Let’s just get this out of the way: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was awful and in a perfect world, we would be able to move on and pretend it didn’t exist. Of course, the film not only very much exists, it’s also the launching pad for the entire DC film universe, which makes it a pretty significant bookmark in the superhero film timeline. Although Batman v Superman may have turned some moviegoers off the DC universe altogether, one bad film is not indicative of an entire franchise’s quality. Setting aside Batman v Superman, there are a number of reasons to be excited for the DC film universe, which continues this summer with the release of Suicide Squad. If Warner Bros. plays their cards right, they could even become a legitimate contender to Marvel’s throne; not only in terms of financial success, but quality as well.
10. Green Lantern Rebirth
No, we’re not referring to the comic arc of the same name (although we would not be opposed to seeing it adapted). Warner Bros. seems to be aware that they need to be careful with how they handle Green Lantern in the DC film universe, as 2011’s Green Lantern is widely considered to be one of the worst superhero films ever made. It’s a shame too because anyone who reads Green Lantern comics knows how much potential the character has for cinematic adventures.
Fortunately, the DC film universe represents a fresh start for the character and although Warner Bros. is waiting awhile to give Green Lantern his own movie (Green Lantern Corps. is currently set for a 2020 release), we like to think that’s because they want to make sure they do the character justice. It’s been confirmed that Green Lantern will play a part in Justice League and whether it’s Hal Jordan, John Stewart , or another incarnation who bears the iconic Power Ring, you can bet that Green Lantern’s debut will be something to remember.
9. J.K. Simmons As Commissioner Gordon
Even if you hated Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, and want nothing more to do with DC’s movies, it’s extremely difficult to not be excited by the news that J.K. Simmons will be playing Batman’s old ally Commissioner James Gordon. Simmons is already known for his scene-stealing portrayal of J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, and if his take on Commissioner Gordon is even half as good, audiences are in for a real treat. When you stop and think about it, viewers have been positively spoiled when it comes to actors playing Gordon in Batman movies; Pat Hingle turned in reliable performances from Tim Burton’s Batman through to Batman & Robin, while Gary Oldman was quietly one of the best things about Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Simmons definitely has his work cut out for him when it comes to replacing Oldman, but we’re confident that he will prove more than up to the task when he makes his debut in Justice League next year.
8. Ben Affleck’s Batman
Warner Bros. recently confirmed what we all knew was happening by announcing that Ben Affleck will indeed direct and star in a new Batman solo film. Although there were significant problems with Batman’s characterization in Batman v Superman, none of that can be laid at the feet of Affleck, who gave an excellent performance as an even more brooding Dark Knight than we’re used to seeing. We’ll get to see more of Affleck’s take on the character in Justice League, but we’re more curious to see how he does in his own movie. In particular, Affleck’s chemistry with Jeremy Irons’s Alfred is something we want to see more of, and it would also be great if some of the backstory bits introduced in Batman v Superman are explored in more detail, especially the mystery surrounding what happened to Robin. It’s also important to remember that Affleck is an Oscar-winning director, so whatever form his Batman film takes, it is in more than capable hands.
7. The Justice League
Even though the fact that Zack Snyder is directing the Justice League movie is worrisome, there’s still reason to be optimistic about the end product. For one thing, it stands to reason that Warner Bros. will likely keep a tighter leash on Snyder this time around given that Batman v Superman didn’t live up to expectations critically or commercially. Snyder is an incredibly talented visual filmmaker, but he falters when it comes to storytelling, so if Warner can just let him do what he does best while reigning in his less desirable qualities, Justice League has a fighting chance at being an Avengers-caliber hit.
Furthermore, Batman v Superman showed how exciting it is to see DC heroes fight together in live action, and with the addition of even more characters in the form of Cyborg, The Flash, and Aquaman (and probably a few others), Justice League has the potential to outclass the first Avengers film in terms of spectacle. If they can just sort out the whole Superman being dead problem (which is still one of the dumbest things that happened in Batman v Superman), there’s no reason Justice League can’t deliver on its promise.
6. Warner Bros. Is Still Figuring Things Out
Batman v Superman’s overall shodiness makes it very easy to write off Warner Bros. entirely and assume that they have no idea what they’re doing with their shared universe model. While time will tell whether or not that is indeed the case, it’s important to remember that the studio is still new at this. Do you think Marvel knew how successful their shared universe plan would be when they first introduced Nick Fury at the end of the original Iron Man? Heck no. It took a ton of work and bold decision-making to get that franchise to the level it’s at today, and Warner Bros. is going to have to try just as hard (if not harder) to achieve something similar.
