Zack Snyder and Warner Bros have taken the biggest step and biggest possible risks so far with the creation of the DC Extended Universe, so how can their flagship Justice League film feel a little more lighter like the DC Brand?
Everybody has their own opinions on how an adaptation of their favorite material should look in another medium, especially film. I have my ideas, Zack Snyder has his, even Kevin Feige has a clear cut idea for his entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Obviously, you have you own opinions on how your favorite material should be adapted, as well. That’s exactly the problem with the modern blockbuster film landscape, but it’s become so toxic with the fans that we’ve lost the art of healthy communal discussion. However, I think it’s completely fine to discuss how we think these films can be more like our beloved material, and this is where I’m expressing my right to do so. You’ll probably disagree with me, Zack Snyder is probably going to end up doing something different in Justice League. That’s okay, though.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s my favorite filmmaker or obviously this website wouldn’t exist as it does today. His work is beyond what most people in film can do today, and it’s a total inspiration for myself. However, there is also a real reason DC Extended Universe films aren’t critically and somewhat commercially performing up to standard. In fact, a lot of casual audiences aren’t clicking with the films currently, but we’ve still got a couple more to go before the studio should even contemplate giving up. Let’s be real, Michael Bay never gave up on Transformers because he’s proud of the work he has created with those movies and will continue to do so until it’s not fun anymore. The fact of the matter is, perhaps Warner Bros and the DC Extended Universe aren’t pressing the right buttons with the audience for these types of films?
I’ve loved DC Comics ever since I was a tiny child, because my dad introduced me to superheroes pretty young. The same goes for professional wrestling, even though they’re practically the same thing. So I’ve at least tried everything I can DC-related since childhood from Batman: The Animated Series to Justice League Unlimited and now even the TV shows including Powerless and Supergirl, which I fully support. Each piece of DC content that gets adapted has it’s own flair and vision, Zack Snyder included. Heck, even Geoff Johns has rebooted several ideas in DC Comics canon just because he has a new vision for what these characters should be like. No form of medium is safe from re-adaptation, and that’s highly respectable. So with that out of the way, I have to say that I feel like Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio could make a few changes to their Justice League movie to make it feel a bit more like a lighter DC comic book adventure.
This Is A Good Place To Setup Camp
I love Batman v Superman. It’s my favorite Zack Snyder adaptation purely for the fact that he really does go bigger and badder as much as he possibly could at that point in his career. However, I do feel as though the creative team may have been a little “chicken” to go full force with the silly intricacies that appear in the DC world. I believe that it did perhaps suffer from too much “realism”, in the sense that despite having a man dressed up as a Bat fighting crime and an alien who can fly, this world very much still felt like ours and not a world where comic books come to life.
My biggest issue with the movie is that “Act 2” is almost non-existent from the script, as the characters spend a huge bulk of time setting up conflicts and sifting through their relationships and issues than being “doers” who take action into their own hands until the final battle. Though, I always kept this feeling that the movie could’ve had more campy elements to it. I’m not talking Adam West 60’s style stuff, but little subtleties could have been added to make you feel you’re more in a world that exists from within a comic book, moreso than a post-9/11 tragedy.
In contrast to that criticism, it is indeed one of Snyder’s trademarks to have hyper-realistic commentary in most – if not all – of his films. It’s something that Marvel fails to do as they assume the bulk of their audience are children, who wouldn’t be interested in a moving picture that discusses real world political issues in it’s underlying themes. Thus, this is also a downfall of the DC movies as they try to focus on being more ‘adult’ than Marvel, but actually fall and end up being too confusing or perhaps, unrelateable to the casual viewer. I completely feel as though Batman v Superman is sort of Zack Snyder’s spiritual sequel to Watchmen, but these themes don’t belong in that material. These movies end up being ‘controversial’ for reasons that are completely wrong, which is a double-edged sword for the audience and the studio.
Don’t get me wrong, a giant monster created from Kryptonian DNA to wreck havoc on Superman and all his allies sounds pretty campy to me, and it happened in Batman v Superman. Yet, the problem is that the movie suffers from a very odd mish-mash in ideas, where something as silly as that sounds ends up being grounded and realistic from visual design of the concept to the characters’ reacting to such an outlandish feature being like trying to insert a square peg into a circle hole. In fact, Batman’s one-liner to Superman — “I thought she was with you?” — is the only moment I really felt at home as a DC fan, because despite such a terrible situation unfolding, our hero isn’t being grimdark and edgy. Additionally, Batman — despite being the most tragically broken character in the movie — is the funniest one, which brings me to my next point.
“You Should Be A Comedian”
I’m a firm believer that humor is more important to the DC Universe than Gotham City or Metropolis. Most adaptations of DC content you will find include a hefty amount of humor. Some content is created exclusively for comedic purposes such as Teen Titans Go!, Batman: The Brave and The Bold and Powerless, as pictured above. More so, there are characters invented in the DC Universe whose existence is to provide comedic relief such as Mister Mxyzptlk. Now, I’m not asking Zack Snyder to introduce Bat-Mite. Neither am I asking him to turn Justice League into a romantic comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. The fact of the matter is that the perfect injection of comedy for the DC Universe is in the face of tragedy, which ironically is what the point of The Joker is.
Most of the time, there is humor everywhere in my life. I’m willing to laugh at any situation, no matter how ‘bad’ or ‘tragic’ is it, especially my own. Friends will roast any situation of mine in a group and the response back will be laughter if they’re making fun of a dead relative or a disease I might’ve contracted. Laughter is a great medicine, and it can come in many forms, but I didn’t feel a healthy dosage of it whilst watching Batman v Superman.
Yeah, I smirked and giggled at a lot of stuff but never did I evict the emotion of laughter despite feeling a lot of depression and sadness. There was an off-balance of chemicals going on in my brain while watching the film. If life can be a rollercoaster of emotions each and every day, then why do movies have to stick to evoking one? Even the funniest comedy films can make you feel depressed if they pull their triggers at the right time.
In light of that, news about Justice League that came out last year insisted that the film will definitely be ‘lighter’. The first trailer actually did make me laugh, with jokes from Batman and The Flash. Not to mention there’s lots of fun tension between Bruce and Diana with the “more-more or more-less” banter. It makes me proud to see that a DC movie might actually make me laugh, which hasn’t happened since Green Lantern (whether or not for the right reasons). Unfortunately, despite not being a huge follower every Marvel movie has made me laugh, and the best ones (Doctor Strange, The First Avenger & Thor in my opinion) have made me feel despair or sadness for a character or two, a perfect balance. That’s not to say that Marvel doesn’t flop around with it’s comedic balance, either. One moment that unfortunately always sticks out to me is “Tony Stank” from Civil War. It ruins a completely intimate talk between Rhodes and Stark.
Honestly, there’s nothing particularly wrong with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film is incredibly well-made. Zack Snyder put some of his best effort in to the film and out popped one of his greatest children to date. The fact of the matter is that the themes presented don’t click with the casual audience. Clay Enos always touts how Zack Snyder is incredibly ahead of his time. The best part? He’s right, but it’s making Warner Bros somewhat suffer. I’m all for Zack Snyder’s style and commentary that he presents. However all we’re saying Zack is that it’s okay to embrace your inner child every once in a while.
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