Now that The Flash has released, as probably the last Snyderverse movie, with the exception of Aquaman, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about how the Snyderverse could have been exactly what audiences needed right now. Especially given all the recent criticisms surrounding the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of MCU fatigue, as it was. All the issues that many had with the Zack Snyder-led DC Extended Universe, almost feel like the perfect relief for the Marvel Studios’ complaints right now. Now, I’m not advocating that one is better than the other, as this is not a Snyderverse vs MCU conversation. I’m more referring to the actual vision and plan that Snyder had going into the DCEU, and how it could have also existed with the MCU. And how audiences could have benefited from both co-existing with one another.
Please note that the following may contain spoilers for all the DCEU films, from Man Of Steel to The Flash, along with many MCU spoilers as well.
A Brief Recap Of The Snyderverse vs MCU As It Were
Marvel Studios did the unthinkable in 2008 with Iron Man, and the first ever MCU post-credit scene that saw Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) mention the word ‘Avengers Initiative’ in an attempt to recruit Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) Solo movies of individual characters then culminated in a team-up movie in The Avengers in 2012. After that, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born, changing the game for Hollywood in general.
Always playing catch up, Warner Bros. then decided to start their own shared universe of DC Comics characters and hired Zack Snyder to do so. Starting with Man Of Steel in 2013, we now know that Snyder has planned out an entire saga of DC Comics movies, that the fans dubbed as the DCEU. However, immediately after Man Of Steel, the studio, WB, began interfering. They wanted to emulate Marvel Studios’ formula and rush to a team-up movie right away. Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Then shoe-horned an existing Batman without an origin story, but also messily showcased cameos by various other flagship DC characters. This movie then led to 2017’s Justice League, which is really where things fell apart.
What Happened During Justice League?
Justice League, which Snyder originally meant as a massive 3-part saga featuring Darkseid, become one of Hollywood’s highly controversial film sets. Due to the poor critical and less-than-anticipated box office collections of Batman V. Superman, Justice League went from a trilogy to a 2-parter to a standalone movie, due to WB’s interference. Not to mention the studio reportedly losing confidence in Snyder. WB brought in Joss Whedon, the man behind Marvel Studios’ The Avengers to finish and re-work Justice League after Snyder departed due to a personal tragedy. Under Whedon’s stewardship, the Justice League movie underwent multiple reshoots, the script and story changed, and the set became a toxic and messy place.
Cyborg actor Ray Fisher has gone on to document all the toxicity, sexism, racism and culture of abuse on the set, calling out the WB leadership on his social media. While none of the other major stars of Justice League spoke out as explicitly, all support Fisher’s claims in one way or another. Following this crusade, even Whedon’s own past history of abusive behaviour surfaced as part of the #MeToo movement, seemingly confirming and supporting many other claims along with Fisher’s from years prior.
Justice League failed to live up to any commercial or box office expectations.
Comparisons To & Trying To Emulate The MCU Is What Killed The DCEU
Looking back on all of this now, it’s a shame what happened to the DCEU. While we are on the cusp of a new DC Universe, the Snyderverse could have been exactly what we needed. Recent criticism of the MCU mentions how the 20+ movie cinematic shared universe feels more of the same. From the underperformance of movies like Thor: Love And Thunder and Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantummania, critics and audiences are clamouring for ‘different’. It’s not exactly MCU fatigue, but fans are tiring of the same formula of bright and colourful tones with generic jokes and underdeveloped villains, coupled with seemingly no stakes. Through the inception of the MCU, talented filmmakers have left projects due to being forced to work in a box. Others have had their unique styles become homogenized in the Marvel machine. But in hindsight, it’s the opposite criticism that ultimately killed the DCEU.
Snyder’s dark and weary tone was either beloved or hated. There was no in-between. Audiences didn’t like how Man Of Steel ended, or that Batman and Wonder Woman now seemingly killed people. The lack of jokes or a light-hearted tone was one of the bigger complaints. Snyder’s hyper-stylized slow-mo action sequences became the thing of memes. Superhero movies didn’t need to be this dark or dreary or joyless, they said. WB either spent a lot of time trying to replicate Marvel’s success or interfered with Snyder’s vision based on these comparisons to the MCU.
But maybe if this type of superhero movie was still being made today, it would’ve provided the perfect counter-programming for the MCU movies.
How the Snyderverse Vs MCU Debate Should Never Have Existed
If audiences could choose between the dark and dreary adult-themed DC superhero movie, versus the light and fun Marvel ones, both could have found a market to survive. Each could have provided a break from the other, finding audiences within their own niche with something to appeal to everyone. That’s kind of the problem with a monopoly or having no competition. There’s no reason to push to change things or do things differently.
Zack Snyder’s DCEU was different. It went against the grain of the typical superhero movie, both in tone and approach. Fans initially complained that Snyder skipped Batman’s origin story in Batman V. Superman. But the exact same is happening now with Matt Reeves’ The Batman exploring the character’s younger days, while James Gunn’s DCU Batman will debut years into his career as a superhero with a son in tow. And while this seems like an exercise in futility, rehashing the death of the DCEU, I firmly believe if Zack Snyder got to tell his version of the DC Comics stories, in his own way without the studio’s interference, we could have had both the DCEU and MCU thriving today. Not despite, but because of each others’ existence.
The Flash is now in theatres.
What do you think? Let me know if you agree, disagree, or whatever else thoughts you want to share in the comments below. Or reach out to yell at me on Twitter at @theshahshahid.