No that did not read “The DCEU is in a Crisis”, although that wouldn’t be a completely unwarranted assumption. As someone who has enjoyed the films of the DCEU so far (MAN OF STEEL, BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and SUICIDE SQUAD) I would be lying if I didn’t say I was disappointed by what they’ve produced. Honestly I do think it is in part due to our high expectations of comic book movies, we have been rather spoiled of late. If BATMAN V SUPERMAN came out 10 years ago it would have blown our minds and would probably be remembered as one of the best comic book movies ever. However, that was not the case and while BVS and SS have been commercial successes it may not be the case forever, eventually general audiences will get tired of giving DC chances to prove themselves.
The DCEU needs a critical success before people give up on it and it needs something big that the competition can’t do. Let’s face it, no matter what they do they are always going to be compared to MARVEL, so to get the upper hand they need to bring something new that sets them apart. BATMAN V SUPERMAN pitted hero against hero, but it was shortly before CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, DC will have the first female lead superhero film with WONDER WOMAN, but we all know CAPTAIN MARVEL is coming. It’s not enough to do something first, they need to do something that can’t be repeated.
Something that is present in both of the comic franchises source materials is the idea of the multiverse, but it is usually associated more with DC and they are in a perfect position to play upon that within the movies. Everyone has heard of the famous DC comic CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, merging multiple universes with countless iterations of heroes and villains all facing off against one huge universe ending threat. This could be the foundation of a future movie’s plot. Currently DC has a film and television universe running simultaneously (well, it kinda has multiple TV universes but the CW universe is the main one), and it could utilize the television fandom to increase interest within the films by having these universes collide.
While a lot of fans of the TV shows are probably already supporting the movies there is always the casual fan that may not care so much about the films. If you take the television heroes and place them in one of the movies, it would most likely spur their interest to check it out. Fans of the CW’s FLASH series will already be familiar with the concept of the multiverse as it has already been explored within the show. To extend upon this, connecting the series to the film universe makes it an integral part of the TV universe, making the film almost required viewing for the TV fans.
Of course it isn’t all about garnering greater numbers at the box office, like I said DC need an edge, something MARVEL can’t recreate. MARVEL has TV shows as well but they’re all part of the MCU anyway, they could cross them over but that is all it would be, a crossover, and after AVENGERS that’s not special anymore. The only major MARVEL universes outside of the MCU is the properties owned by FOX and to do anything with that would require some serious negotiating, and even then I doubt they’d want to crossover with their FANTASTIC FOUR because let’s be honest who would, and their X-MEN series is still doing well enough that FOX doesn’t need to make a deal like SONY did with SPIDER-MAN.
DC benefits from the fact that it is owned by Warner Bros and, because of this, all DC properties are within their control. This is the big hook to pull off a CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS movie. Don’t just cross two universes, cross them all, not just the current but the past as well. I imagine it would take a hell of a lot of effort and contract agreements but, if doable, it would be incredible. It would be cool to see Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow teaming up with Ben Affleck’s Batman, but you know what would be better, Affleck’s Batman side by side with Christian Bale’s. You could even get Michael Keaton back, keep him in the suit and use some modern movie magic to make his chin young again and there you go, a badass Batman trio. There’s no shortage of Superman’s for Henry Cavill to soar through the skies with either; Brandon Routh, Tom Welling, Tyler Hoechlin, and I’m sure if they really wanted to they could make a convincing Christopher Reeve stand in, be it CGI or facial prosthetic (used sparingly of course).
The beauty of this is the other actors/versions of the characters don’t have to be anything more than glorified cameos. DC has a long history of live-action adaptations with plenty of variations of their characters to choose from, they could even just use snippets of the old footage if they really wanted to have glimpses of things like Adam West’s Batman, or John Wesley Shipp’s Flash. The focus would obviously be on the DCEU versions of the characters, but even the inclusion of others in the marketing would be enough to generate a huge interest in the film. Shots of Ezra Miller and Grant Gustin running side by side, Henry Cavill watching Christopher Reeve fly by, or Ben Affleck, Christian Bale and Michael Keaton all saying the immortal words, “I’m Batman”. It could draw people in, new and old fans alike, presenting something new but heavily playing upon nostalgia.
Yes, MARVEL could do an alternate universes film but they would have to create the other universes completely within that narrative. DC has a great opportunity to utilise the multiverse in a way their competition can’t. Obviously it would also have to be a good film; you can’t just throw a bunch of old actors at it and expect a masterpiece. But with Geoff Johns now the co-chief of DC films it could be pulled off. With his work on titles like Flashpoint and the recent DC Universe Rebirth, he has experience with the multiverse concept and merging new and old ideas. This all may just come across as fan-fiction rambling, but as a DC fan and a fan of comics in general, I really want the DC films to be great. Like I said earlier, I have enjoyed what they’ve done so far, but they could be better and they’re not going to achieve that by copying MARVEL.
What MARVEL has done worked, but we’ve seen that already so DC should do something new (by re-using the old). I accept they’re filming JUSTICE LEAGUE already so there’s no hope for my dreams there, but, if they’re still waiting on a plot for the sequel, I’ve got a pitch for them.