Not too long ago, the common belief was that the DCEU as we know it, outside of Wonder Woman, was more or less over. A hard reboot was the only fix, and anything associated with Batman v. Superman or Justice League would have to go. But here we are, a year later, and James Wan's AquamanÂ starring Jason Momoa has proven everyone wrong, and is about to make a billion dollars, making it the most successful DCEU movie by far. Who saw that coming? Warner Brothers has to now be wondering what it all means going forward for their DC brand. Here are four lessons we hope WB takes away from Aquaman's huge success.
You Don't Need To Scrap Everything
Although the Zack Snyder directed DCEU films certainly have their fans, the critical and commercial reception to them has been very mixed, especially Batman V. Superman and Justice League. This might have led Warner Brothers to scrap anything to do with those films when doing new movies that followed them, but the response to BvS didn't effect Wonder Woman in the slightest, and clearly, the response to Justice League did nothing to slow down Aquaman's enormous success.
So the lesson here: don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Let Ezra Miller remain as Barry Allen/The Flash, even if his movie doesn't much reference Justice League. Sure, give him a new costume, just like Aquaman's movie put him in a version of his iconic comic book suit, but you don't have to reboot the whole DCEU continuity. Just like in the comics, if a certain long-running title has a run that doesn't click with fans, the next creative team could just pick up where they left off and goes in a new direction. Look how well it worked out for Arthur.
Don't Be Afraid Of A Fantastical, Comic Book Tone
When Zack Snyder started the DCEU with Man of Steel, clearly he was going for something more grounded, like the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy. But what works for Batman doesn't really work for the rest of the DC Universe heroes, with few exceptions (characters like Green Arrow, Black Canary and the Question spring to mind). Aquaman worked because it embraced the crazy and fantastical comic book world it was based on, and gave viewers something fun and bright, and unlike anything they'd seen before. And audiences responded with their hard earned dollars. And although Wonder Woman was more tonally serious film than Aquaman, it too wasn't afraid to embrace humor and fantasy, and that was DC's other recent big hit. See a pattern?
Non A-List Heroes Can Work On The Big Screen Too
For decades, Warner Brothers was very averse to embracing their DC heroes who weren't named Batman or Superman. Even Wonder Woman, their third most iconic hero, took years to get made. But Aquaman proves that you can take a character who is not one of their A-list heroes (or related to them tangentially, like the Joker) and spin gold out of it. Aquaman was made fun of in the mainstream for years (see: Entourage, Family Guy, etc,). But with a billion dollar worldwide box office of Aquaman, who's laughing now? If Aquaman can make bank, so can Blue Beetle, the New Gods, any just about any character in the DC Comics library.
Apply That Lighter, Fun Tone To Superman
Yeah, I know we just said focus on the lesser known characters in the DC pantheon for movies. And they should. But you can't just leave your stars hanging either. Batman will always have some kind of movie in development, as he's WB's golden boy, but Superman deserves a big, bright fun comic book film with a similar tone to what Aquaman had. Ok, maybe a wee bit less goofy, but something that you can take a kid to see and they won't get traumatized. Instead of shelving the Man of Tomorrow, look to Aquaman (and Wonder Woman!) to see how it should be done. And by the way, keep Henry Cavill. He's perfect.
Images: Warner Brothers