When a movie series makes a shift into darker territory, the common thing to do is make a comparison to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It's a transition that the majority of movie fans will understand. However, when your movie was already as dark as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, then perhaps the thing to do is to compare your next movie to the film that brought light back into the series. Second unit director on Dawn of Justice Damon Caro says that if the last movie was their Empire then Justice League, is their Return of the Jedi.
Justice League was always the rebirth of hope and the rise. People try to say that it's a response to the backlash, and I'd definitely say that criticisms were heard, but it's not like we threw everything out and started with a blank slate. It's a bit like Star Wars. Empire Strikes Back? Dark movie! But then Return of the Jedi is the rise and the rebuilding of hope.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was criticized by many for its overall darkness and while Damon Caro says that this reaction was clearly understood, the fact that Justice League is a lighter movie is not a direct response to that, because the plan always was for Justice League to be a lighter movie. To some extent, we have to assume his comments to Heroic Hollywood are accurate. Justice League started filming very shortly after Dawn of Justice hit theaters.It would have been impossible for them to truly throw everything out and start fresh and still begin filming on time.
The comparison certainly works within the context of the movie. Batman clearly had little faith in other people at the beginning of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but Superman's sacrifice inspired him and changed his perspective. This leads him to go looking for more heroes to help him defend the planet. This should be a more hopeful film, as there will be some belief that the heroes can overcome the threat.
Of course, Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi had the added benefit of being the end of a trilogy. Part of that hopefulness came from the simple fact that the good guys won and the fight was over by the end. This is the beginning of the DC Extended Universe and we know that the fight that starts in Justice League isn't going to end there. Using the movie to begin rebuilding hope is a nice idea, but it might be difficult to pull off if the movie plans to leave itself open for the coming of even greater evils. We're certainly hopeful that, regardless of tone, Justice League is the movie that gets the DC universe going. Are you looking forward to a movie that's a little less Empire and a little more Jedi? Let us know in the comments.