It’s the end of DC as we know it

The dawn of a new DC Universe is upon us, with James Gunn and Peter Safran planning a new series of film, television and gaming projects. But before we get there, we have nine months that feel like the last breaths of the DCEU, almost poetically drawing to a close a decade after its debut man of Steel In 2013.

First out of the gate is David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! wrath of the godsthe continuation of Shazam! (2019), which proved to be a modest hit and was seen as another course-correcting step in the right direction for the DC franchise, the third to be precise, but who’s counting? Some critics even called it the best DCEU film to date. A sequel should, in theory, be a big draw given that the opening salvo for the three other DC films slated for this year The Lightning, Blue BeetleAnd Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. So why does it feel like the DCEU is limping towards conclusion rather than culminating in a celebration of a decade of storytelling?

Early social media reactions to wrath of the gods were enthusiastic and positive, while reviews were relatively positive, albeit softer than the original. But box office projections point to a less enthusiastic opening. Given the numbers the film faces, Warner Bros. and New Line’s marketing for the film has certainly become a desperate plea to “come see,” with TV spots spoiling the film’s grandeur , which somehow feels even sadder Black Adam Star Dwayne Johnson revealed Henry Cavill’s Superman cameo during the red carpet press.

So what is it about wrath of the gods what stands in the way of a lightning rod? Well, it depends on a number of factors. While the sequel has no shortage of talent, it brings in Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler as antagonists. You play the daughters of Atlas – Hespera, Kalypso, Anthea, each non-comic characters. This makes it a bit more difficult in terms of marketing and pointing the audience to specific comic books that they can relate to and build enthusiasm on. The second problem is that Shazam’s most iconic antagonist, Black Adam, got a solo movie that flopped at the box office last year, robbing any possibility of the matchup between Shazam and Black Adam that audiences had been hoping for since the films were announced. But the biggest boulder stands in the way wrath of the gods With a new DC cinematic universe on the way, what are audiences being asked to invest in?

Now, one could say that the merits of the film should be viewed individually and not in terms of what it sets up or the post-credit scenes that may never come to fruition in another film. I would say so myself, by the way. Watch the film for the film and not for how well it serves as a teaser trailer. But I think if we’re being realistic, that’s not how people see these films, at least not quite. A Shazam film that has the guaranteed promise of a clash with Black Adam or the character who joins the Justice League simply plays differently to audiences than a Shazam film that sees the return of Sivana and the Monster Society of Evil rolled into one Movie teases that doesn’t seem likely to be made. It shouldn’t be like that, but it is like that. The chatter on social media has already returned to the same question about these pre-reboot movies: “What’s the point anyway?” The point is to see a good movie, but I don’t know if that counts as a compelling argument for a franchise that has had more hits than misses, at least critically speaking, is enough.

While new DC Films co-head James Gunn has said everything is on the table to potentially continue in the DCU, and Shazam!, at least the first film, has no continuity-breaking references, it all feels a bit muddy as an explanation for audiences who have been told a reboot with a new Batman and Superman is imminent. Words like “soft restart” with elements of The Suicide Squad And peacemaker Grandfather can be kicked out, and it might be, but that means nothing to the general audience who’ve grown up watching MCU films that emphasize a single continuity where “everything matters,” despite the fact that it’s a marketing ploy. But it’s a ploy people believe in, and that’s something Warner Bros. Discovery doesn’t have in regards to their current production of DC movies, which between the frequent lead changes, the divisive nature of the movies, and the actors, With these characters having a future and an entire Batgirl movie on hold, the current situation has taken on a “er, we don’t really know if it matters yet” attitude.

Gunn’s announcements about Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters, the launch of DCU, have certainly been exciting and, in general, have made many people more optimistic about DC’s future on the big screen outside of Batman films than they have been in a long time. But it feels like the announcement comes at the expense of the films already slated for release that are outside of it. It commemorates the 20thth Century Fox released Dark Phoenix And The new mutants after the Disney merger, and everyone was already anticipating the rebooted mutant version of the MCU. And of course we can hope that the quality of DCEU movies this year will surpass those movies, but if the marketing for wrath of the godswho didn’t even play a Super Bowl commercial is an indication of what we can expect for the rest of 2023, then it seems like WBD is already counting their losses and really just hoping Michael Keaton can return as Batman The Lightning to a billion.

There’s a lack of clarity as to how, if at all, these DCEU films relate to Gunn and co-boss Peter Safran’s DCU, and the wait-and-see approach might be the most logical, but it also doesn’t sell tickets. wrath of the gods was originally supposed to come out after that The Lightning, and Sandberg recently gave this as the reason for the costume changes in the film, which have now changed simply by magic. It’s not a big problem. But considering that The Lightning originally intended to lead to certain changes wrath of the gods And Aquaman and the Lost Kingdomwith cameos relating to these events now deleted, it feels like the issues of a comic book event have been jumbled and pages removed.

Similar, The Lightning, the next film set to be released, is designed to close out the DCEU and build the DCU. And that would be fine if it wasn’t immediately followed by Blue Beetlewhich is about to start a new franchise and which Aquaman Sequel, which should be the second chapter of a trilogy. Oh, and by the way, Jason Momoa will likely play a different character in the DCU, but according to Peter Safran, he won’t be playing two different characters, contradicting Momoa’s statement that he will always be Aquaman. So what we have is the ending of a cinematic universe and a new one being born at the same time, possibly using parts of one ending if it seems financially viable, which is too complicated a crisis even for comic book enthusiasts.

It would be great if these 2023 DC movies were successful both financially and critically, and maybe wrath of the gods will surpass predictions and show that audiences are still invested in these films despite a reboot in the wings. But I think there needs to be some clarity as to where these franchises stand in relation to the DCU. If the plan is to end them here within the confines of the DCEU, then I think the audience deserves definitive conclusions and a meaningful transition, such as: The Lightning to be a true finale and lead to a reboot, rather than DCEU ending with an Aquaman sequel that opens up a third installment that the studio doesn’t actually plan to do. Whether you’re excited for the DCU or not, I think the actors and filmmakers who contributed to a decade of storytelling in the DCEU deserve at least clarity and dignity in delivering this final chapter.

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