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To date, there has been a very noticeable difference in tone between the movies for the DC Extended Universe and most of the titles that make of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the latter have made big bucks with fun adventures and big laughs, the former franchise has been more focused on trying to get darker, grittier tones to enhance its epic characters. This sharp contrast has existed for three years, but you can expect that to change greatly in the coming years, as DC Comics and Warner Bros. are easing off of the "darkness" acceleration pedal.
Wall Street Journal recently had the opportunity to sit down with some of the big names behind the developing DC Cinematic Universe, and a key part of the conversation was the disappointing results generated by Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad. As a result of bad reviews and word of mouth, the franchise will be changing course going forward, as DC Comics President and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns believes that a misperception of the comic book company's characters on the studio's behalf has ill-defined the key heroes on the big screen recently. Said Johns,
Mistakenly in the past I think the studio has said, 'Oh, DC films are gritty and dark and that's what makes them different.' That couldn't be more wrong. It's a hopeful and optimistic view of life. Even Batman has a glimmer of that in him. If he didn't think he'd make tomorrow better, he'd stop.
This was something that Geoff Johns addressed artistically in the form of the "DC Universe Rebirth" reboot comic that was released earlier this year. It was interpreted by many that it was potentially signaling a brighter future for DC Comics characters, and these new quotes confirm that will extend to the big screen adaptations as well.
Recognizing fan complaints about Henry Cavill's Superman never smiling and Ben Affleck's Batman killing people, the idea going forward is to start changing things up tonally -- and that begins with the huge blockbuster that is currently in the midst of production: director Zack Snyder's Justice League. Recognizing the negative response received by the grim Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Snyder and screenwriter Chris Terrio worked to change the pacing of their 2017 blockbuster in order to try and get to the more up-beat material faster. Producer Jon Berg told the newspaper,
We accelerated the story [in Justice League] to get to the hope and optimism a little faster.
Provided that these tonal changes wind up improving things for the DC Extended Universe, we can assume that it will affect all of the projects going forward -- including James Wan's Aquaman, Rick Famuyiwa's Flash, Cyborg, Shazam, Green Lantern Corps, Ben Affleck's untitled Batman solo movie and Man of Steel 2. What we don't know, however, is how all of this will affect director Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, which is set to be the next DCEU movie released, preceding Justice League in 2017. Will it fall more in line with the darkness of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Or perhaps it already has a more optimistic bent to it that will help ease DC fans into the lighter tone moving forward. We'll find out when the movie comes out June 2, 2017.