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 Superhero Multiversal Crossover Events Are Among Us

The biggest and latest thing now with live-action superhero films and TV shows are the crossover events that feature previous versions of superheroes and supervillains showing up to lend a hand or imperil the current heroes. The most recent and one of the best examples was seen in Spider-Man: No Way Home where the Spider-Man (Tom Holland) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) met two older versions of Spider-Man (both played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield) that appeared in their own films.

Of course, fans will be in for a treat this week as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness debuts and promises to deliver a the mother of all crossover events as the worlds of the MCU, previous Marvel films and more will interact. But that’s not all, next year The Flash will be about its own crossover event as the title hero’s (Ezra Miller) time travel antics will create alternate timelines and have him meet previous film versions of DC’s superheroes; notably Batman, reprised by Michael Keaton.

There have been other examples of multiverses in superhero films and TV shows. The TV series Loki, heavily dealt with this theme as the title villain (Tom Hiddleston) was a Loki from an alternate timeline that ultimately did not die as he escaped the events that led to his death in Avengers: Infinity War. This Loki grappled with knowledge about his potential fate, time travel and bizarre variants of his being, which included an alligator version of Loki (!). The events of the TV show probably led to the multiversal crisis befalling the MCU.

The Disney+ animated series What If…? exclusively explores other versions of the MCU, such as one where T’Challa never became Black Panther but instead became Star-Lord, or a world where zombies have overrun the MCU. More importantly at least two characters introduced in the What If…? series will appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. They are a dark version of Doctor Strange and a Peggy Carter who recieved the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. In one segment when a superpowered Ultron and the Watcher fought, their battle raged across different universes, including what may be the Star Wars universe. This series is inspired by the Marvel Comics title What If…? which explored different outcomes and events of the Marvel Universe, only the animated series focused on the MCU and for the most part the series was fun to watch.

Another terrific animated presentation from Marvel was the masterpiece Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which took place in an alternate world where a blond Peter Parker died as Spider-Man and Miles Morales took his place as a new Spider-Man. In his adventures he met alternate versions of Spider-Man including an older, jaded version of Peter Parker, Peter’s old girlfriend, Gwen Stacy and a cartoon pig. The film won the Oscar for best animated film and two sequels will be coming out starting next year.

Marvel is not the only one dealing with animated alternate worlds. DC has released several animated films based on their Elseworlds imprint, which is their own take of alternate universes. We’ve witnessed adaptations of popular Elseworld tales such as Superman: Red Son, Gotham Under Gaslight, and The Dark Knight Returns. These films were excellent adaptations of the source material or were inspired by the original premise.

DC has already had its live-action forays into alternate worlds. Crisis on Infinite Earths was a television crossover event that took place across DC’s Arrowverse TV shows. The event was a very loose adaptation of the classic comic book mini-series about multiple timelines and universes in DC being combined into one. The highlight of that event was, of course, the cameos, Easter eggs and appearances of DC heroes and villains from various live DC films and TV shows that were not part of the Arrowverse. For instance, we got to see Burt Ward reprise his role as Dick Grayson from the 1960s Batman TV show, we revisited the world of Smallville, and Brandon Routh appeared as Superman in a combination sequel to Superman Returns and loose adaptation of the classic comic book mini-series Kingdom Come. But the biggest surprise was that the TV version of the Flash (Grant Gustin) briefly met the film version played by Ezra Miller.

As to the rest of the crossover event, it was acceptable. Being these were Arrowverse shows with limited budgets, the result was what one would expect. Still, it was often entertaining and seeing the concept of a multiverse realized was fun, especially the end of the event which gave us tanatlizing glimpses into other worlds and stories.

These stories about multiverses and alternate characters and situations seemed unheard of fairly recently. Aside from the logistical hurdles of clearing rights and enticing actors to return to roles, the film and TV executives also feared that such stories would be too confusing. Sure, comic book readers and fans would understand the concept of alternate timelines and situations but the average person might not. Fortunately, as we have seen lately, these live-action presentations have been very successful, especially Spider-Man: No Way Home, which became one of the highest grossing films of all time. Still, the writers and showrunners have to be able to thread the needle carefully and tell a compelling and clear story. Otherwise, the result will be a confusing and unsatisfying film or TV show. The important thing to remember is that these are fun and fascinating explorations of our favorite characters. So for now, let’s enjoy and celebrate. these crossovers and multiverses for what they are.

Big Changes Coming For DC & The DCEU

This past week Discovery officially took over Warner Bros. and its properties including DC Comics and DC Entertainment. After doing so, the company (rebranded as WB Discovery) announced they were radically overhauling DC Entertainment and its superheroes, specifically their films and TV shows including those of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Even though there have been very successful DCEU efforts like Aquaman and Peacemaker, other releases did not exactly hit the high bar when it came to box office sales or critical/fan reception (Wonder Woman 1984). The goal of the restructuring is to make the DCEU genuinely competitive with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

This would mean that a head honcho would be hired to oversee the production of DCEU films and TV shows in the same manner that Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige, does with the MCU. This also implies that the DC films and TV shows will be more coherent and less disjointed, while some once-prominent properties will get more attention. In fact, WB Discovery stated that Warner Bros. allowed top tier properties like Superman “languish” to the detriment of the DCEU and DC.

