Story, villain problems continue to plague the DCEU

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DCEU (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

While Aquaman isn’t the weakest entry into the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), it is just another example of the shortcomings of the DC movies.

The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) launched its sixth movie last week with Aquaman. Unfortunately, yet again, the DCEU has another film that doesn’t impress in the same way that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has thus far.

The MCU has launched 20 films in an 11-year period from 2008-2018. Not all of them have been great, but certainly they have all been successful at building a brand for the Marvel heroes.

The DCEU has launched 6 films in a 6-year period from 2013-2018. The difference in number of films is pretty sad, but the fact remains that DC has struggled to get things right on the big screen. At least with this particular run of films.

One of the greatest films in DC’s long cinematic history wasn’t even a live-action take on one of their characters, but was instead Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), which was an animated feature based on the world of Batman: The Animated Series (1992-95).

On his IMDb page, Michael Uslan has been a producer of every major Batman film – going all the way back to Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and all the way through Justice League (2017). Uslan had this to say about what is important when crafting a film – specifically referring to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm:

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"“If, like me, you believe there are ten elements that make a great film, and that they are: story; story; story; story; story; story; character; character; character; and story; then, arguably, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm may be the greatest Batman film ever in the media.”"

That is where all of the current problems for the DCEU now fall – to play off Uslan’s quote: lack of story to the seventh power and a lack of character to the third power. The biggest issues for the DCEU occur mostly at the end of the film, as the villains fall flat and the stories do not conclude as well as they should.

Most of the DCEU movies have been way too big in their scope. And most of this problem stems from the choice of the villain. DC has a strong roster of villains, yet time and again, the choices made are uninspired in some way.

Here are the six films of the DCEU thus far, along with my personal scores:

  • Man of Steel (2013) – 5/10
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – 6/10
    • “Ultimate Edition” 7/10
  • Suicide Squad (2016) – 5/10
  • Wonder Woman (2017) – 8/10
  • Justice League (2017) – 6/10
  • Aquaman (2018) – 6/10

So, let’s go back to the start – Henry Cavill was ready to take up the role of Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman, and director Zack Snyder was chosen to take the helm of the entire DCEU.