10 Ways DC Can Make Batman V Superman GreatPublished on November 7, 2014.
Marvel is the undisputed king of blockbuster films franchises right now, so it’s no surprise that DC Comics, its chief rival, wants in on the action too. DC and its parent company Warner Bros. recently announced an ambitious slate of films up to 2020, including no less than 2 Justice League films. DC is hedging all of its bets of their opening salvo in the superhero arms race, 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. While much of the film still remains a mystery, it is known that this film will not only feature Batman and Superman, but will also set up an expanded universe of DC heroes, much like Marvel has done. DC needs this film to be an absolute success and here are 10 things that could help make that happen.
10. Change the Title
This is both the easiest and most trivial change DC can make. The film’s title, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is simply a bad film title and really should be changed. It’s bad enough that the central conflict of the film will be Batman and Superman fighting each other (an issue that will be touched on later in this list) but for some strange reason, the decision was made to use “v” for versus instead of the more traditional “vs”. If that wasn’t bad enough, the film’s subtitle is “Dawn of Justice”, which might just be the cheesiest and most obvious way of telling audiences that the film will be a precursor to the formation of the Justice League, the DC universe’s version of The Avengers. DC should go back to the drawing board on this one.
9. Add Color
There have been a limited number images and one teaser video released for Batman v Superman so far and they all share the same oversaturated color palette. Now, these images are fitting with director Zack Snyder’s usual visual aesthetic of muted colors, but DC shouldn’t be afraid to add some pop to its new superhero universe. DC has pretty much come out and said that they want their film universe to be darker than what Marvel is offering but that doesn’t mean they can’t make these movies fun too. Adding some visual flare would help contrast the somber tone of the film’s plot. Superman and Wonder Woman’s costumes need to be spruced up and made to look more like their comic counterparts (Batman’s costume gets better the darker it gets but his is the exception).
8. Lose the Bat-Rasp
Selecting Ben Affleck to play the newest incarnation of Batman was a controversial move to say the least. While it remains to be seen whether Affleck was an inspired choice to fill the legendary cowl, one improvement that could help right away is for Affleck to ditch the so-called “bat-rasp” voice that Christian Bale made infamous with his turn as the Dark Knight. What was supposed to be a tool of intimidation quickly turned into a ridiculed punchline in many internet memes and videos. If Affleck can voice the character with the right amount of menace without dipping into the corniness of Bale’s performance, he will at least avoid the derision that has started to overshadow Bale’s otherwise excellent performance.
7. Don’t Just Copy Marvel…
DC is trying to play catch-up with Marvel, who have a ridiculously long head-start in building a shared movie universe for its characters. Marvel has a proven, successful model for its films and DC is eager to replicate that model. Unfortunately, it feels like every other film studio is trying to copy Marvel’s template of world-building as well, from the obvious (Sony and the Spider-Man property) to the ridiculous (horror movie The Conjuring and its Annabelle spin-off). Having films that are interconnected is very popular right now, but filmgoers can be fickle and they may soon grow weary of everyone copying what Marvel’s doing. DC would do well to pull off some sort of twist that differentiates them from Marvel, instead of just playing 2nd fiddle by being pale imitators and copycats.
6. But… Steal when it Makes Sense
Building off the last point, it’s absolutely necessary for DC to crib what they can from Marvel because they’re the dominant force in Hollywood right now. As already discussed, DC is using Batman v Superman as a launching point for a shared universe of superheroes much like Marvel is doing. It’s a proven model and DC does the same thing in their comic universe, so it makes sense to do it with their film business as well. DC would also do well to copy Marvel’s tactic of hiring dynamic creative talent for their different films. Zack Snyder is the primary visionary behind the lens of many of DC’s biggest upcoming movies, but it would be great if DC could add some diversity to the talent pool so that their films don’t all feel the same.
5. Add Some Humor
In late August 2014, it was reported by many different film sites that DC was mandating a strict “no humor” policy for their films in development. Now, it’s been pretty obvious from promotional materials that DC wants to go in a mature, dark direction with their Superhero movies, which is a great plan…to a point. DC’s mandate is ridiculous because it implies that it’s impossible to make a mature, dark movie with any form of humor in it, which any casual filmgoer could tell is simply not true. There is no reason Batman v Superman and the films that follow it can’t break up the tension with the occasional joke. Darker toned genre movies like The Empire Strikes Back still find time to fit a joke in every now and then, and there’s no reason DC can’t do the same.
4. Keep the Batman vs. Superman Parts to a Minimum
Director Zack Snyder and lead writer David Goyer haven’t been shy in admitting that much of the inspiration for Batman v Superman comes from Frank Miller’s award-winning 1986 graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns. In that story, an older, seasoned Batman comes to blows with Superman and ends up winning with the use of various weapons and techniques, as well as plot conveniences that see Superman in a weakened state. While it was cool to see the two heroes fight each other, the scene was wisely kept relatively brief and so should the on-screen battle in the new film. Anyone familiar with the characters knows that it’s ridiculous to expect an even fight between the two, given Superman’s vast array of powers and superhuman strength. Hopefully, Snyder and Goyer are aware of this issue and keep the fight between the two epic and brief, rather than drawn-out and ridiculous.
3. Don’t Forget Supporting Players
The film may only bear Batman and Superman’s names in the title, but there are at least 3 other confirmed heroes appearing in the film, with more rumored. Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg are all confirmed to appear in the movie. In addition, rumors are indicating that Jena Malone is set to appear as a female Robin. There is a danger of overcrowding the movie with characters that won’t receive the necessary development to justify their use in the film. A few of these characters (particularly Aquaman and Cyborg) are likely to be featured as little more than glorified cameos, but it would be nice to see them given something to do. If these characters can endear themselves to viewers with limited screen-time, it will pay off down the road for DC because people will want to see more of them.
2. Make Wonder Woman the Standout
Building off the last point, it bears repeating that Batman v Superman marks the first big screen appearance of the most universally recognized female superhero of all time, Wonder Woman. As such, the filmmakers have a responsibility to portray the character with as much reverence and respect as possible. Wonder Woman should absolutely steal the show and be everyone’s favourite character in the movie. Batman and Superman are proven entities and have many individual films to their credit. Wonder Woman, in contrast, is making her debut in a film that doesn’t even bear her name in the title. On the outside, this feels like a poor way of honoring such a significant character. However, if Snyder and co. can make Wonder Woman the equal of, or even surpass the men in the film’s title, they will at least have done the character justice on screen.
1. Improve Dramatically on Man of Steel
Batman v Superman is a direct sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel and will likely be very similar in tone and style because it shares the same creative team in Snyder and Goyer. While that film took Superman in a bold, interesting new direction, it also had a slew of problems that should not be repeated in the new film. Man of Steel’s main issues were that it was over-serious and drab. Superman didn’t act very heroic, essentially forgetting that his actions likely caused the deaths of thousands of innocent bystanders. Batman and Superman need to be more self-aware in their upcoming movie and they need to put others before themselves. Hopefully, Snyder and Goyer listened to the criticisms they received on Man of Steel and hit it out of the park with Batman v Superman in 2016 – DC’s future in the movie business is depending on it.