Admittedly, Warner Bros. should probably hire their own version of Marvel’s Kevin Feige, an overseer with a vision for how the series should be laid out going forward, but even if they don’t, it’s still way too early to write off the DC film universe entirely based on a couple bad eggs. We should at least wait and see what Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman bring to the table before hitting the panic button.
5. A Wealth Of Comics To Borrow From
Casual fans could be forgiven for thinking that Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is pretty much the final word on Batman as a character, considering the last two Batman films have borrowed heavily from Miller’s source material. The truth is that the DC Comics universe is overflowing with incredible stories that are ripe for adaptation and many of them are just as good as The Dark Knight Returns if not better. Injustice, Flashpoint, New Frontier, Final Crisis, Blackest Knight … the list of great DC Comics stories goes on and on, and the majority of them are a heck of a lot more fun and interesting than anything viewers saw in Batman v Superman. So if you thought that the grim, depressing overtones of that film was the best DC has to offer, think again. There is a rich comic book universe out there just waiting to be adapted to the big screen.
4. Suicide Squad Looks Like A Blast
Whether or not Suicide Squad turns out to be any good, the film’s marketing has sure done a fantastic job of making this villain team-up event look like an absolute riot. In many ways, Suicide Squad looks like the anti-Batman v Superman; whereas the latter film is overly dour, Suicide Squad looks genuinely fun and brimming with humor. That’s not to say that it also doesn’t look dark; this is a film that features villains as its protagonists after all, meaning it will skew towards mature content. While we’re a bit concerned that Jared Leto’s intense method acting shenanigans on and off the set will eclipse the quality of his actual performance, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t intensely curious to see how his take on The Joker compares to Heath Ledger’s, which remains the gold standard of cinematic interpretations. Plus, Batman is going to show up, which is reason alone to make Suicide Squad a must-watch.
3. DC’s Heroes Are Just As Awesome As Marvel’s
The old cliche is that Marvel’s superheroes are flawed and interesting, while DC’s are overserious, unrelatable gods. In its current state, both companies’ respective film universes seem to reinforce this cliche, but as any DC fan will tell you, this is a poor representation of how things really are. DC’s heroes are just as awesome as Marvel’s; in the right hands, Batman and Superman can be just as dynamic and filled with self-doubt as Spider-Man or Daredevil, while the Justice League can be just as fun and entertaining as the Avengers. Yes, audiences are much more familiar and comfortable with Marvel’s characters right now because of how often they get to see them, but given enough time, there’s no reason they can’t be just as enthralled with DC’s excellent stable of superheroes.
2. Wonder Woman
Even the most jaded viewer probably left Batman v Superman excited about the prospect of seeing more of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in the future, and from what’s been shown so far, it looks like her upcoming solo movie will deliver on that promise. It’s a bit unbelievable that DC will be getting a film focused on a female hero out the door before Marvel (their first, Captain Marvel, isn’t due until 2019), but it couldn’t happen to a more worthy heroine as far as we’re concerned. Wonder Woman is the definitive female superhero after all, and as the sole woman in the Justice League roster (at least so far), her solo movie has quite a bit of expectation to live up to.
Fortunately, Batman v Superman proved that Gal Gadot has a distinct screen presence in the role, which has silenced many of the naysayers that claimed she was too thin to play the part. The only question that remains is whether or not she has the acting chops to carry a whole movie, but with a solid origin story and the directing talents of Patty Jenkins giving her a boost, it’s easy to be optimistic about Wonder Woman’s chances.
1. It Can’t Get Any Worse
To the outside observer, DC’s film universe looks like a mess right now; a cobbled together answer to Marvel’s that is nowhere near as enjoyable or well thought out. It sounds disparaging to say, but when it comes to the future of DC’s movies, things really can’t get much worse. Warner Bros. is acutely aware of the bad critical reception both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman received and they’d be out of their minds not to try and address this problem going forward. Things will get better because they have to get better. There is way too much money riding on this whole thing for Warner Bros. to consistently lag behind Marvel. The company has the means and intellectual properties to truly compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe; now it’s just a matter of moving on from Batman v Superman and looking ahead to a (hopefully) bright future.