The critics have once again let us know how much they hate the latest installment in the DC cinematic universe, Suicide Squad. I personally have enjoyed all three movies that have been released so far, but that raises a question: why are the critics hating the DC Universe?
I read several reviews of Batman V. Superman and the most common themes were that it was too dark and there was a lack of humor. These were also the same issues that critics raised with the first installment, Man of Steel, so surely DC would have gotten it right with the third installment, Suicide Squad right? According to the critics, DC and Warner Bros. seem to have done worse this time; they have Suicide Squad rated 26% fresh on the website Rotten Tomatoes. The most common consensus for the movie is that despite having a talented cast the movie couldn’t overcome a weak story and choppy action. While I do think the critics have raised very valid points that both Batman V. Superman and Suicide Squad have been crippled by questionable editing choices, I myself wonder at the criteria by which they are evaluating these movies. This brings me to my big problem with critics and their reviews of the DC movies: the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
That’s right. I believe the critics are grading DC’s movies against what has become the industry standard,the Marvel cinematic universe. This has led to what might be seen as DC’s shift in tone from the dark and gritty nature of their previous installments. By their very nature, the heroes of DC are darker than their family friendly counterparts at Marvel. Whether is Batman struggling to overcome the deaths of his parents and Robin or Superman trying to find a place he belongs and realizing no matter how much good he does some people will hate him just because he is different; these are the trials and tribulations that I connect with. This, to me, is one of the staples of DC, starting with their comics. I feel like it will be a fatal mistake for DC to abandon what has been their niche in pursuit of critical approval. We all know that an imitation is rarely as good as the original product, and I feel that is what DC is moving towards; being an imitation of the MCU. While I do enjoy Marvel, it is because of this gritty and serious tone that I tend to enjoy DC more.
The dark and gritty nature of Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman was something fresh that I enjoyed immensely. It showed the human struggle of the heroes as they dealt with obstacles and their troubled past. It was something that, as a fan, I connected with because it was different from Marvel; it was uniquely DC. Granted, the editing in Batman V. Superman‘s theatrical release made it annoyingly hard to follow and left gaps in the story, but the overall feel of the movie was unique and fresh. Suicide Squad was also a victim of lousy editing, leaving me craving more of Jared Leto’s Joker, but it was still gritty and dark enough to feel like a DC product. With Justice League and Wonder Woman on the horizon, I hope these films continue to feel like DC movies and not a cheap imitation of Marvel.