Zachary Levi starrer Shazam is the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe. It is both a critical and commercial success. Fans, who rejected Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, are embracing bright and sunny DC movies of late.
Warner Bros has said that they are not as committed to a shared universe as they were before, especially after the exit of Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill is probably out as Superman as well due to the failure of Justice League.
But we expect (and hope) that there are vestiges of a universe with characters like Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Shazam. Shazam, incidentally, acknowledged Aquaman in a post-credit scene, so we might yet see the World’s Mightiest Mortal rubbing shoulders with the Protector of the Deep, and occasionally crossing paths with Princess Diana of Themyscira.
Anyway, the DC Extended Universe as we know it was helmed by Zack Snyder and was blessed by Christopher Nolan who was a producer on the film along with his wife, Emma Thomas.
Here is a ranking of all the movies we have seen yet.
Suicide Squad: This movie just couldn’t seem to make up its mind as to what it wants to be. Whether it would prefer to descend into total madness or it would like to be too self-serious – we do not know and that is the problem with this film. In spite of some amazing individual performances (Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is the highlight), the disparate elements in the film do not gel together to make a coherent whole. Instead, we get a disjointed film, in which it feels like the people behind the camera are crazier than the inmates of Arkham Asylum can ever be.
Batman v Superman: The face-off between two of the most iconic superheroes on earth… and we wish it had never taken place. It was a welcome change to pit a jaded Batman against an indignant Superman who is a distant, godlike figure (compare Cavill’s Superman in this film to Christopher Reeve’s very-human Man of Steel in 1978 film Superman). But the film’s philosophy feels as though the writers read Friedrich Nietzsche For Dummies to brush up on concepts like nihilism and the relationship between god and human. The infamous Martha moment may have received more attention than anything else in the movie. Batman v Superman is a monstrosity that should never have been made.
Justice League: Personally, I liked Justice League. This film, despite flaws, made me more hopeful as to where DCEU is going. Of course, this film gets many things wrong — the villain could not be more generic. But the jocular, fun interplay between the main characters and watching some of the greatest superheroes (the ones with whom I grew up with) come to life was an unforgettable experience.
Aquaman: This James Wan film was easily the most beautiful entry in the DCEU. It was also one of the zaniest superhero movies ever. It is mostly all style, though, as the movie’s plot is all over the place and characters with one or two exceptions are not developed enough. But it is still a great time at the movies because of its unrelentingly beautiful visuals and humour. The underwater creatures are as varied as sharks to seahorses to a race of cannibalistic creatures called the Trench and towering over them all — there is a freaking leviathan (called Karathen) played by Julie Andrews.
Man of Steel: Man of Steel is an overall great film albeit with a messy, effect-heavy climax. But perhaps it was inevitable. I am not enamoured of CGI, but I understand when Kryptonians fight, there is bound to be destruction on an unprecedented scale. We had actually never seen Superman using his full powers before in live-action. And it was a sight to behold — until it got too much towards the end. The next film in this list acts as an antidote to Man of Steel’s access.
Shazam!: This David F Sandberg is the most unambitious DC film to date. It does not deal with heavy ideas like Man vs God conflict (Batman v Superman), or the War on Terror (The Dark Knight). No, it just wants to tell a story, a fun and kind of endearingly sweet story. If not for Wonder Woman, it would have been the best DCEU film yet. It was also great to see a superhero film after years that was not drowning in CGI.
Wonder Woman: Without trying to accomplish an overarching objective, Gal Gadot starrer Wonder Woman checked all the boxes and delivered a fantastic origin story of the most popular female superhero in the world. Patty Jenkins did what a veteran in comic-book movies (Snyder) could not do: tell an earnest, inspiring and lovable story of a strong heroine. The No Man’s Land scene in the film is the stuff superheroes are made of.