Reaction To The New DCU Announcement

To be frank, it was best to wait a few days after the announcement from DC Studios’ head James Gunn about their new slate of DC Universe (DCU) films and TV shows. The immediate reaction for these types of announcements often run wildly until the news is fully digested. What was interesting about Gunn’s announcement was not the rage from fans of the ending DC Extended Universe (DCEU), but the large collective shrug from most.

There are many reasons for the various reactions, but the pervailing muted response has to do with the content of the upcoming DCU films and TV shows and that fans have been burned before with the intial announcement of the DCEU. When the first batch of DCEU films were announced last decade there was a lot to get fans super excited, especially with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Now we know how all that turned out. Some of the films were never made (with The Flash finally premiering later this year), while some released films failed to deliver. Then there is the fact that some of the more well-received aspects of the DCEU, namely actors like Henry Cavill and Gal Godot, will not be a part of the DCU. So, naturally the skepticism and outrage was expected.

But let’s face the truth: the DCEU was a failure. Blame the executives at Warner Bros.. Blame the producers, writers, directors and actors. Blame the unrealistic expectations and toxic fans. But the fact remains that there were too many missed opportunities and that Warner Bros. was too reactionary. Instead of trying to fix what was wrong with the DCEU, the film studios had a scattershot approach to their DC properties. They ignored what worked with the DCEU and doubled down on films and TV shows that featured DC characters, but were not connected to the DCEU. What made things worse for the cinematic universe was that non-DCEU films like Joker and The Batman were huge successes. More and more DC films and TV shows were greenlit that were not part of the DCEU, while the DCEU itself was left behind.

This was a mistake. Warner Bros. have the characters in a shared superhero universe that should have rivaled Marvel Studios and their properties. While this may please Marvel fans, the fact is that Marvel Studios needs healthy competition to keep them on their toes, and we were seeing the effect, as their recent films and TV shows were not as well received as earlier releases.

What could have been done to salvage the DCEU? Nothing, at this point. James Gunn took the right approach by starting over. But there should have been a complete reboot. Instead we are getting a TV show about Amanda Waller starring Viola Davis, who was prominent in the DCEU. Then there are reports that other actors from the DCEU like Ezra Miller will be a part of the DCU. Why keep Davis and Miller but not Cavill and Gadot? The latter two actors were very popular and turned in iconic performances as Superman and Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, while they were great in their roles they are too identified with the DCEU and nervous executives probably feared that keeping them in a new cinematic universe would be too confusing for the average moviegoer. Whatever.

On the other hand, to dismiss the DCU without seeing the final product is foolish. James Gunn is a very talented filmmaker who took the obscure Marvel Comics property Guardians of the Galaxy and made them beloved superstars. He also did this to a lesser effect with DC characters in his film The Suicide Squad and TV show Peacemaker.

Do some of the announced films and TV shows sound uninspiring? Sure. Who is clamoring for Waller or The Authority or Paradise Lost (sorry this last announced project seems too much like Game of Thrones)? Who the hell can replace Henry Cavill? Anyone trying to answer this should remember how many fans were attached to Christopher Reeve as Superman or bemoaned about how Brandon Routh was short changed. Who knows, maybe Cavill and Gadot will return at some point. It happened to Routh when he had the opportunity to reprise Superman in the Arrowverse version of Crisis on Infinite Earths. That is one crossover event that is begging to be redone properly by Gunn and his people.

It stinks that we have to wait until 2025 to see the first DCU entry Superman: Legacy, but until then we should be patient and see what happens. We should also be rooting for the DCU to succeed because if it falters like the DCEU then it will be a long time before such effort is made to create a live-action cinematic universe based on the beloved DC characters.

The DCEU: How It Should Have Launched

Whether we’re excited for what James Gunn and Peter Safran have planned for their relaunched films based on DC Comics properties or lamenting the demise of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), it is clear by now that the DCEU has lost its way.

