With the release of Todd Phillip’s highly anticipated Joker, Fancy Boys David Vox Mullen & Matt Drufke decided to go back and take a peak at what the Detective Comics Films Universe (DCFU) has given us in the last six years. These films have had mixed results, both in the box office and in critical acclaim. The boys roll up their sleeves, straighten their capes, and dive in.
Man Of Steel (2013)
Director: Zach Snyder
Box Office: $668 Million
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 56%
Vox says: Superman Returns (AGAIN) this time with Henry Cavill stepping up to play Kal-El and I will admit when I first went to see the film I just thought it was ok. I was a little sad that it had such a dark tone to it. While the dark noir feel works perfectly for characters like Batman up against the backdrop of Gotham, I was a little disappointed in what seems to be a missed opportunity for the vibrant colors of Smallville and Metropolis. I did however enjoy the overall telling of the interesting take on Jonathan Kent’s desire for his adopted son to keep those powers hidden. I loved Michael Shannon’s General Zod and the depiction of the extinction of Krypton. Russel Crowe’s Jor-El was powerful and the best portrayal since Brando (which was really just Marlon Brando being Marlon Brando). The rest of the cast was great and I loved the special effects but just about everyone agreed that the end fight sequence was nothing than pure chaos and not the good kind..
Matt says: There’s so much good in this film. Michael Shannon is in it, being all Michael Shannon-y. Kevin Costner is playing a dad and doing all his great dad stuff. The cast is wonderful. But there’s something that when you add all of it up doesn’t make it feel that… well, super. Director Zack Snyder, who clearly gets off when he’s referred to as a “visionary”, does a lot of things well, especially adding a good deal of heft and emotion into the first half of the movie. Perhaps the best scene in all of the DCU to date is Diane Lane showing a young Clark Kent how not to get too overwhelmed. But the whole thing kind of falls apart at the end, and that doesn’t bode well for the DCU and what’s to come.
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016)
Director: Zack Snyder
Box Office: $873 Million
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%
Vox says: Here we go! This movie received so much heat! I actually enjoyed Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight himself. I think in the end Ben’s real life got in the way of these performances and in turn made it quite difficult to recover from. He had the look, he definitely understood the character and he is a damned Oscar winning writer, director and actor so why on earth didn’t this work? Sure the script was flawed and I would argue that in a post Nolan Universe people are kind of getting tired of the DARK Batman. (Hey, I still love Adam West’s “Bright Knight”). But the story is an attempt on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns so it kind of is what it is. But hey Gal Gadot is a pretty badass Wonder Woman (and that guitar theme is wicked). I for one personally never liked the conversation of who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman. They should never be fighting…period. (Did somebody say Martha?)
Matt says: ‘Tis time for us to enter the Batfleck. Let’s not beat around the bush: this is the worst fucking movie I saw in the movie theater all decade. This script is long and horrible, with Snyder’s idea of Batman being a guy who can take on Superman by using his two greatest weapons: xenophobia and crossfit. Jesse Eisenberg is terrible as Lex Luthor, playing him as someone with multiple mental health issues. Henry Cavill, who I think is a charming and engaging actor, doesn’t get the chance to be charming or engaging. Not enough action. Horrible dialogue. Too long. Too boring. Too many eye rolls. I’ve been told by some that I need to watch the director’s cut, but I can’t imagine my opinion will change by seeing A LONGER VERSION OF THIS NONSENSE. Boo on you, Zack Snyder. Boo on you.
Suicide Squad (2016)
Director: David Ayer
Box Office: $746 Million
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 27%
Vox says: Well, it made more than Man Of Steel. First, let’s talk soundtrack! The musical choices for this film saved it for me. The preview for this movie alone (released at SDCC the summer before) was absolutely orgasmic. Images and music flickered as gun handling and fight scenes synced up perfectly in time with the tune of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody performed by Panic! at the Disco. I was sold hook, line and sinker. Hey that doesn’t look like the Harley Quinn I know. Wait, ok Margot Robbie is pretty awesome. I would’ve loved this film had Joker been a little more developed. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Jared Leto’s choice as a modern take of the gangster esque’ version of The Joker but because it wasn’t given ample development on screen, I feel the character is completely lost. Will Smith was interesting as Floyd Lawton / Deadshot but it turns out, he won’t be reprising the role. Overall just a blah movie but I’m listening to Heathens by Twenty One Pilots right now.
