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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been in theaters for nearly two weeks, but talk hasn’t died down about it. While a sizable chunk of comic book fans and some moviegoers like the second DCEU installment, the movie has earned more negative reviews than positive ones. Although Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman are the next DC movies coming up, Justice League: Part One begins production next week, with Zack Snyder directing again. This Justice League movie is essentially the direct follow-up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which means there’s a lot the November 2017 flick can learn from it.
Justice League: Part One is without a doubt DC’s biggest movie yet, which means there’s a lot riding on it succeeding. Mixed reviews aren’t going to cut it anymore. It needs to be spectacular if the current slate of DC movies is going to remain unchanged. To help out, these are the suggestions we have on how Justice League: Part One can improve from its predecessor, from tonal adjustments to how the heroes should interact.
Warning: spoilers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are ahead!
Less Dark, More FunLet’s get something out of the way: not every superhero movie needs to be lighthearted. There can definitely be dark elements infused in certain stories, and even makes for a refreshing change of pace. However, many will agree that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had a lot of depressing moments. While that may have worked for the story, Justice League: Part One would be wise to not go that dark again. This doesn’t mean that every scene should be peppered with jokes or one-liners, but it should least feel more optimistic. Remember, one of the hero wears the Kryptonian symbol for hope on his chest, and that’s something we want to feel. Fortunately, writer Chris Terrio has already said that Justice League: Part One will be "tonally not quite as dark," so moviegoers can expect something a little brighter, though still serious and thoughtful.
Fewer Easter EggsAlthough Man of Steel kicked off the DCEU in 2013, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had the responsibility of getting this universe’s history established and foreshadowing its future, especially concerning Justice League: Part One. The Easter Eggs ranged from the Darkseid hints to Lex Luthor’s footage of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg. These teases were undoubtedly fun for hardcore comic book fans, they sometimes felt separate from the main story, thus jolting moviegoers out of what was currently happening. It’d be crazy to think Justice League: Part One wouldn’t include a few Easter Eggs (including perhaps who the Justice League: Part Two villain might be), but there needs to be less of them and they need to feel more organic rather than forced. They can certainly tease something coming or refer back to the comics, but the priority is telling the main story.
No Major Clashes Between The Heroes2016 has been the year of superheroes fighting in movies and television. Daredevil vs. Punisher. Team Captain vs. Team Iron Man. Batman vs. Superman. In that last one’s case, those two didn’t even have to fight had they properly communicated with each other, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that we don’t need anymore big hero vs. hero fights in the DCEU. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any conflict on the team in Justice League: Part One, as there will surely be bickering and difference of opinion. Even the Avengers didn’t mesh right away when they banded together. What we don’t need is another all-out physical brawl between the heroes. The focus needs to be solely on them fighting the real bad guys(s). Heck, I’ll go so far as to say don’t let any of the heroes be mind-controlled so we can avoid such fights.
A More Faithful Main AntagonistLex Luthor remained a brilliant, scheming corporate mogul in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but if you look back at his most popular incarnations over the decades, Jesse Eisenberg’s iteration didn’t quite hit the mark, acting more unhinged than cold and calculating. Had he been an original character, this wouldn’t have been a problem, but compared to how he’s been depicted in the comics and other media, this Lex Luthor didn’t feel like like the real deal (and don’t use the "Jr." part as an excuse). Whoever ends up being Justice League: Part One’s main antagonist, be it Darkseid, Brainiac or someone else, they need to make sure said villain feels more faithful to their counterpart from the comics. Obviously creative liberties need to be taken when it comes to adapting characters for live action, whether that’s altering their appearance or tweaking their background. However, as long as they can remain true to the spirit of the original comic character, that’s what’s important. This didn’t work out great with Lex, but the next villain can have better luck.
Equal Amount Of Main Character AttentionJustice League: Part One features six heroes on the team, making it an ensemble piece. That makes it important that this movie doesn’t highlight just one hero and place the rest of them in supporting roles. Each protagonist needs to get enough time to shine during the story. This will especially be key for Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg, whose solo movies won’t arrive until 2018 and 2020. Aside from those cameos in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this will be their first exposure to a lot of casual moviegoers, to the creative team needs to highlight why these heroes are special. Because Batman will be going around the world to find these "metahumans," it may be unavoidable giving him more screen time, similar to how Iron Man had a slightly bigger profile than his costars in 2012’s The Avengers. As long as the movie doesn’t become Batman and his Justice League Pals, we should be fine.
Give Zack Snyder A Co-CollaboratorNot including 2009’s Watchmen, Zack Snyder has directed two DC Comics movies: Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The former opened to mixed reviews and the latter has earned even more of a polarizing reaction over the last several weeks. Despite speculation he would be replaced, Snyder is still directing Justice League: Part One, but at this point, he shouldn’t do it alone. While we wouldn’t suggest completely oust Snyder and his creative vision, it would be beneficial for Warner Bros to assign a second pair of eyes to work with him. Snyder is talented when it comes to visuals, but his storytelling talents need improvement, so having a co-collaborator to help out in this area would be a boon. Whether that’s producer George Miller (who was rumored to direct Man of Steel 2 at one point), DC Chief Entertainment Officer Geoff Johns or another bigwig, someone needs to be by Snyder’s side offering suggestions and critiques to make sure Justice League: Part One is the best it can be.