The Snyderverse and Stalled Efforts

Frankly, the coming changes are a much needed shot in the arm for DC and the DCEU, which has lacked a strong visionary leader. Previous leaders like Walter Hamada, Geoff Johns and Zack Snyder proved to be unable to present a clear direction for their films. Only Snyder came the closest to presenting a vision that was coherent. Unfortunately, Snyder is also a film director and when his Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice did not impress critics and fans, and Justice League failed to reach the success of The Avengers, he was ushered out of the door by Warner Bros. and the DCEU that he helped create basically fell apart. Part of the problem with Zack Snyder being in charge with the DCEU (or the Snyderverse as some fans called the early films) is that although Snyder is a gifted director, what was needed to oversee the films was a producer in the mold of Kevin Feige. A producer is tasked with the production of films or TV shows and brings a guided vision to entire productions. Directors are focused on individual films first and bring their own stamp to what they film. It is not possible given a director’s schedule to expect him or her to oversee the vision of several films at once.

Even before Snyder’s exit, projects were stalled after big announcements, while conflict occured with many actors and filmmakers. Directors and writers joined and left projects. Then there were the casting headaches Warner Bros. faced from the fact that Henry Cavill, cast as Superman in the Snyderverse, was for all purposes, dismissed to the outlandish and criminal behavior of Ezra Miller, whose film The Flash has not even come out yet. Then there is the fact that The Flash was in perpetual development hell for the longest time as directors and writers exited the film left and right. Now, there are rumors that Miller will be fired from his role and in his situation it would be easy. Since The Flash deals with the title hero time traveling and alternate universes, just reshoot the ending to replace Miller with a new actor. Even Grant Gustin from the TV version of The Flash would be a better choice, although that casting may be too confusing for some.

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Twilight Of The Arrowverse

The Flash, the flagship TV show of the Arrowverse, has been renewed for a ninth season. “YAWN”

Legends of Tomorrow might be renewed for an eighth season, but being the TV show airs on The CW, its renewal is likely. No surprise, if it is renewed.

Batwoman…er, is this thing still on?

To be serious, the Arrowverse has seen better days. That was back when Arrow was in its early seasons and The Flash was considered one of the best superhero TV shows. But now, the interconnected TV shows based on DC superheroes are considered outdated, some of them have had problematic productions and there is little excitement over them.

Yes, Superman & Lois is a great superhero TV show and is part of the Arrowverse, but even that show seems embarassed to be associated with the Arrowverse. Nearly all of its episodes do not have any references to the larger Arrowverse. One notable episode that guest-starred the Arrowverse mainstay, John Diggle (David Ramsey), only annoyed fans of Superman & Lois because the show is very well done with superior writing, acting and special effects.

These Arrowverse TV shows are masterminded by Greg Berlanti. He is also behind better received, non-Arrowverse shows like Titans, Stargirl and Doom Patrol, so he can produce quality TV shows and the early days of the Arrowverse confirm this. However, the proper Arrowverse is creatively running on fumes and, aside from Superman & Lois, need to be put out to pasture. At least Arrow quit while it was more or less ahead in its seventh season when its star Stephen Amell decided to leave the show. Even at that point, Arrow had seen a decline in quality, although its final season was generally well done.

The issue of TV shows that go on for too long is a common one with most TV shows on The CW, which is now up for sale by its owners WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS. If and when the sale goes through and, particularly if WarnerMedia is spunoff by its owners AT&T, the future of the Arrowverse is dim.

So, we could be looking at the twilight of the Arrowverse.

This will generate collective yawns from most viewers and fans who have moved on from the Arrowverse. It is a shame because at one point, the Arrowverse TV shows were some of the best and most engaging superhero fare on TV. Honestly, when Arrow debuted on October 12, 2012 and spawned other TV shows, it was an exciting time since they were the only game in town. During that time, as Marvel Entertainment dominated the box office, DC ruled the airwaves. But eventually the competition caught up and surpassed the Arrowverse. Not just Marvel, but even DC, as edgier and better produced shows like Doom Patrol, and now Peacemaker, captured our attention.

The problem with the Arrowverse is that they are quickly churned out, have limited budgets and it shows. Most of the shows feel the same. They usually have the main character/superhero who has some back up team providing support, which is odd since the comic book counterparts operated by themselves or with little support. This team consists of some annoying computer or tech nerd who talks too much, a grounded, more mature, mentor, the love interest who has nothing to do and winds up becoming an integral part of the team for no reason, and a young protege superhero who tries to follow in the hero’s footsteps. The villains are hit or miss and often badly overacted. When the villain does connect that foe then becomes overused by the shows’ tired writers.