Matt says: Y’know… this is fine. It’s not good. It is definitely not a good movie. Perhaps my expectations we so low after BvS that I just assumed this was going to be the worst thing ever. Honestly, everything in this movie is fine enough, but just not good enough to be interesting. The major cast members (Smith, Robbie, and Viola Davis) are fun to watch, but there’s just not enough around them to make this film worthwhile. However, here is the biggest problem with this film: If you are making a movie and you have a character called Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), then you should be watching him throw boomerangs which come back to him. Too often, the Captain throws shit that doesn’t come back to him or uses his boomerangs as knives. Never once in the film does a boomerang return to him. The film could never get past this major failing.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Director: Patty Jenkins
Box Office: $821 Million
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
Vox says: Now we’re talking. Arguably the BEST outing of the DCU thus far. The team of Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot bring us the mighty Amazonian demigod that is Wonder Woman. I absolutely loved this film. Loved, loved, loved it! The only drawback for this comic book fan was the choice to have the film set during the first World War as opposed to World War II because I would’ve loved to see the iconic image of Wonder Woman giving Hitler that knockout punch. Can’t wait for WW84!
Matt says: Ok, let’s get the bad out of the way… this film suffers from an unsatisfying third act and a pretty unconvincing villain (David Thewlis). That said, even those things can’t stop me from enjoying (and recommending) this movie. This is the first film we’ve talked about where the film seems actually interested in the hero as a person rather than the damage they can do with their powers. Gadot is both strong and likable, something that Cavill and Affleck were unable to portray. This is in part to a better script and a director willing to put in the work and focus on the humanity of the film. The film deserves a better ending, but for the first ninety minutes, it’s a fantastic ride.
Justice League (2017)
Director: Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon
Box Office: $657 Million
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 40%
Vox says: Swing and a miss! How many directors does it take to destroy what should be a joyous film. I fear Warner Brothers has completely cut off DC’s creative control. At this point, I would back any play for DC to get out from underneath the WB thumb. This film for me signaled the nail in the coffin in the current franchise. It’s time to reboot everything all over again. Well, can we keep Gal? Let’s just restart with Gal. Sound good? Ok cool!
Matt says: When Snyder left Justice League production to deal with the death of his daughter, Joss Whedon (who wrote and directed the first two films in Marvel’s Avengers franchises) stepped in to write and direct some additional scenes. Perhaps this is just my perception, but the film seems to have two different gears: a fun, interesting film that cares about it’s heroes, and a mindless film focused on punching. The interesting scenes show a movie which could have been funny and fun, but there’s not enough to carry this thing. Justice League has not enough diamonds and too much rough.
Director: James Wan
Box Office: $1.148 Billion
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66%
Vox says: Ok, starting to have a little more FUN with super heroes once again. Kal Drogo is Aquaman! Ok seriously, making this character cool is NOT an easy task but Jason Mamoa actually pulls it off. In Justice League it seemed a little forced, but now getting a cool origin story for Aquaman is Aqua-Awesome. Beautiful camera work, excellent fight scenes and Amber Heard as Mera was an unexpected choice and c’mon Willem Dafoe as Vulko? Forget about it!
Matt says: The appearance of Aquaman in Justice League showed us a new archetype: the frat boy superhero. Jason Mamoa is willing to do something new with Arthur Curry, and I commend his bold decision. This film was a lot more entertaining than I expected, mostly because Wan seems alright with letting Mamoa running around like a bull in a china shop. Like most DCU films, Aquaman has problems with pacing and structure, but this cast allows the film to have wheels and move. Sometimes, a film doesn’t have to be great… it just has to be fun.
Director: David F. Sandberg
Box Office: $365 Million
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Vox says: I think it’s safe to say that the problem with the DC Film Universe is Zach Snyder. This movie was literally nothing but FUN! Sure it’s a departure from the original Captain Marvel storyline but hey, it’s got TV’s CHUCK as Billy Batson! Seriously though, how much fun did Zachary Levi appear to be having playing SHAZAM? I want a sequel like NOW! I want The Rock as Black Adam like yesterday! I love that DC was finally able to make fun of themselves with the Batman and Superman gags. May the 7 wizards protect the realm of Magic!
Matt says: Much like Justice League, Shazam! feels like two movies with two very different tones. When the film is a broad comedy, it soars thanks to a silly performance by Levi and some really fun scriptwork. Unfortunately, this film tries to also have a heart that it never really finds and certainly doesn’t deserve. Too many supporting characters lead to a whole series of muddled exchanges, and Mark Strong is just another forgettable baddie in a long line of DCU baddies who don’t inspire any real interest. Had Shazam! just been a silly fun romp, it had the potential to be the best film on this list. As it stands, it’s just another ok film that had a lot of upside but just couldn’t deliver.
Joker comes out this Friday, October 4th.