I like jokes. I think many people like jokes. Jokes are not a fad, and they’ve been a staple of storytelling for quite some time. They’ve been a large part of blockbuster movies where people go to have a good time, and part of that good time includes the magic of laughter. There are exceptions, and one of the biggest is The Dark Knight trilogy, which had jokes, but they didn’t do much to lighten the mood. Marvel responded by making humor an integral part of their movies, and the studio’s been pretty successful so far.
But with Warner Bros. planning to build its own interconnected set of superhero films, the studio might be countering in an utterly bizarre manner: by mandating that the new DC supehero movies have “no jokes”. Hit the jump for more. [Update: An unlikely source has spoken up to refute this “no joke” mandate: Seth Rogen. More after the jump.]
Update: In response to /Film’s coverage of this story, Seth Rogen took to Twitter to dispute the report. It’s unclear how he knows, whether he’s tangentially involved in a DC project at WB or if he’s simply spoken with people that are actively working on DC adaptations at the studio, but he seems pretty adamant that this isn’t true. Read his tweets below, followed by our original story:
Drew at Hitfix says he’s heard five times that Warner Bros. has a mandate for its upcoming DC superhero movies: “No jokes”. The reason for this bizarre rule is because Green Lantern, which was full of jokes, flopped so hard.
This isn’t the first time the studio has failed to understand why Green Lantern failed miserably. When talking about Green Lantern 2, Warner Bros.’ president at the time, Jeff Robinov, said, “To go forward we need to make it a little edgier and darker…” But people didn’t reject Green Lantern because it wasn’t edgy enough or dark enough. They rejected it because the script was bad, the villains were lame, and the jokes fell flat. Audiences aren’t against jokes. They’re against bad jokes.
WB could now be trying to dodge the issue of humor altogether, and if this is true, it wouldn’t surprise me. Man of Steel is already a mostly humorless picture, and the movie’s few jokes land with a clang (“He’s hot,” comes to mind). The movie doesn’t have to be packed with one-liners and sight gags, but it looks like Man of Steel was trying to follow the playbook from Nolan’s Batman movies: We’re being realistic, and cracking jokes on a consistent basis would shatter reality for some reason.
It’s increasingly clear that Warner Bros. is at a loss with how to play the superhero game. They’re cramming superheroes into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and racing to Justice League as quickly as possible. The studio is playing catch-up and trying to differentiate itself by appealing to the “dark and edgy” fans who feel that humor diminishes superheroes. And while DC superheroes may be on the level of “gods”, it’s still possible to laugh and remain in awe. You don’t have to sacrifice one to keep the other.