Why can't DC get it right

Ever since Iron Man Marvel/Disney turns out blockbuster after blockbuster yet DC/Warner Brothers movies just seem to always be met with critical and fan rejection. What is the magic formula that Disney seems to have that WB just can’t match?

More specifically, the question is why they just can’t get it right in live action (since the first two Christopher Reeve Superman and the two Michael Keaton Batman movies) – the various DC Animated Universe 1990s-2000s series were pretty successful.

The Killing Joke movie caused quite the backlash, so not even the animated movies are safe anymore.

Yet their TV shows are doing quite well.

Zack Snyder.

Unfortunately, not the only problem.

ETA: Granted, he is a major problem (maybe the major one) but there are others.

Darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier, darker, grittier…

No, still not quite dark enough. :smack:

The Nolan Batman movies changed the genre pretty significantly, bringing a grim ‘n’ gritty aesthetic that worked well for them, but has not worked well for other films. Batman can get by without a lot of humor, especially if The Joker is allowed to be appallingly funny (“Watch this trick with a pencil!”) But if you don’t have a Joker, you just have grim, which gets tiresome.

Marvel has consistently included humor.

On the other hand, our family just sat down for pizza and the premiere episode of Supergirl, which isn’t great TV by any stretch but was perfectly fun superhero shenanigans.

Dammit. I wanted to say it first.

Warner Bros screwed up by hiring Snyder to oversee the franchise. Snyder’s not incompetent but he’s got a really narrow range and he’s trying to fit everything inside it.

They may be fixing this. Apparently Geoff Johns and Jon Berg are being brought in to oversee the franchise and Snyder is dropping down to just directing some of the movies. Johns has been working in DC comic books and on DC’s TV series so he’s got some credibility.

That said, they’re going to have a tough time turning the franchise around. Marvel got off to a bad start with the Hulk movies but they got on track quickly with Iron Man. They were able to introduce the characters after the early kinks were worked out.

DC, on the other hand, has already launched all its biggest characters. Once you’ve screwed up with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Justice League, you’re going to have a hard time fixing things even if you make a great Captain Marvel movie.

And perhaps just a soupçon more grit.

Johns has a co-producer credit for Green Lantern…

DC: Moar grim. Moar gritty.
Marvel: Here’s a talking raccoon, with a ROCKET LAUNCHER!!!

Machine gun, actually, but yeah - that pretty much sums it up.

The DC characters don’t look at all like they’re enjoying themselves. It’s all angst and guilt and shit, while Tony Stark is having an awesome ol’ time. I’m vaguely hoping that Wonder Woman and Aquaman will be a little more combat-happy (i.e. punch them in the face, they grimace momentarily, then smile and launch themselves back in the fray, like Thor does) - let them be warriors who actually like war.

If I were going to describe it, I would make two statements:

Marvel loves its comic-book origins, and will do whatever it needs to do in order to bring that aesthetic to the big screen. They experiment, but each experiment is meant to drive the idea forward. They know it’s silly and are going to run with it. DC, at least as run by its WB overlords, is deeply ashamed and suspicious of its comic book origins, and tries to sneak that away as much as possible.

Zach Snyder isn’t the problem. The problem is that people hired Zach Snyder for this. He has neither the vision nor the character to rive things in the way that Kevin Feige does, and his overmuscled Dude-bro attitude sickens me. DC also has a pitiful lack of confidence., which is probably they interfered with Suicide Squad.

Marvel isn’t trying to take something great and “tone it down”. They’re genuinely excited about the idea, say, of having a big-budget Ant-Man movie, and want to make the best possible Ant-Man movie. So that’s what they do. Ant-Man isn’t the kind of big name character that you’d normally try taking to the silver screen, but they’re doing it because that’s what they want to share. Marvel wants to make movies. DC wants to make money.

Marvel figured out a good formula… keep things bright and jokey, and constantly moving, and people will enjoy the film in the moment (even if it becomes hit-or-miss as to whether the film really “sticks with them” afterwards).

DC, on the other hand, keeps trying to recreate the magic of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and unwisely chose to hitch their wagon to Zack Snyder. He’s good at making visually stunning moments, which is why 300 worked well (as that’s kinda the whole movie), or the amazing intro to Watchmen. That’s also why the trailers for his movies always look great. But he doesn’t seem to really “get” the characters and what makes superheroes resonate with people in general, or know how to actually craft a good movie in-between all those stunning moments. He tries to ape Nolan but does so without understanding why it works.

Uhhhhhh…Batman V Superman is the fifth raking movie of the year with a draw of 873 million.

Suicide Squad has made 708 million.

The DC execs can’t hear your complaints over all that money. And this is all box office. They will make more bank on DVDS.

Justice League WILL make bank.
Now…critically?? As long as the they make craptons of money they don’t care. They will just write it off as crybaby fanboys.

Edit: “Marvel wants to make movies. DC wants to make money.” Or…what that guy said.

Yeah, they are laughing all the way to the bank… BUT…even they realize that without a real LOVE they are just making movies and not building empires.

In some ways they are doing what they should be doing–offering a different mindset and aesthetic for the genre. But it just hasn’t worked. Suicide Squad was their over eager attempt to ape a Marvel movie style and it also just didn’t work.

Marvel has actually been moving to a darker tone in a lot of their franchise. Tony Stark in Civil War was both depressed and depressing, and Daredevil and Jessica Jones are dark, too.

I think part of it is that DC characters are more iconic. No one cared that Marvel messed up the Hulk, and if they’d messed up Iron Man, no one would have cared much either. But if you don’t get Superman and Batman right, it’s harder to recover from.

The TV franchise is doing better for partly that reason, I think. No one is that invested in Green Arrow or the Flash or Supergirl, so there is less criticism for not matching people’s previous expectations, and more room for the creative types to experiment and find their own voice. Imagine if Arrow had been about Batman instead, or if Gotham had had an adult Batman in it. Everyone would be complaining that they got it all wrong.

(It’s also the case that Snyder’s vision is largely misunderstood. He’s not making superhero films. He’s making anti-superhero films, just like he did with Watchmen, and in the same sense that Saving Private Ryan is an anti-war film . The theme of his movies is that superheroes sound like a good idea, but the world would be much worse if they existed. Of course, Marvel picked this up themselves with their Tony Stark character arc, but they don’t focus on just that.)

Honestly? Marvel movies ain’t that great, and DC movies ain’t that bad.

Sure, Marvel Disney does keep a decent average quality (Not Oscar winners, nothing really awful), but non-Disney can range from the great (Spider-Man 2) to the pits (F4ntastic).

DC Warner is a bit like that, but, on the whole, they’ve given us the Nolan Batman trilogy which pretty much compensates a thousand Green Lanterns, and their less well reviewed movies are still hugely successful. Sure, Snyder is all about the action and seems to consider characters showing emotions a chore to go through, but if you can accept his Superman movies for what they are, instead of what you want it to be, it’s an enjoyable two hour ride.