There are many reasons why the DCEU ultimately faltered and a common factor that many point to has to do with the schedule of its early films and who they were centered on. Many fans have griped that there never was a proper sequel to Man of Steel or that Batman never had a solo film, while other announced films have yet to materialize.

So, could the DCEU have succeeded early on? It is possible and there are many avenues the films could have taken. Some have suggested that the DCEU films should have taken a gradual approach in introducing the heroes before releasing Justice League in the same way Marvel Studios led up to the release of The Avengers. There were many reasons why Warner Bros. did not take this approach with their reps publicly stating they did not want to copy the formula used by Marvel Studios. But if they did try to emulate the formula, how would the DCEU have turned out? Let’s look further.

The first film of the DCEU, Man of Steel, is released in 2013 as it happened in real life. Except, this time the film would have more Easter eggs to a greater DCEU instead of a quick glimpse of a satellite belonging to Bruce Wayne. The film would have a post-credits scene which would show a news montage about the Kryptonian invasion of Earth and the revelation of Superman. As the talking heads would debate about an alien being walking among us, the images would pull back to show they are coming from a TV screen or monitor and we would see that this scene is taking place in the Batcave or in S.T.A.R. Labs.

2015

Instead of waiting until 2016 to release the next DCEU film, Warner Bros. would release two films in 2015. A proper sequel to Man of Steel called Man of Tomorrow, which would be a solo Superman film, and a solo Batman film called The Caped Crusader.

Man of Tomorrow would have been very similar to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice except that Lex Luthor would have been recast and Batman/Bruce Wayne would only make brief appearances. He never would have fought or even met Superman. That opening in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice where Bruce Wayne personally witnesses the destruction in Metropolis from Superman’s fight with the Kryptonians would swap out Wayne with Luthor. This gives Luthor more of a reason to hate Superman because he saw firsthand the danger of this superpowered alien. The rest of the film would have explored the ramifications of Superman’s presence in the world with Luthor trying to discredit him. The film could have had references to other DC heroes who at this time are operating in the shadows or have not become superheroes yet.

Like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Man of Tomorrow would have concluded with Superman confronting by himself a genetic monstrosity that Luthor created but instead of Doomsday it would have been an evil Superman clone, who we would know was a malevolent version of Bizarro. The film would include two post-credits scenes. One would show that Luthor had created another genetic opponent for Superman that was locked up. This creature would have been revealed to be Doomsday. The other scene would take place in another world and reveal that the recent superhuman activities have caught the attention of Darkseid.

The Caped Crusader film would be a proper solo film for Batman and it would have shown Batman to be coming out of semi-retirement. It also would have shown that Batman is largely considered to be an urban myth but by the end of the film, Batman would be revealed to be an actual person who fights crime. The Joker would not appear in the film or even be hinted at. Instead the villain would be Deathstroke as The Caped Crusader would have been based on Ben Affleck’s script for the scrapped Batman solo film where Deathstroke blamed Batman for the death of his son and tried to get revenge on Batman. As with Man of Tomorrow, the Batman film would have had references to the greater DCEU and possibly featured Superman in a cameo, probably as part of a newscast. It possibly could have introduced Diana Prince as a mysterious and potential love interest for Wayne. The film also would have post-credits scenes that set up a sequel and have Prince revealed to be Wonder Woman.

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Top Ten Films & TV Shows Of 2022

2022 is done and it is time to briefly look back at the best genre films and television shows that came out in 2022. Of course, every reader’s preference and ranking will be different and everyone will have their opinions about these lists and are entitled to them. Drop a comment if you agree with the rankings or have different ones.

TV Shows

It is clear that we are in the middle of a Golden Age of genre TV shows given there so many high-quality shows that came out in just one year. Many of the streamed or aired TV shows are genuine classics with the top three shows being virtually tied for first place and their ranks can be interchanged.

10. The Peripheral

Loosely based on William Gibson’s book, this was one sci-fi show worth watching. Chloë Moretz Grace stars as a VR gamer in the near future caught up in a mind-bending conspiracy involving time travel and alternate realities.

