For the last decade, Marvel has basically owned the cinema landscape. Since the release of Iron Man, they have never left the top 10 highest grossing films list of each year, the only exception being in 2009 when they didn’t release a film (remember when there was a year that didn’t have a Marvel film? Memories). In all that time they have proven to dominate the cultural conversation around movies, and recently they even added an Oscar to the collection of things they pulled off. But there is one thing that they didn’t pull off yet, that their competitor DC just pulled off with Shazam! and I’m in the mood to talk about that. The catch is, in order to talk about it I have to spoil a few things so if you haven’t seen Shazam! then be warned, I’m spoiling a lot of major moments that you’re going to want to see so this is where you abandon this editorial discussion and go see the film, then come back because I require validation.
Released: 4th April
Seen: 4th April
I’ve previously talked on this blog about how nervous I get walking into DC films. After their attempt at an expanded universe netted exactly one good film (Wonder Woman, for the record) and got them a resounding box office failure with their massive team-up film… let’s just say that I get nervous when I walk into these things. Then Aquaman happened and it was above any expectation. I dare say that I should’ve probably given it an even 4 out of 5 now that I look back on it because it was a genuinely fun playful movie that understood that the material was not meant to be dark and so it didn’t bother being pointlessly grim. With the advertisements for Shazam! I was admittedly a little more excited, there was a brighter tone that excited me and made me hopeful that they were going to get this right… oh my god, oh my god you guys!
Released: 26th December
Seen: 26th December
DC has really had something of a bad time with their attempt at a cinematic universe. While the hardcore DC fan base have enjoyed the films so far, with general audiences they’ve been critically panned and have such a horrible reputation that the massive team up movie Justice League is the worst performing film in the franchise. That’s almost impossible to contemplate, the film where every major DC superhero was meant to team up in an event that we have been building too for four movies and it didn’t make as much money as Suicide Squad. The audience is effectively done with what the DC universe is offering now. There were serious talks for a while that the upcoming Flashpoint movie might be used just to try and erase the entire franchise and start again from scratch, it’s not looking good for the DCEU who not only have a failing franchise on their hands that can barely bring them a return on investment, but the franchise is now so far behind the juggernaut MCU that it seems unlikely they’ll ever catch up. For this franchise to still have legs it needs this film to be good. All they had to do was make something that didn’t hurt to watch and they might actually put themselves on the right track… and oh thank god they pulled it off.
Released: 13th September (Australia)
Seen: 8th September (Advance Screening… in Australia, I know the movie’s been out everywhere else for months)
With the recent release of Justice League, DC has proven what a lot of film fans have known for a long time… they aren’t that good at this cinematic universe thing. They’re actually pretty bad at it, they’re not quite at Dark Universe levels but they’re certainly not the gold standard that they want to be. They want to be Marvel, they want to be able to throw out Movie after Movie after Movie and get critical praise out the wazoo for every single one but they can’t, and they won’t until they learn the lessons that Marvel got right from the start. Lesson’s I’ll now just state explicitly so DC can copy my notes and pass this cinematic class.
NOTE: I’m spoiling stuff for Justice League, Batman V Superman, Civil War, The Avengers 1&2, Agents of Shield and Buffy the Vampire Slayer… it’ll make sense soon.
Also, tiny bit rusty at these so apologies if it’s not good.