The DCEU: Does it exist? How the Joker’s success influences it

I think we can all agree that comic book movies in recent years have left a massive influence in pop culture. The excitement and buzz whenever a trailer of an adaptation starts trending on social media is an emphatic feeling that we all share to a certain extent.

Regardless of how the superhero genre has evolved over the years, when it comes to delivering sheer, blockbuster entertainment on the big screen nobody does it better than DC and Marvel.

But that also raises the question as to who has the edge when it comes to their respective media franchise?

Read more: How to destroy your cinematic universe

Marvel vs DC: The long rivalry

While Marvel Studios is known for their decade-long cinematic universe interconnected with a cohesive storyline, their rival DC Films attained their success by releasing stand-alone adaptations that left their own legacies. The Dark Knight Trilogy, Watchmen and Superman being a few notable examples.

Establishing a cinematic universe takes time, patience and thoughtful planning, something which Marvel figured out early on.

The swift introduction of the Justice League via e-mail in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice indicated that DC wasn’t willing to go that way.

Unlike Marvel’s Avengers where the heroes crossed paths after going through phases of character development in their respective solo films.

In all fairness, although DC did make an attempt to flesh out their characters by giving them a backstory to grow like in 2013’s Man of Steel, they were still struggling to find a consistent tone in subsequent DCEU instalments. Only exemplified by the commercial and critical failure of Suicide Squad – A movie that was disappointing on so many levels that even Oscar winner Jared Leto couldn’t salvage with his brief appearance. 

Individuality: DC’s stronghold

However not everything is doom and gloom as it looks. The enormous success of solo films such as Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Shazam! prove that there’s still much anticipation and promise in the DC Extended Universe. It could even be a sign encouraging DC to go back to playing to their strengths. Which is, crafting individual stories with a strong focus on character development and exploration of intimate themes.

Joker Review: Joaquin Phoenix gets the last laugh!

DC’s latest project this year is the highly anticipated Joker starring the versatile Joaquin Phoenix. The film could be seen as a turning point for the company as it’s intended to launch DC Black, a line of DC-based comic book films separate from the DCEU with darker and more experimental material.

Read more: Joker Review: Joaquin Phoenix gets the last laugh!

In hindsight, DC is at their creative best when they stick to their roots instead of taking notes from its rivals. Although the future of the DCEU is uncertain Todd Phillip’s Joker and Joaquin Phoenix’s interpretation of the iconic role could be the “revival” DC has been looking for.     

Shazam is the new magic word for DCEU!

First, they tried too hard to not be Marvel. Then they tried too hard to be Marvel. Turns out all they had to do was say the magic word. The DC Extended Universe finally gets it all right with “Shazam!”.

A refreshing break from the bleakness

For a long time the consensus was that the DC movies are to be significantly more dark and bleak than contemporary superhero films. The darkness was supposed to inspire a more realistic outlook. If done right, that could have turned out well. But it wasn’t executed right. So the DCEU tried to move on to a more cheerful theme, evident in the Justice League movie. Unfortunately that also didn’t turn out great, as perhaps the most awaited film ever had measly returns from the box office.

With Aquaman, the DCEU showed signs of vitality. And they have finally perfected the formula with Shazam. The most family friendly movie from the DCEU so far, Shazam attempts to inspire every adult to embrace the child in them. And every child to unfold the hero in them. The DCEU displays it’s knack for consistency, comedy and timing in this exhilarating Boy-of-Steel film.

A well told origin story

The most difficult part of a Superhero story told on the big screen is often the origin. Origin stories are a dime a dozen, and many of them are as good as one would imagine can get. While Shazam isn’t innovative, it is near perfect in execution. The film tells the story of 14-year old Billy Batson gaining the powers of the “Seven Elders” and his subsequent adventures in a simple and carefree fashion.

While it is easy to assume from the trailers or this review that the film is specifically kid-friendly, such is not the case. It explores dark aspects of the regular lives of people with straightforward realism. But unlike many contemporaries, the film attempts to teach the audience to deal with life’s many problems with a smile.

A genuinely good time

At its core, Shazam is a cheerful superhero tale, told with remarkable simplicity and style. It doesn’t try too hard to be something it is not. And that sets it apart from many of its contemporaries. Instead of pushing an overreaching theme or straining to set up some elaborate tale (it does that quite naturally), Shazam just offers its audience a good time at the theater. All the actors involved perform perfectly on their roles, especially the younger actors and Zachary Levi. Mark Strong’s acting is as strong as ever. Most importantly, everyone seems in touch with their characters.

So go watch Shazam in the STAR Cineplex. And let the magic entangle you for a good time.

Get your tickets here.

Black Panther makes history with best picture oscar nomination

Black Panther made history as the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The closest film that came before was the Dark Knight, and many critics were vocal about the snub. Many believe that the subsequent expansion of the Best Picture category to ten nominations was a reaction to this controversy.

Black Panther has also been nominated for six other categories, such as Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Score, Best Original Song and Best Production Design.

“The only way we ever wanted to do this project was the right way and that meant finding a filmmaker who had something personal to say, who had a vision and could take this character into another arena and showcase the power of representation on a canvas of this size,”

Said Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios. 

“We’re very, very proud of what this film has done. The movie has made a cultural impact that is just humbling and gratifying to see. And we’re very grateful to the Academy for this recognition.”

Of course, Black Panther has some tough competition, sharing its nomination with Roma, Vice, The Favourite, Bohemian Rhapsody, BlacKkKlansman, Green Book and A Star is Born.

Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther is notable for its cast and strong message. The film grossed $1.34 billion worldwide last year.