Why the DC Extended Universe desperately needs a reboot

Justice League. Image Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment, HBO Max
Justice League. Image Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment, HBO Max /

Next to the MCU, the DC Extended Universe is a huge flop. With the Snyder Cut nearly here, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

With Zack Snyder’s Justice League around the corner and a reported Superman reboot with J.J. Abrams on the way, I’ve been thinking a lot about the DC Extended Universe of movies from Warner Bros. Because let’s face it, compared to the MCU, the DCEU is slacking. This is a shame, because DC has some of the most iconic superheroes and storylines in comic book history. How great would it be to see a Sinestro Corps War or Tower of Babel movie? The fact is, DC has sadly fumbled at nearly every turn, and I think it’s time for a reboot.

Right now, the DCEU is a confusing mess, with decision-makers who would rather focus on Aquaman and Harley Quinn over Superman and Batman, the two most important characters in DC Comics. Don’t get me wrong; I thought Birds of Prey was good, and I liked parts of the Aquaman movie, but all I want is a Man of Steel sequel with Henry Cavill.

I would also like some consistency between movies and a coherent shared universe. While I’m excited for Robert Pattinson’s take on the Caped Crusader, I will miss Ben Affleck’s Batman, who had more potential than he was allowed to show. Do I disagree with Batfleck’s use of excessive violence and blatantly murdering people in movies like Batman v Superman? Absolutely. Do I think he would have shined under a different writer and director? Yes.

Basically, when audiences are more invested in a standalone origin story of the Clown Prince of Crime that is in no way connected to the larger movie universe you’re creating, you know you’re doing something wrong.

Thankfully, I think the DCEU can start to heal, as the root of most of its problems is on his way out. Warner Bros. kicked off what would become the DCEU with Man of Steel in 2013, written and directed by Zack Snyder. In retrospect, this is not a bad movie. But it’s clear that Snyder wasn’t very interested in honoring the characters as they appear on the pages of DC Comics. The Last Son of Krypton is supposed to symbolize hope. Snyder’s Superman was bleak and gritty.

This continued to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, where Snyder gave us a menacing version of Batman who doesn’t think twice about killing criminals or using guns. This is not Batman. It goes against his moral code to kill. Snyder wanted to adapt the edgier version of the Caped Crusader from The Dark Knight Returns, but his Batman doesn’t much resemble that one, either.

Snyder also gave us one of the worst versions of Lex Luthor. As played by Jesse Eisenberg, this Lex was not the cunning and sinister mastermind from the comics or previous Superman movies. Instead, he was an eccentric and bumbling weirdo whose contrived plan involved Superman and Batman fighting each other to show the world how flawed the Man of Steel was. But also, he wanted to resurrect Zod to kill Clark anyway. What kind of plan is this? You cannot have it both ways, Lex.

And the thing that disappoints me most about Batman v. Superman is how it wasted The Death of Superman storyline. Doomsday was clearly shoehorned in the movie, coming out of nowhere in the last act. This isn’t a story that can be rushed at the very end of the second movie of a purported cinematic universe. It should have been adapted only after spending multiple movies with Cavill’s Superman getting to know and understand him, along with the other heroes who would play a part.

This led to the confusing theatrical release of Justice League, which had difficulty balancing tone, story and characters. Of course, the movie didn’t have much of a shot after Snyder had to step away midway through due to a family emergency, with Joss Whedon brought in to replace him. After all the rewrites and reshoots (not to mention allegations of Whedon’s abusive on-set behavior), we had a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie that wasn’t going to please anyone.

While I enjoy some of Zack Snyder’s films, I cannot say I enjoyed his interpretation of these iconic heroes and stories. Now that his re-upped version of the movie is coming out on HBO Max, he seems ready to leave the DCEU for good, and in his absence, it can focus on getting a new start.

The upcoming Flash movie could be the perfect opportunity for the DCEU to start correcting itself. If it loosely adapts the Flashpoint storyline, it could fix many issues by resetting the DC Universe with a time travel story that messes up the timelines. I believe a significant story like this should be built up to rather than used for the first standalone Flash movie, but it’s still a golden opportunity for the DCEU.

It’s a shame that it had to come to this, but Warner Bros. can start to amend their mistakes if they play their cards right. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman should be the main stars of this universe, much like how Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor were the central characters of the MCU in its early days. At least Wonder Woman has had two movies under her belt, albeit of varying quality.

DC has so many fantastic characters and stories that are begging to be adapted. It’s time to get writers and directors who understand these characters behind the wheel, all of it tied together with a cohesive plan. Is this too much to ask?

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