Also, the average Arrowverse show dwells too much on vapid romantic sub plots that are good sleep tonics for anyone who is not a lovesick teenager. Being that the shows on The CW are geared towards younger viewers, this helps explain the worn out formula and emphasis on romance with the Arrowverse TV shows.

Another flaw is that the Arrowverse shows have too many episodes per season, which betrays its outdated model. Try to name a show currently airing or streaming with over 20 episodes in a season. Good luck with that. The point is that by churning out so many shows in a limited time period it is difficult to produce quality episodes. This amounts to lots of filler episodes that can be skipped. What’s worse is that the main story arc for a season meanders on and is unfocused.

With all these flaws it is hard to deny the Arrowverse has outlived its shelf life. The Arrowverse is clearly in a twilight phase of its existence and it’s sad to observe. The Arrowverse helped set the mode for a modern, interrelated TV universe where characters would casually appear in any given show. This TV universe deserves to be commended for its contribution to the geeky arts even as it is in its final moments.

Top Ten Most Anticipated Films & TV Shows Of 2022

After a couple of years of relatively few genre offerings, 2022 looks like it will reverse that trend with plentry of film releases and television shows airing or streaming. These are the most anticipated films and TV shows of 2022 but note their releases are not certain and will change as we just saw with Morbius, which was delayed from January 28 to April 1. Also some of the films and TV shows listed may turn out to be inferior dreck while other unlisted films and TV shows may wind up surprising everyone and become the newest classics. Without further delay here are the top ten most anticapated films and TV shows of 2022, plus some notable mentions.

Films

10. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

The first Sonic the Hedgehog was a real surprise and proved an entertaining and solid live-action film based on a video game franchise was possible. The sequel will more closely follow the Sonic videos and include more characters from the games, such as Quills and Tails.

9. The Flash

The DC Extended Unverse (DCEU) faces a reboot that replaces Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill as Batman and Superman in this live-action solo film for the Flash. This film which is loosely based on the comic book mini-series Flashpoint is bound to be controversial with many DCEU fans

8. Everything Everywhere All At Once

Michelle Yeoh stars in this trippy looking film about an ordinary woman recruited to stop an multiversal evil by channeling the skills and memories of alternate versions of herself from different realities. If anything, it should be an acting tour de force for Yeoh.

7. Lightyear

Everyone’s attention was captured the moment it was announced that this Pixar film about Buzz Lightyear would not be based on the Toy Story character but a pulp sci-fi adventure that the toy was based on. An additional bonus is that the title hero is voiced by everyone’s favorite hero, Chris Evans.

6 Thor: Love and Thunder

Director Taiki Waititi reinvigorated the Thor films with his Thor: Ragnarok. That film was so successful and beloved that Marvel Studios greenlit a fourth Thor film helmed by Waititi. This cosmic-based entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) once again stars Chris Hemsworth in his legendary role as Thor and features the Jane Foster Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

5. Jurassic World: Dominion

The conclusion of the Jurassic World trilogy finally unleashes the dinosaurs into our modern world with disastrous results! The concept is a throwback to those old dinosaur films with the prehistoric animals running amok in our streets; plus Jurassic World: Dominion is bringing back our favorite characters from the original Jursassic Park.

4. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Part One

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse took everyone by surprise over its innovative animation and fantastic storytelling about growing up, legacies and all the wild variations of Spider-Man. It was little wonder it won the Oscar for Best Animated Film. The trailer for the sequel promises more of the same as Miles Morales meets a future version of Spider-Man and more.

3. Avatar 2

The first Avatar is usually looked down upon but it is actually a great sci-fi film by James Cameron. The master director always gave us entertaining and exciting epics and this follow up to Avatar will most likely be as thrilling and present cutting-edge special effects. Just wait until the first trailer drops. By then, the excitement and anticipation for Avatar 2 will be explosive.

2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Our first glimpse of the sequel to Doctor Strange wowed audiences after the end credits of Spider-Man: No Way Home. The teaser featured the wild visuals and appearances by many characters to whet our appetites, including the Scarlet Witch, fresh from WandaVision. Even more enticing was the teaser’s final stinger that revealed an alternate, darker version of the Sorcerer Supreme, which possibly ties to the What If…? animated show. Then there are the rumors that the film will introduce non-MCU characters like the Fox X-Men and the Fantastic Four. let’s hope those rumors pan out.

1. The Batman

Director Matt Reeves takes his turn with DC’s most popular superhero and the trailers have blown us away which promise an emphasis on a gritty and mature version of the Caped Crusader that seems more like a crime thriller comic book brought to life that evoke the gritty, early Golden Age Batman from the comics books. The moody and dark trailers focused on a raged-fueled Batman and an actual mystery from a fiendish villain have stoked our cravings for the newest live-action Batman. Thankfully we only have to wait a few more weeks to see The Batman.

Other Noteworthy Films:

65; Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom; Black Adam; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Distant; Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore; Moonfall; Morbius; Nope; Secret Headquarters; Samaritan; Super Mario Brothers; Turning Red

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