9. The Sandman

This turned out to be a remarkably faithful adaptation of the classic DC/Vertigo dark fantasy comic book. More like a traditional episodic show with standalone stories, The Sandman was inventive, colorful, disturbing and brilliant.

8. Peacemaker

James Gunn sojourn into the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) took a hysterical turn with the first (and possibly final) DCEU TV show. It took one of the least likeable anti-heroes from The Suicide Squad and turned him into a relatable and emotionally complex character.

7. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Director James Gunn delivered an awesome, heartfelt and funny holiday special starring the Guardians of the Galaxy. In between the gooey holiday scenes were moments of pure laughter as the alien Guardians went to Earth to kidnap the actor Kevin Bacon to present as a Christmas present. The songs were great, too.

6. The Boys

With the introduction of Soldier Boy, The Boys took a turn at satirizing the Marvel Comics heroes with his clear similarities to Captain America. Meanwhile, the series continued to be outrageously violent with gross-out humor and in-your-face commentary about our times.

5. Obi-Wan Kenobi

Ewan McGregor reprised the role he made his own in the Star Wars prequels. The series served as both a sequel to those films and a prequel to the original Star Wars. Despite some flaws, McGregor elevated the show with his brilliant performance as a fallen Jedi who has to rediscover his faith.

4. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Despite some Star Trek shows that faltered in 2022, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds breathed new life in the franchise. This was due to smart scripts that emulated the original Star Trek, a charming cast, and a back-to-basics approach with its storytelling that favored standalone episodes.

3. Andor

Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

This Star Wars show was the ultimate slow burn as the prequel to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story centered on the anti-hero Rebel agent, Cassian Andor. Separate arcs thoroughly examined Andor’s personal growth and the people around him. It also realistically depicted of how a rebellion grows in an authoritarian society.

2. House of the Dragon

Many who were disappointed by the final season of Game of Thrones were pleasantly surprised by this fascinating prequel that focused on the dragon-worshiping Targaryen royal family. Despite its prequel limitations, the show quickly captivated audiences who were drawn back to the fantasy world of George R.R. Martin.

1. Stranger Things 4

The fourth season of Stranger Things managed to reinvigorate the series with fascinating origin stories and situations, and new and memorable characters. At the same time, this season focused on the core characters that were so beloved and who were allowed to grow as they faced terrifying new threats from the Upside Down dimension.

Honorable Mentions:

Doom Patrol; For All Mankind; Halo; The Handmaid’s Tale; Love, Death + Robots; Moon Knight; The Orville; Raised By Wolves; Severance; She-Hulk: Attorney At Law; Snowpiercer, Star Trek: Picard; Star Trek: Prodigy; Superman & Lois; Tales of the Jedi; Titans; Werewolf By Night; The Umbrella Academy; Undone

Films

Surprisingly, the genre offerings for 2022 were not as plentiful as in previous years. Superhero films still dominate the release schedule though many other genre films (horror, animated, sci-fi, fantasy) have made their presence felt as well in a solid year for genre films.

10. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

The sequel film delivered the best family film of the year. It was also an exciting, colorful and largely faithful live-action adaptation of the classic Sega video game hero and his expanded roster of friends and foes.

9. The Black Phone

This film by Scott Derrickson proved why he is one of the best visionary horror directors today with The Black Phone. He cleverly combined classic horror elements from serial killers to psychic phenomenon to ghosts.

8. Nope

Director Jordan Peele’s latest genre offering was an intriguing and original take on the U.F.O. phenomenon. Nope had its fair share of suspense, horror and the contemplative character studies Peele is known for, as well as elements of a neo-Western.

7. Prey

The Predator franchise was unexpectedly revived with the latest film that took the franchise in a new and fresh direction. Placing the film centuries ago, Prey amped up the thrills as the human characters had to rely on their wits and skills instead of technology against the inhuman Predator hunting them.

6. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Michelle Yeoh turned in a fantastic performance as several variations of the same character in this film that gave us a true multiverse of madness. The film truly went out there with its sometimes bizarre depictions of colliding parallel universes.

