Opinion: Ashley looks ahead to the future of the DCEU

The Story Geeks blogger Ashley Pauls responds with an additional perspective to the same topic discussed in this week’s podcast – the future of the DCEU. Want to share your own take? Join the conversation in The Story Geeks Facebook group!

There’s already been plenty of commentary and debate surrounding the evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe — and how they compare to each other in terms of quality and success.

Personally, I don’t really get into the Marvel vs. DC debate anymore. While overall, the MCU has had a stronger record in terms of box office and critical success, at the end of the day I just like seeing superhero movies, and I want both franchises to succeed.

After “Justice League,” I was a little worried about the future of the DCEU. I’m a “Batman v. Superman” apologist, but “Justice League” deeply disappointed me. I feared the franchise might fizzle out after “Justice League” under-performed.

Thankfully, “Aquaman” and “Shazam” made me feel more confident about the DCEU going forward. “Aquaman” was flawed but very entertaining, and I’m really surprised “Shazam” didn’t make more money at the box office, because it’s a great little film. Right now, the DCEU is actually in a pretty good place, and I’m excited to see what comes next.

Here are my top three hopes for the DCEU in the next couple years and beyond:

1. Don’t panic and try to copy the Marvel formula

I love the MCU. It’s given us a lot of great films over the years and some of my favorite onscreen superheros. However, I don’t need or even want the DCEU to try to follow this same template.

I don’t need the DCEU to be this massive shared universe where all the story arcs tie together and there’s a big mashup with alllll the characters at the end. I love that “Aquaman,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Shazam” are completely different movies.

I’d like to see these heroes keep doing their own thing for a while; these movies don’t have to fit into the same tight canon restrictions or share the same tone. Let Aquaman continue to be this over-the-top, undersea fantasy adventure, while Shazam is more of a smaller-scale, quirky family comedy.

Maybe the DCEU movies won’t reach the same box office heights as the biggest MCU movies, but that’s okay. I personally don’t think we’re going to see “Endgame” levels of success in this genre again for a long, long time. But I’m still excited for some fun films involving individual superheroes or smaller team-ups, like maybe Wonder Woman and Batman sharing a movie together. (Although sadly, it looks like a Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck Wonder Woman/Batman film is a dream I’ll have to let go of.)

As the MCU veers into uncharted waters after “Endgame,” now is a great time for the DCEU to carve out its own niche and tell stories through its own unique lens.

2. Continue to build on ‘Wonder Woman’s’ strengths

As part of the Story Geeks “best DCEU film” Nerdfight, I wrote about how “Wonder Woman” was one of my all-time favorite movies. So naturally, I’m really excited for the sequel!

The Wonder Woman character resonated with a lot of fans, and I’m really curious how she’ll continue to develop in next year’s “Wonder Woman 1984.”

It is a little odd that we’ve been jumping around in Wonder Woman’s timeline. We meet her in the present in “Batman v. Superman,” then we jump back in time to World War I for “Wonder Woman,” then forward in time again for “Justice League,” and now back to the 1980s for the upcoming sequel.

While all this jumping around makes having a standard character arc a little tricky, I completely trust Patty Jenkins to do right by this character once again and to find an interesting story to tell. I have no idea how Steve Trevor managed to come back after presumably dying in “Wonder Woman,” but I loved Chris Pine so much in that role I’m not going to offer a single complaint.

I’m getting more and more excited for “Birds of Prey” next year as well. I’m definitely down for a female anti-hero team-up because it’s something we haven’t really seen in a superhero film before.

Even though I didn’t like “Suicide Squad” and I’m not really a fan of the Harley Quinn/Joker dynamic, I thought Margot Robbie was great in “Suicide Squad” and I’m glad she’ll get a chance to shine on her own.

3. A new Batman begins…

I never would have thought to cast Robert Pattinson as Batman, but I’m really excited for this casting choice, precisely because it is so unexpected.

I admire films that take chances and are willing to try something outside the box. I’m sad to see Pattinson already being bullied online, and I am withholding all judgement on this casting until I see official footage. I don’t know how Pattinson will play Batman/Bruce Wayne, but I’m super curious to find out.

I loved director Matt Reeves’ Planet of the Apes reboot movies, and the nuance he brought to that franchise should apply well to a Batman film. I’m hoping he skips the origin story, because we’ve seen that plenty of times already and general audiences are familiar with it.

Instead, I’d like to see him dive deep into Pattinson struggling to live a double life and trying to balance being Batman and Bruce Wayne. It would also be cool to see him interacting with a villain we haven’t seen in a while (no more Joker for a few years, please!).

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