It’s looking likely that Warner Bros. are giving up on creating a DC Comics film cohesion similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Given the success of Joker, reports suggest that the film studio is looking towards more standalone projects. So now seems the right time to look back at what the DCEU films have offered.
DCEU Films Identified
Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DCEU films agenda is harder to define. Ignoring everything that went before – just as George Clooney does with Batman & Robin – as well as those still in the pot (namely the forthcoming The Batman), we’ll be taking onboard the eight films released since 2013. Which includes the debatable Birds of Prey (and The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).
8 – Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
The main problem with Batman Vs. Superman is that the script is just pure nonsense. The creators of the DCEU films seemingly assumed that it would be fine to take the Batman established in Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight series and plop him straight into a canonical sequel to Man of Steel. Trying to establish a bridge to Justice League without establishing which Batman this Batman is was always going to be flawed.
7 – Wonder Woman
Sociological statements aside (for which Wonder Woman was well intended, but obviously flawed), Wonder Woman is simply not a good film. Gal Gadot does a wonderful job of bringing the Amazonian superhero to life but is hamstrung by an awkward plot with bizarre pacing. The film doesn’t leave you wanting more, but wondering how such a mess could be made of a relatively simple introduction to a very important character.
6- Suicide Squad
A great cast and hugely appealing subject matter couldn’t save Suicide Squad. As a standalone film it’s not bad, but figuring out exactly where it aligns with the rest of the DCEU films is a headscratcher in itself. The second act misses a significant beat as we move from introductions to trying to establish the bad guys as good guys underneath; which is arguably the antithesis of the original comic books’ intent. These are bad guys made to do good things for personal gain, not hearts of gold that have had things a bit rough.
5 – Aquaman
Perhaps the best all of the DCEU films for setting-up a character for Justice League. Aquaman fails not in the establishment of it’s superhero, but in the delivery of it’s plight. The titular hero is so anti everything that it’s hard not to agree with him. The supporting cast of credible actors looking for a paycheck adds some credence to Aquaman‘s standing, but it’s Julie Andrew’s Kaiju that steals the show.
4 – Bird of Prey (and The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
So, is it? Isn’t it? If it is, where does it fit in the DCEU films? There’s a lot of debate about this one, especially as it appears as though Warner Bros. were set on treating Birds of Prey as a reboot of the Harley Quinn character. The trouble is the film puts Quinn – a very entertaining character – into a typical Hollywood superhero situation. Why does Quinn have to save the day, opposed to ruining it? Point. Missed.
3 – Man of Steel
Man of Steel is arguably the first film on this list that you can honestly say ‘it’s not bad’ about. Kevin Costner’s Johnathan Kent aside, Man of Steel is a good opener for the series. It establishes a new Superman (which Batman Vs. Superman failed to do, as stated above) and a controversial sentiment towards good vs. evil. This leads to a more confused Clark Kent than we’ve ever seen before; an ideology that will hopefully be fleshed-out in films yet to come.
2 – Justice League
Better than The Avengers, not as good as The Avengers: Infinity War. That’s a statements which will have some readers up-in-arms and others nodding in agreement. Justice League has been almost universally panned, but honestly there’s plenty of good stuff buried deep behind that awful Batman portrayal. The upcoming ‘Snyder Cut‘ may change things for the better. It may not. We’ll have to wait and see for that one.
1 – Shazam!
It’s the DCEU films equivalent of Guardians of the Galaxy. And for that, Shazam! is actually pretty good. In many ways it’s a callback to Tom Hanks’ BIG and really plays up the comic book origins in a good way. It’s genuinely funny in places despite the final act dragging a bit. Zachery Levy delivers the punchy antithesis to Ben Affleck’s Batman that the DCEU desperately needed.