It’s official: Phase one of the DCEU is looking at an unceremonious death following the reported departure of Henry Cavill, DC’s current Superman-in-residence. The news comes as a shock following July’s rumors that Batfleck himself, Ben Affleck, is on his way out the door, too.
In spite of the shake-ups, Warner Bros. has no intention of shelving their comic book efforts. Several films are still slated to hit theaters in the coming months: Jason Momoa’s Aquaman standalone film in December, Zachary Levi’s Shazam!, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman follow-up, and Ezra Miller’s Flashpoint, among others.
In light of the tepid reception of most DCEU releases, the seismic shift in focus from some of fiction’s most recognizable faces may look like desperation in its purest form. But there’s still hope. The DCEU may not be living up to the titanic reputation of its inhabitants, but all is not lost.
Here are a few humble suggestions for the DCEU, while they’re in a rebuilding year.
Bring Batman and Superman Back (But Just for a Few Minutes)
Losing Batman and Superman could be great for the DCEU, but you’ve got to send the characters off first. So, bring back Affleck and Cavill. And then murder them. Hard. That tactic leaves viewers and characters alike in uncharted territory. It’s time to go with something more experimental. Fortunately, DC has the deepest bench in comics, so the possibilities are endless.
Go Cosmic (Before Marvel Beats You to the Punch)
The space surrounding DC’s Earth is populated with some really excellent characters and storylines. The DCEU has already laid the groundwork for a Darkseid pop-in. That’s a big step in the right direction.
Get Your CG in Order
This should go without saying, but if you’re going to do a big budget movie with monsters and weird alien creatures, everything has to look very pretty. So far, the DCEU hasn’t really grasped that concept. Justice League’s big bad, Steppenwolf, was so awful even the movie’s director, Joss Whedon, acknowledged it.
It’s time to step up your game Warner Bros, or no amount of narrative inventiveness will save you.
Find a New Mastermind (And His Name Is James Wan)
The DCEU’s big creative issue is that it seems like no one is having any fun. On-screen or off, everything looks like a big chore. Enter James Wan, a natural filmmaker who could breathe new life into DC’s stale costumed proceedings.
It’s difficult to say with one hundred percent certainty that James Wan’s Aquaman will be the first genuinely exceptional DCEU movie, but given the director’s track record (The Conjuring, Saw, Furious 7, et al.) and his clearly established ability to shift effortlessly between genres, it’s a pretty good bet.
Furious 7, in particular, was a perfect application for the gig. Wan proved himself capable of stepping into an established universe, remaining true to a diverse array of characters, and raising the bar all the while.
Lean on Wonder Woman
Since Bats and the Boy in Blue are on their way out, the Justice League will need a shepherd for its members, and that’s clearly Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Not only is she the only member of the JLA with any combat leadership experience, she’s also the only one with her head screwed on straight; The Flash is hesitant at best, Cyborg is mired in teen angst, and Aquaman has his own drama to deal with. From a more grounded perspective, Gal Gadot’s solo power at the box office makes putting the brunt of any upcoming team films on the actor’s skilled shoulders seems like a no-brainer.