Growing up I was exposed to the DC universe long before I received my first Marvel Comic book. DC was ruling the broadcast media with movies featuring iconic heroes like Superman and Batman. Television and cable showcased other DC heroes in an animated format.
Truth be told, one of my favorite shows at the time was the cartoon Challenge of the Superfriends (an early rendition of the Justice League). My brothers and me would eager await the show time and sit in front of the television mesmerized by the story. We watched that TV show through all its transformations until its last version (the Super Powers theme). These shows were huge audience draws and DC heroes (and all related merchandise) were associated with success.
So why nowadays does anything DC movie related in a word “sucks?”
This writer wants to point out that DC is doing fine with its television shows. The CW network does an excellent job with the shows the Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. In fact, thanks to the TV shows other DC characters such as Captain Steel, Vixen and Jesse Quick have gained recognition. But why is it on the movie front (with the exception of Wonder Woman) are their movies not on a par with their TV shows?
The answer is simple. The writers of the movies have forgotten one thing…..heroes are the good guys – and generally speaking heroes are supposed to make you feel good. That is because heroes are symbols and icons for what we believe is right. Heroes are supposed to embody the best characteristics of our humanity and not the worst.
Sometime in the late 80’s early 90’s comic book writers tended to write their characters darker and gloomy. This was because the concept of the anti-hero was on the rise. Because of this notion, comics became more interesting for the readers – that is, the darker the hero the more interesting he or she became. Comics were then relaunched with these darker themes and the rest as we comic book nerds know is history. This appears to be the trend that the movie writers of DC and Warner Bros today are trying to portray. The darker half of our heroes and it is this model of the anti-hero, in my opinion, is what is causing DC to fail miserably at the cinemas.
Let us compare shall we? Henry Cavil’s Superman is nothing like the Christopher Reeve version. He is mean, non-trusting and is capable of killing. Not at all what you would expect of a sentinel of liberty who is supposed to represent truth, justice and the american way….
Ben Affleck’s Batman has a similar dark personality plus he uses guns! In fact, it was his mission to kill Superman based on a misunderstanding!!! Did Micheal Keaton or Christopher Nolan’s Batman ever portray so dark a character or use a gun as a weapon?
Hence the difference between the two incarnations is that the earlier versions of the characters were not set with an anti-hero theme.
Perhaps this is why the Wonder woman movie was such a success (Gal Gadot’s story did not have a negative theme to it). Or why the CW is doing a great job with the DC hero shows. Their theme does not denote any darker personality plots.
It could be argued that the movies are being done in haste. This is most evident when you watch the Justice League Movie (There are just way too many plots integrated into the storyline). However if you analyze all the movies that have been released by DC, the anti-hero theme is dominant.
Hopefully the writers of the DC movies have learned their lesson from their hit movie Wonder Woman and will decide to rewrite their scripts accordingly.