusing on the DCEU, Warner Bros. turned its attention to projects outside of the DCEU like Joker and The Batman, as well as TV shows that were not connected to the DCEU.

Many of these projects were successful, but they did not do anything for the DCEU. Fans asked for DCEU films featuring Superman and the other DC heavy hitters, but instead Warner Bros. greenlit films featuring lesser known characters like Black Adam, Blue Beetle and the Wonder Twins.

Then there were issues with the pandemic, which delayed film productions and forced Warner Bros. to debut films like Wonder Woman 1984 on their streaming platform, HBO Max. In fact, the parent company of the film studio, AT&T decided to forego or deemphasize film releases in favor of premiering films on HBO Max. This led to diminished financial returns for DCEU properties like The Suicide Squad.

Another sign that implied that the film studio had given up on the DCEU were rumors that the long-delayed DCEU film, The Flash, would be used to reboot the DCEU with new actors. Evidence for this lies with the fact that Michael Keaton is reprising his role as Batman in The Flash. Meanwhile the DCEU version of Batman, played by Ben Affleck and Superman, would be wiped out of existence thanks to the Flash and time travel hijinks. But that was nothing compared to the big changes instituted by new owners.

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The Passing Of A Star Trek Legend: Nichelle Nichols, 1932- 2022

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It’s with a heavy heart that it must be reported that another Star Trek legend is no longer with us. Nichelle Nichols, who pioneered the groundbreaking role of Lt. Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek passed away at the age of 89.

Nichols had suffered earlier a “mild stroke” in 2015, had health issues related to her advanced age, and according to her son Kyle Johnson, she died due to natural causes. These recent years mark a somber occasion for Star Trek fans since she is the fifth member of the original series to pass away, joining Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, and Grace Lee Whitney.

One of the most distinguishing aspects of the original series back in the revolutionary 1960s was the presence of a Black woman on a starship bridge and the fact that Lt. Uhura was a senior officer. Although her role was limited in a supporting capacity, Nichols was able to inflect competence, elegance and a quiet nobility that resonated with fans of all colors and persuasions. Many instantly recognized how groundbreaking her role since she had a prominent presence on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise. One of the original viewers turned out to be Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who met Nichols at one point and encouraged her to remain with the show because she expressed her frustrations with her role and was contemplating leaving Star Trek.

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It turned out to be fortunate that she remained because as years passed her status among fans and critics grew and grew. Not only that but by staying with Star Trek through its short three seasons she cemented her place in television history by partaking in the first interracial kiss to air on TV. That episode as we all know was “Plato’s Stepchildren” where she shared a passionate season with her co-star William Shatner. Even though in that scene she admitted to being attracted to Captain Kirk, in real life she, as well as other castmembers, didn’t think highly of Shatner. But they were able to resolve their issues in later life.

Her work in Star Trek didn’t end with the cancellation of the series. She provided voice work in the animated Star Trek: The Animated Series and reprised her role of Uhura in the first six Star Trek films. Even though the amount of screen time was limited in those endeavors, she had a strong presence with some memorable moments, the best one being her scene in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock where she has to contend with a conceited young officer who thinks her time has passed.

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More importantly, her contribution to Star Trek led to her being involved with NASA in a special project to help recruit minorities and women. Notable results of that project were the recruiting Dr. Sally Ride and Guion Bluford, the first American female astronaut and the first African-American astronaut, respectively. On Sept. 17, 2015, she flew on a NASA mission via a modified jet to accompany the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy) telescope.

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Nichols also appeared in other TV shows and films like Heroes, Snow Dogs, Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, Futurama and Are We There Yet?

Regardless of the amount of screen time she had when playing Lt. Uhura saying her famous line “Hailing frequencies open”, her contribution as a Star Trek legend to Star Trek and society is something that will resonate through the ages and the stars.