The State of the DCEU
A Reddit user claiming to have inside knowledge of the goings on at Warner Bros. posted that executives have cancelled the DCEU because they’re mad at themselves over Justice League’s alleged poor box office performance.
Completely ignore that user on this post and every other post they make, because it’s total garbage.
This has prompted me to address the current state of the DCEU.
Warner Bros. is not planning to cancel the DCEU, nor should it.
The first thing any studio cares about is financial success. The DCEU movies have not been box office failures; in fact, the exact opposite is true. The first three DCEU films, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad grossed over $2 billion. It took the MCU (extremely successful by any standards) five movies to reach that point. Wonder Woman put the DCEU over $3 billion in gross profits at the box office and Justice League will push that number close to $4 billion. Let’s wait and see what the final numbers are.
Besides, Batman v. Superman, what people call the biggest box office flop, grossed almost $900 million itself. Well, $873 million to be exact. Since when is $873 million a box office failure? Because it didn’t reach $1 billion? And that was against the backdrop of extremely negative critical reviews. I don’t think people realize exactly how much $1 billion is; there was a time when that number was almost unheard of for any movie. It’s an unfair standard to hold any film to.
The other important factor in determining a franchise’s future is audience reaction, and with a comic book property, this especially means the approval of your diehard fans. Fans who’ve seen Justice League have given it a B+ to A- rating, which is certainly very good if not great (more on that range later). I personally know numerous people who have either seen the film twice already or plan to see it again.
Take the Rotten Tomatoes score with many grains of salt, but let’s put it in perspective. As of this writing, the critic score on Rotten Tomatoes is just 39%, unfathomably low. The audience score? A highly respectable 86%. The fans of the franchise are more than satisfied with the product they’re receiving. And that’s way more important than critical reactions, because the fans are the ones who shell out money to go to the theater and buy the Blu-Rays.
Further evidence that the audience opinion is more important is merchandise sales. In 2016, consumers spent $4.5 billion in DC comics-related merchandise. That wasn’t all from just the comic books; the movies and TV shows have contributed greatly.
Other than Wonder Woman, the DCEU movies have had production issues, that’s true. From rewrites to reshoots to studio interference, the production process hasn’t been smooth. This is a problem that needs to be rectified going forward. Yes, the entire creative and production teams still seem to be finding their way, but that only bodes well for the future. There are too many smart and talented people involved in the DC films to think this won’t improve. And when it does, look out.
Let’s go back to the range of audience grading I mentioned earlier of B+ to A-. The B+ rating was from male viewers and the A- rating was from female viewers. DC is nailing it with their female audience. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman certainly has a lot to do it. Though Marvel had a five-year head start, DC has beaten them to the punch on their first solo female film. But other supporting female DC characters like Lois Lane and Mera are getting positive reactions as well. DC is leading the field with female viewers.
Fans also strongly enjoy the Flash and Aquaman as brought to life by Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa. They both have solo films on the horizon. In the coming years we’ll see Man of Steel 2, Wonder Woman 2 and The Batman. There are currently nine DCEU films in development, and there’s every reason to believe those films will continue.
Will we get a Justice League sequel? I believe it’s likely, though there’s no timeline for it. Fans will never forgive the franchise if they don’t eventually bring Darkseid into the fray. The best move DC can make is to continue to develop the characters through their own solo films and build toward Justice League 2.
Everyone is talking about the DCEU right now. Good or bad, for or against, any commentary is positive. If people weren’t vehemently debating the value of the franchise, it would mean that people don’t care. It would simply fall by the wayside. But people do care. Even those fans that may not be in love with every movie DC has put out, care. Fair or unfair, the naysaying critics have united the diehards in rallying around their favorite fandom.
Only five films in, the DCEU is still young. And youth means there’s plenty of room to grow, whereas their top competitor may be hitting its peak. While Marvel may be entering a phase without their top-tier characters, DC should be able to dominate in the name recognition of its heroes going forward. This presents an enormous opportunity.
The state of the DCEU is strong and will only continue to get stronger.