5. Jurassic World: Dominion

The conclusion to the second Jurassic Park film trilogy ended on a high note full of dinosaurs rampaging in modern-day society. However, the film’s true high note was when it had the main heroes from both trilogies meeting and teaming up to save the world from extinction.

4 Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Director Ryan Coogler pulled off the impossible with a sequel that does not feature the star or main character from the original film. This film was full of depth as it explored grief and loss, while expanding the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with the introduction of one of Marvel’s best anti-heroes, Namor.

3. The Batman

We actually got to see the Dark Knight Detective do some actual detective work in this grounded and gritty version of Batman. The dark and brooding film delivered intense action, intrigue and a horrifying version of the Riddler that rivaled classic cinematic serial killers.

2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

While the year’s top MCU film did not exactly deliver a multiverse of madness, it was a fun deep dive into the MCU with chilling horror elements and wild visuals. Sam Raimi was an inspired choice of a director who utilized his horror and comic book film background to full effect.

1. Avatar: The Way of Water

The sequel to Avatar, the biggest box office hit of all time, surprised many who dismissed it for being an empty special effects-heavy sequel. However, director James Cameron’s breathtaking vision of an alien world and its solid world building and characters helped propel Avatar: The Way of Water into a must-see event.

Honorable Mentions:

Barbarian; Beavis and Butthead Do the Universe; Black Crab; Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers; DC League of Super Pets; Lighthyear; Moonfall; Puss in Boots: The Last Wish; Smile; Strange World; Thor: Love and Thunder; Turning Red

DC Films’ Pending Comeback

It has become a bit of a running joke and a sore point for fans of DC Comics that the films based on the popular comic books have not been as well received as those from Marvel Studios.

For years, the films of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) have had a mixed reaction from critics and fans. The result was a perceived lack of quality or consistency, which was quite frustrating as the potential for the films and various DC characters was squandered. Two examples are Superman and Batman. After their joint film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice turned out to be disappointing it seemed as if DC Comics’ owners Warner Bros. (now Warner Bros. Discovery) gave up on the two characters, especially Superman, and focused on DC films not set in the DCEU.

Then there were extensive behind-the-scenes production problems, the most recent and glaring were the issues behind The Flash and its star Ezra Miller. Other properites were announced then abandoned. These issues in turn gave the perception that properties from the DCEU were inferior or at the very least were inconsistent as the film universe lacked direction.

This will all change thanks to the hiring of James Gunn and Peter Safran who will take over the newly formed DC Studios. The duo promise to bring a creatve and consistent approach to the DC films, TV shows, animation and other media. While the non-DCEU films and TV shows will continue to be made, such as sequels to Joker and The Batman, the two film executives will have a firm hand on the DCEU films and TV shows. Needless to repeat to fans that the two are well known for their work in previous DCEU films such as Aquaman, Shazam!, The Suicide Squad, and Peacemaker.

Also worth mentioning is that Warner Bros. Discovery has had a change of heart when it comes to Superman. Henry Cavill who originated the role with the first DCEU film Man of Steel, has already reappeared in the DCEU with a cameo in Black Adam, and will star in a new solo Superman film.

Meanwhile, Ben Affleck, who played Batman in the early DCEU films is also slated to return and in fact will appear as the Caped Crusader in The Flash, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and future DCEU films.

After the release of next year’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, it is not clear what exactly lies ahead for DCEU films. At this point, all we can speculate on are reports of another Wonder Woman film being developed, as well as sequels to Black Adam and The Flash. But keep in mind that David Zaslav, the president and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery has committed to developing a 10-year plan for the DCEU films. With the proven and talented guidance of James Gunn and Peter Safran, DC Studios will be quite successful with the effort.

It is an exciting time for DC fans, as the future holds a lot of promise for the DCEU. Now, if only we can get some kind of confirmation of a Green Lantern film…

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.

HAR_DM_FIRST LOOK RND F04

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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