We’re now less than a month away from the much anticipated release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC and Warner Brothers’ latest foray into the superhero movie genre. Pre-release chatter remains divided and the recent announcement of an R-rated cut of the film to be released when the film comes to the home market has some fans wondering if the studio is scrambling to piggyback on the recent success of Deadpool. With a superpowered advertising blitz behind it and an audience of the DC faithful eager to see the publisher’s titans tussle, the film will likely do well. The question is, will it do well enough? DC’s movie track record as of late has been less than perfect. Even the title makes it clear that this film is intended to launch a DC cinematic universe to rival Marvel’s, which means both strong box office and positive audience reactions are even more crucial than usual. So what do DC’s biggest stars have riding on the success or failure of Batman v. Superman?
Batman: Virtually Nothing
The main thing that the film’s performance will determine for the Dark Knight is who will be playing him come the next Batman film: whether Ben Affleck is the next Christian Bale or the next George Clooney. Whether there will be another Batman movie is not in question. Batman has proven himself as a media mainstay. Yes, he was out of theaters for a while after the cinematic apocalypse that was Batman and Robin, but he came back and it wasn’t a huge surprise when he did, either. While the aforementioned garbage movie shows that Batman is not totally idiot proof, he is unusually flexible. He can be a kid friendly, incorruptible do-gooder, a deeply flawed and tormented vigilante, or anything in between, and still be accepted as Batman. And he’s had enough success that when there is a flop, studio execs and media press alike conclude that there is something wrong with the individual production rather than something wrong with Batman. If you don’t like a current film or TV portrayal of the Caped Crusader, you just have to wait until the next one comes along. Because there’s always going to be a next one.
Superman: Quite A Lot
Bruce Wayne may be set for life as far as a movie career, but his sometimes ally, sometimes rival Clark Kent is in a very different boat. While both DC and Warner Brothers seem confident that there’s nothing wrong with Batman, quite a few fans have started to suspect that the media giant feels there is something fundamentally wrong with Superman. Much has already been written about how various modern versions of Superman treat the character and his ideals as idealistic, naive throwbacks that aren’t up to facing the real world problems of today. (This isn’t the case with every current version of Superman, but is shows up often enough to start looking like a pattern.) So I won’t go into it. From a movie standpoint alone, neither Superman Return nor Man of Steel became the DC cinematic universe tentpole that WB was hoping for. Superman has brand recognition out the wazoo, but he doesn’t wear his issues on his sleeve the way Batman does and that makes him tougher to get right. The two co-headlining this flick isn’t coming from a place of strength for Supes. He needs Batman to help him put butts in seats. If he’s going to stand on his own again, he needs to prove himself here.
Wonder Woman: Pretty Much Everything
Wonder Woman is not the only other big DC character in Batman v. Superman. In fact, one of my main concerns about the film is that it might be too crowded. But while characters like Aquaman – who gets treated like a joke in pop culture – and Doomsday – who is all but unknown to the average moviegoer – have everything to gain and almost nothing to lose from this film, Wonder Woman’s entire film and TV future may depend on it. Batman is firmly established as an evergreen character with multiple successful films to his name. Superman almost exists outside of any particular movie or story, more of a symbol than a character. Wonder Woman? Well, Wonder Woman is in nearly the same position that Batman was before the first Burton film came out. Ask the average person who doesn’t follow comics and related animated TV shows about Wonder Woman and they’re probably thinking of this:
All due love and respect to Lynda Carter, but this is still a roughly 40 year old TV series. Multiple attempts to produce a new show or movie starring the Amazon princess have been shelved. WB finally seems ready to commit to making Wonder Woman the third major player in its movie DCU, with a film of her own slated for release next year. But for now, she’s still a guest star in Batman and Superman’s movie and a lot still depends on whether moviegoers come out of the theater wanting to see more of her. On top of that, the 2017 movie will be the first of the current era of superhero films with a lady in the lead. How well it does could potentially determine whether both WB and Disney decide to greenlight more movies starring super ladies or not. Either way, the pride of Themyscira has a lot on her shoulders in her modern movie debut.
Are you looking forward to seeing DC’s big three on the big screen? Do you think DC can get their move universe going? Share your thoughts on all things DC movies in the comments.