Solo Films Could Be The DCEU’s Greatest Strength

6 min


Well, it’s official. I can finally say it, guys. Aquaman is officially going to come out this year and I couldn’t be more excited as someone who definitely enjoyed Jason Momoa’s performance in Justice League which got me thinking about the DC Extended Universe as a whole.

As of late, the franchise has largely taken flack for all of the behind-the-scenes trouble that has surrounded nearly every film in the franchise excluding Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel which got me thinking about the franchise as a whole and how to actually win back people’s goodwill in a post-Justice League world and the future of the franchise is uncertain.

If Warner Brothers has the intentions of winning back the public trust and goodwill then they need to take a look at the two films in the franchise that were largely profitable and mostly critically well-received, Man of Steel and Wonder Woman. Currently, Man of Steel has a 55% rating from critics and a 75% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Obviously 55% on the site is technically “rotten” on the site but it only takes 60% to get fresh on the site which means that for the most part critics didn’t fully hate it or view it in the same way that they did Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad. The same is largely applicable for the audience who generally found the Superman reboot to be enjoyable and a much stronger film compared to later installments. Same goes for Wonder Woman, which is the highest rated DC Extended Universe production. It currently sits at a 92% critical score and an 88% which means that as a whole it was not a polarizing film and most people enjoyed it despite whatever problems that it may have had. They were also on of the most profitable films since Wonder Woman broke box office records left and right last year and is the highest-grossing superhero origin film in cinematic history. Now what exactly am I getting at here? Well, it’s quite simple. Solo films have been an untapped resource in the franchise that could prove to be it’s greatest strength and a way to win back the goodwill of the audience and actually hold on to that positive critical response for more than one movie. It would be best for Warner Brothers to exploit this in a positive way starting with Aquaman. 

Before we had the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we largely had solo superhero outings such as Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, and Blade. These were truly historic films that we grew up watching again and again on DVD because they had a lot of fun, iconic, and memorable moments that kept you invested from start to finish. They spent every minute of their hour to two hour runs trying to tell us a good story, build the characters, and did nothing else. They weren’t trying to serve as a commercial and set up for Avengers 3000: Electric Boogaloo like a lot of comic book movies do today. They were self-contained. Granted, I do appreciate films like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Justice League despite it being a largely bad film with some good moments and a great cast but that can get boring at times if all we are starting to get is a bunch of over-hyped team films that never fully build up some of the characters to be what they should be since they largely serve as the pilot to set up for another film.

They are literally films to set up for other films. Wonder Woman, however, was a diamond in the rough. It truly was self-contained compared to other “solo” superhero outings like those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It hardly referenced the events of prior films and wasn’t building to a sequel or an overall event like what other comic book movies have done as of late. Something that I and the audience welcomed with open arms since we did miss it a lot more than we realized and would love to see more of in the future. With this in mind it’s clear Warner Brothers has the upper hand to cure any potential “superhero movie fatigue” by doing something refresh while going back to the drawing board but for some reason can’t or will not use it.

In a little more detail here is how I would expect Warner Brothers to exploit the strength of the solo superhero film the way I see it. As I said previously, starting with Aquaman it needs to be made clear that “solo films” will be the biggest priority in the DC Extended Universe and they will be the ones that will have the most power behind them as far as money and manpower goes for the franchise. At least until they can find a way to produce proper build-up towards a full on team dynamic that feels earned which was a problem for the Justice League and Suicide Squad.  The next step after that is to scrap Flashpoint since it’s too big of a concept for the first solo Flash movie in which the character is still going to have to learn to be a superhero and balance his new job as a crime scene investigator. Stop messing around and find an actual noteworthy director, scrap it, and then re-work it to be called The Scarlet Speedster (or something along the lines of that) and have it be a simple story that borrows it’s themes and tone from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Do this with several other films that should be scrapped like Gotham City Sirens and Suicide Squad 2 and then rigorously screen and evaluate the scripts of every solo film and if they’re not to an actual high standard then scrap them and start over. Let the process take as long as it needs to. As much as I enjoy Ben Affleck’s Batman and would hate to see him go since I know it would hurt the franchise to lose a fan favorite but it’s maybe time to let him go so he can sort out his personal life instead of being a depressing liability since he clearly hasn’t come off as someone invested in the role anymore. Pass the torch to an actor who is talented and around the same age. Oh, and perhaps give Geoff Johns more than just an advisory role since he’s gotten an in-depth understanding of all of these DC characters since he’s written comics about pretty much all of them.  He’s proven that he is the man who should be steering the ship of this universe for it’s solo outings as he has done wonders for correcting the mistakes made with the comics after the New 52 and knows how to write a film since he worked under Richard Donner. Let us not forget that he has written numerous episodes of Smallville and The Flash, both of which have been able to please both fans and critics alike.

I guarantee you that if half of this stuff happened nobody would be complaining. Fans and critics alike are a lot more simple than Warner Brothers executives think. We don’t ask much except for a good movie!

What do you think of these thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!


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Simeone Miller
Simeone has been involved in popular culture journalism since early 2015 as the co-founder of the highly successful Up Your Geek news organization. He specializes in covering DC, Marvel, cinema, and gaming. He is a political science major minoring in sociology and plans to be a lawyer.