When it comes to the DC Extended Universe (or DC Cinematic Universe or whatever your preferred DC nomenclature), tensions run hot. There are those that unabashedly love the films that Warner Bros. and DC have crafted thus far, those that have more mixed feelings on the direction, and those that downright hate the tone these superhero films have taken.
It began with Zack Snyder’s 2013 film Man of Steel, which offered a somewhat darker, more grounded take on the Superman character. That was followed by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which brought a new Batman into the equation and doubled down on the darkness and grit of Man of Steel. Then came Suicide Squad, something of a risk for the studio, but a film that was somewhat reworked in post-production to fit the tone of a trailer that fans seemed to enjoy. And then, finally, this summer we got Wonder Woman, which marked a significant change in tone and direction—a focus on heroics above all and a self-contained story.
Many see Wonder Woman as a positive change in direction for the DCEU, and while some DC fans may still contend the universe has been great all along, it appears that Superman himself Henry Cavill is not one of them. As part of a profile in Poetic Justice (via Heroic Hollywood), Cavill admits the tonal and stylistic direction of the DCEU pre-Wonder Woman was not exactly great:
“Even if Marvel didn’t exist, we’d struggle. There was a style they [DC] were going for, an attempt to be different and look at things from a slightly different perspective, which hasn’t necessarily worked. Yes, it has made money but it has not been a critical success; it hasn’t given everyone that sensation which superheroes should give the viewer.”
But Cavill agrees that Wonder Woman shows the way forward, noting that the DCEU seems to be on the correct course at this juncture:
“I think it is a wonderful time for the female hero. It is the perfect setting in social politics right now, we need it, we want that perspective, and Wonder Woman has struck at the ideal time and has become a phenomenal success, which is fantastic. Any success within the superhero universe, especially within the DC Universe, is wonderful, because I want to keep telling the Superman story; selfishly, that works for me.
I feel like now the right mistakes have been made and they haven’t been pandered [to], and we can start telling the stories in the way they need to be told. It is even better to come back from a mistake or stylistic error into the correct vein because it will make it seem that much stronger. Wonder Woman was the first step in the right direction.”
It’ll be interesting to see if Justice League continues to move the DCEU forward (and away from the Snyder-infused BvS tone). The film entered production with Snyder at the helm mere weeks after Batman v Superman was released, meaning that major course-correcting changes couldn’t be made in that initial production period. But Snyder left the project and Joss Whedon came in to write and oversee the direction of reshoots, so it’s possible those new scenes brought the film more in line with Wonder Woman. Although as we can attest having been on the Justice League set last year, Snyder intended a lighter tone than Batman v Superman all along.