Self-Inflicted Wounds: Is Warner Brothers Hurting Themselves with the DCEU?

Joseph Gioeli Joseph Gioeli
Expert Contributor
January 16th, 2018

ComiConverse Expert Contributor focusing on film and television.

It is no secret that the DC Extended Universe has been having some issues at the foundation, which is most likely stemming from Warner Brothers and what seems like a one-sided and tumultuous relationship. Our Joseph Gioeli attempts to decipher if the issue for the DCEU lies behind the scenes with Warner Brothers.

Over the past few years, there has been quite a bit of conflict between Warner Brothers, DC, and the fans. Since the DCEU started in 2013, only one out of their five films thus far, Wonder Woman (2017), has been subject to positive critical reviews, and deservingly so, but mainly because there were not many reports of Warner Brothers having to step in and alter the runtime or script; there were rumors of the film being a mess, but they were quickly dismissed by director, Patty Jenkins.

Reports infamously flowed like water through the media about issues with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017), two Zack Snyder-led projects, which creates a few new questions; Does Warner Brothers have an issue with Zack Snyder? Or do fans have a problem with Zack Snyder, forcing Warner Brothers to follow suit?

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The Zack Snyder Issue

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Whichever way you look at it, the majority of DCEU films at the time of writing have been led by Zack Snyder, whose calling card has been a rather dark tone, a plethora of slow-motion scenes and heavy use of CGI, which many people are not fond of lately. Although, beyond all that, Zack Snyder is widely considered to be the biggest comic book fan ever to direct a funny book film, and it shows. His take on films such as 300 (2006), Watchmen (2009), and yes, even Batman v Superman, were all incredibly accurate to the source material. Some scenes from all of these movies were pulled directly from the graphic novel of which they were based on.

 

Snyder gave the DCEU and Warner Brothers an advantage over Disney and the MCU: Source material. While some of the storylines are loosely based on comics, and the characters are apparently directly from the source material, no Marvel movie has mirrored the comic book like some of Zack Snyder’s films have. This would have created an entirely different feel to a comic book cinematic universe than fans were accustomed to, but instead of allowing Snyder to make the films how he wanted to, which many real DC fans thoroughly enjoyed and in some cases, praised, Warner Brothers put restrictions on Snyder.

Snyder is infamous for creating extremely long films; films in which the studio is typically forced to trim for a theatrical release. For example, the dramatic runtime for Watchmen was two hours and 42 minutes, but the Ultimate Cut was over three and a half hours long. Similarly, Batman v Superman was given a two hour and 30-minute runtime, but when the Ultimate Cut was released, an extra half hour was added taking the runtime to around three hours. Both of these films were better in their entirety, to little surprise, but the production companies (Warner Brothers), forced these films to be heavily trimmed.

Justice League suffered a similar fate, but almost worse.

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Warner Brothers’ Missteps

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It is almost as if Justice League never even stood a chance. From the jump, critics and mainstream comic book fans wrote this film off and assumed it would be wrong, especially with Zack Snyder behind the camera. Then came boatloads of rumors (multiple times) about Ben Affleck wanting out as Batman and even Warner Brothers trying to push Affleck out, to which Affleck and Warner Brothers had to detest (multiple times). The final shot was news of Zack Snyder leaving the project as they neared the end of filming and began post-production and reshoots, due to family obligations. On top of the heart-wrenching news, Justice League reshoots would be led by Joss Whedon, whom directed Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), which rubbed some DC fans the wrong way, even though Whedon was in talks to direct a solo Batgirl film that would be part of the DCEU.

After the movie was released with a runtime of two hours, and rumors started flying about how much of the original Zack Snyder led film, (being coined as the “Snyder Cut”), was left on the cutting room floor, on top of some “cringeworthy” CGI done mainly to Henry Cavill’s face, the film was an epic flop with critics, although it still did reasonably well among fans, earning the second-highest audience score within the DCEU.

If Warner Brothers want to create a cinematic universe that is different from Marvel’s they should stop trying to mimic Marvel. The top 10 highest grossing films for Warner Brothers have all been well over two hours in theatrical runtime, so to release a movie that they purposely cut down to two hours seems counterintuitive on the part of Warner Brothers. It is also no coincidence that soon after the dust settled from the Justice League release, Warner Brothers appointed a new Head of DC Films, Walter Hamada, who has ties to James Wan, the director of the next DC film to be released, Aquaman (2018).

Fans may never know the motives or causes for these issues in the DCEU, so all we are left to do is speculate, but at a certain point, we have to assume that we are dead-on.

Do you agree? Do you think Zack Snyder the issue at Warner Brothers? Is there something that you think we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Joseph Gioeli is an Expert ComiConverse Contributor. Follow him on Twitter: @joegioeli

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