DC Entertainment was mocked mercilessly for Zack Snyder’s dark, numb Batman v Superman, and it appears the company has learned from its mistakes. BvS second unit director Damon Caro said recently that the plan was always for Justice League to be more hopeful than DC’s first team-up flick, but that the widespread criticism lit a fire under the company to make the movie funnier, lighter, and more about the rise of superheroes than their fall.
“The great stories, the Greek tragedies, even life we have to be knocked down before we can build our way up,” Caro said. “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.”
Sure, Empire Strikes Back is dark, but it’s not the dismal punch in the gut that was Batman v Superman. Empire, at the end of the day, is still a space opera. 2016’s BvS is a tragedy.
Perhaps following BvS up so quickly with Justice League — a year and a half later — will be the film’s saving grace. If DC really has learned from its mistakes, listening to its fan base and critics alike, then Justice League really could be the perfect JL origin story that’s been missing from the big screen.
The challenge comes in finding the balance between a decidedly dark plot (taking on the immortal Steppenwolf) and a cast of characters whose films have, so far, refused to shed much light through the gloom. Superman is currently the only JL member with his own Snyderverse story (2013’s Man of Steel), Batman’s intro was BvS, and the rest of the team is still waiting around for their respective premieres.
Wonder Woman’s trailers have a decidedly hopeful tone, but fans will have to wait until June 2 to see whether or not that holds true for the movie as a whole. The Flash and Aquaman won’t premiere until 2018. Cyborg is set for 2020, one year after the second JL film is expected.
And while Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen is promised to be a much-needed light in Justice League, the question remains about whether or not that will be enough. Humor has always been essential to superhero stories, no matter the dark corners they explore. Hopefully, DC really has learned its lesson.
Justice League premieres November 17.