Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice makes its long awaited debut next week. It’s been a much discussed movie and now that it’s upon us our EIC weighs in on what he wants from DC and Warner from the film that will be the foundation for their own cinematic universe. Enjoy!
Prove You Don’t Have to Make Movies The Marvel Way (Because You Have No Choice)
Before I begin, I think Marvel’s way of building their cinematic universe is brilliant. It’s fluid, planned, and just works. I would never complain about a studio wanting to create a living and breathing universe with their properties if they did it like Marvel. It’s smooth and introduces new characters in a way that makes sense and doesn’t bog down their team movies with unnecessary origin stories.
DC decided to approach their universe in a completely opposite way by introducing two of your biggest most iconic characters not in solo films, but a team-up. I’m not saying this isn’t going to work. Sure, I’m skeptical that this will be too much at one time, but DC doesn’t have time to on their side and, if I was a betting man, this is probably the reason for the risk.
Marvel started early in plotting out their universe so that they could save Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, essentially Marvel’s “Big Three”, to debut first time together on screen in The Avengers. Warner and DC doesn’t have this luxury. They need to get their Big Three on screen now rather than later. They can’t do solo films to set up The Super Friends’ first team-up for the first time to face a common threat while Marvel’s trio is already running around in their third and fourth movies. Not to mention all the cool new faces that would be joining them by the time DC got to an actual Justice League movie.
The good news is that DC has only one key character they need an on-screen origin story for and that is Wonder Woman. Superman has been taken care of with Man of Steel and Batman doesn’t really need another on-screen origin story. Marvel didn’t have this luxury, but they overcame it with great planning. DC does have this luxury and now has to figure out how to use it to their advantage and not screw it up.
DC has a unique opportunity that they can only pull off by proving that they can make a working cinematic universe without completely following the Marvel blueprint. They have established major characters with enough new ones to build excitement for their new movie universe, but the pressure is on and it’s time for DC to put this all together. Let’s hope they don’t fold.
Establish Superman and Batman’s Friendship
As hard as it may be able to believe that Supes and Bats are supposed to be best friends, but they are and DC needs to plant those seeds in this movie somewhere in between them punching each other in the mouth.
This friendship between an idealistic Kansas farm boy and a brooding anti-social millionaire is one of the best in comics. The juxtaposition between Superman’s optimistic view of the world versus Batman’s distrust of it keeps both characters from going completely overboard on their belief system. Superman keep Batman from completely sliding into the darkness while Batman keeps Superman from being blinded by the light. This film needs to establish that the two need each other’s friendship to stay centered. Neither one of them are going to pull the other completely to their worldview, but they keep them from completely buying into their own.
The friendship between Clark and Bruce is key for this universe. People have complained about this being an awful dark universe, myself included, but this relationship can bring a lot of levity to the universe as the friendship continues to grow. In the comics, Clark and Bruce crack jokes, talk about women, and just discuss life in general.
One of my favorite comics of the last 15-years is Jeph Loeb’s Batman/Superman. It was a great ride with two friends that fought crime and watched each other’s back. It was a book based solely on a friendship between the flying farm boy and daring detective that keep each other honest. In short, it was fun. And I hope DC can replicate that on the big screen.
Give Wonder Woman the Spotlight
It’s about time that DC gives Wonder Woman center stage. This may be the most important aspect of the entire film.
DC has to make Diana more than just a the second fiddle to Superman and Batman. They have to establish her as legit powerful character that doesn’t take flack from anyone, including Clark and Bruce. This may be the biggest challenge for DC in their cinematic universe because they haven’t really done this in their comics. Besides Perez’s run on the title after DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, the first of many continuity reboots for the company, there isn’t really many key Wonder Woman stories that puts her on par with Batman and Superman except for Darwyn Cooke’s classic The New Frontier when she is written as a warrior that puts even Superman in his place. This is the characterization that DC needs to take with Wonder Woman on the silver screen. Make her a hard nosed warrior that forces anyone and everyone to respect her, but has a heart of a hero and the elegance of a queen.
Marvel took the Black Widow, a relative unknown to anyone other than comic fans, and made her be more than just the token female character on a team full of dudes. She kicks butt and doesn’t take any crap from The All-American, the arrogant genius playboy, an Asgardian god, or even a big green angry monster. Natasha has been written with respect and it shows.
DC has one of the most recognizable female super heroes in all of pop culture and I’m terribly afraid they won’t do her justice. This should be DC’s easiest job and the one advantage they have over Marvel: an established and beloved female lead already on their roster. Let’s hope DC and Warner realizes this and lets Diana have her first of many big screen moments.