Sometimes, ingenuity is cultivated through failure. We’ve heard the stories of Thomas Edison having thousands of failed inventions before the light bulb. Steve Jobs promoted numerous failed devices but we only remember him for the iPod and iPhone. Instagram started off as a geotagging app before it became what it is today. DC turned one of the best on-screen Superman stories into a clash-of the titans mashup of three different story-lines and called it Batman v Superman.
Call me crazy, but DC’s biggest failure has given birth to their best idea yet: Slightly disjointing the continuity of their universe.
After Man of Steel, all the power was given to Zack Snyder to take over the expanded universe. Without a Kevin Feige, who serves as president of Marvel Studios, we wound up with Batman v Superman. While I’ve softened my opinion on this movie after seeing the extended version, it’s still one bad idea compounded exponentially to create one huge mess. You have an aged Batman, who is older than his Justice League counterparts both on and off the screen. This movie also zooms past the death of Robin, which seems like it would be an area worth exploring. BvS serves as an origin film and a redemption story for Batman all under a messy 3 hour run time. By forcing this story-line, Batman’s motivations don’t seem organic and I have a hard time buying them as a viewer. Superman, who is meant to be the beacon of hope for humanity, is stripped of everything that makes him one of the most revered superheroes of all time.
This movie alone skipped at least three movies worth of valuable real estate by combining a Man of Steel sequel, solo Batman movie and a prequel to Justice League. This messy mistake is a blessing in disguise.
Wonder Woman provided the blueprint of how DC’s extended universe can operate. Since the core members of the justice league are already established, the solo films can live outside of that canon with no pressure of being a bridge to a larger movie.
Introducing Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman, while incredibly stupid, allowed Wonder Woman’s origin to flourish with no restraints. Solo movies can play with different tones and themes while the Justice League movies can be left to have an uniform look and feel.
Batman’s solo movie tentatively titled The Batman, can be set in any time of Batman’s life and serve as a character arc for the Batman we see in the Justice League movies. Matt Reeves, director of the last two critically acclimated Apes movies is already promising a noir-detective Batman, which is a totally different tone from what we’ve seen. This Batman story can be used to fill in the gaps of Batman’s story in this universe.
Also, since these solo films exist outside of the main canon, there is no obligation to make them kid friendly. The Justice League movies can be everything we’ve known super heroes to be: Lighthearted, filled with quips, and relatively tame for younger viewers. These outlying movies can dig deeper into psychology of their rich roster of characters.
If there is any advantage over Marvel, this is it. They can do whatever they want with their characters without having a room or lawyers involved. There is no argument over licensing because all of their characters are housed under the same roof. Now, Geoff Johns will be overseeing all creative decisions. This is what DC was lacking. One person had all of the creative control but nobody to sign off on the decisions being made. In the absence of Zack Snyder, who had to step away to deal with a family tragedy, Joss Whedon has been elected to implement the new vision. Whedon has been candid about the micromanaging at Marvel, so he’s happy to have a new home to truly do what he wants.
Will DC’s new plan work? Who knows. I’m actually not that confident in the execution. However, I can admit this plan is pretty exciting on paper.