For those that might be unaware, Warner Bros. has delivered an eye-brow raising mandate for all their future DC projects. What is that mandate you ask? It’s a simple one. No jokes. Yes, the company behind Looney Toons and Animaniacs has declared that all DC superheroes films in production will forgo humor in order to present a serious superhero story.
Now, I’m open to watching dark superhero stories just as much as the next person. Hell, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is one of my favorite movie trilogies of all time. The problem that I, and many others have, is that Warner Bros. is abandoning humor and levity in order to attempt to recreate the success that they had with Nolan’s Batman films. The fatal flaw in their logic is that DC superheroes are not all like Batman, nor should their films be similar in tone to the Caped Crusader’s.
Apparently, the critical and commercial failure of Green Lantern may be the cause of Warner Bros. and DC’s newest policy. In an attempt to capitalize on the success of Marvel’s Iron Man, Warner Bros. figured that Hal Jordan, typically viewed as one of the more serious members of The Justice League, could be used as a Tony Stark-like smooth talker. As we all know, it didn’t pay off well for them. Yes, you can argue that the humor was the least of Green Lantern’s problems, but it sure as hell didn’t help the movie. In the end, the failure of the humor falls squarely on the creators of the film, and the executives that demanded that Green Lantern’s cinematic debut be like Iron Man.
Looking at DC’s rival studio, it’s abundantly clear that one of Marvel’s greatest successes is its ability to incorporate humor into their films. While not all of their attempts have been successful (many would argue that Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World sacrificed plot and character development for gags), you still have runaway successes like Guardians of the Galaxy. Even Captain America: The Winter Soldier, probably Marvel’s most serious film, still had a healthy amount of humor that made the characters so damn likeable.
DC, much like Marvel, is bursting with comedic and fun-loving characters. Heroes like The Flash, the resident funnyman of the Justice League who has a personality as far away from Batman as you can get. When Batman broods, Flash laughs. It’s their distinct personalities and interactions with their supporting casts that set them apart. If Warner Bros. holds the line with their “no jokes” policy, does that mean we’ll get a Flash as serious and dower as The Dark Knight Detective? I don’t know about you, but that sounds terrible to me.
The reason why I’ve always loved reading Justice League, and watching the animated shows and movies based on the comic is because it’s about extraordinarily different people coming together to save the world. Their personalities and beliefs were all different, and that’s what made the team so interesting. It’s a blending of different tones and ideas that made them so damn effective at saving the day from villains like the Brainiac and Gorilla Grodd. Forcing them all to be one thing makes them lose their uniqueness and identities as characters.
Look, no one wants DC’s cinematic universe to take off more than me. I’ve been a DC fan since I first watched Batman: The Animated Series when I was seven-years-old. I’ve been reading Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and dozens of other DC comics for nearly 15 years. I love these characters and their worlds. That’s why I’m deeply concerned by the “talent” that is in charge of creating DC’s movies. I know that Zack Snyder and David Goyer have ardent defenders, but I just feel like they’re doing a guessing game when it comes to making the big decisions for their take on DC’s most iconic characters.