Down, down down went "Suicide Squad" over the weekend.
Sure, the numbers are still big for the DC comics supervillain romp. The movie earned $43 million in its second weekend.
Still, the box office tally drooped 67 percent from its opening weekend. That, on top of withering reviews and serious concern from fans, means DC has another “Batman v Superman” on its hands.
DC superhero movies make money, but the brand gets damaged with each film effort.
Compare that to Marvel’s current model. The Marvel Cinematic Universe made even the oft-delayed “Ant-Man” into a crowd pleaser with serious sequel potential.
The DC problem is so bad people flocked to this insider account slamming Warner Bros. for the way it handled recent comic book films … and studio employees.
All hope isn’t lost. Not only are more DC movies on the way, including “Justice League” and “Wonder Woman” in 2017, there are many more in the proverbial pipeline.
Now, if the Warner Bros. think tank would consider the following seven suggestions DC superhero movies would be in better shape:
- Fire Zack Snyder: How did the director of “Sucker Punch” become Warner Bros.’ go-to superhero auteur? His spotty track record prior to “Man of Steel” certainly didn’t seal the deal. Since then, he delivered the super-letdown “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which told fans he wasn’t the right person behind the camera. Guess who’s directing “Justice League” … and its sequel? Who served as an executive producer on “Suicide Squad?” Snyder’s professional fingerprints are all over four upcoming DC Comics adaptations, too, according to imdb.com. Why? When did he earn this unflagging devotion? Enough is enough.
- Trust Fresh Faces: Who’s in charge of the eighth “Star Wars” film? Rian Johnson, a director with a modest resume but stellar work on shows like “Breaking Bad.” Marvel entrusted the brothers behind “You, Me and Dupree” to tackle the second “Captain America” feature. Now, Anthony and Joe Russo are directing the next two “Avengers” movies. DC can do the same. Find talented, but lesser known, directors. Give them the creative rope to invigorate the universe. Soon.
- Bring Back Superman: Yes, Henry Cavill is the current actor in those blue tights. He’s just not Superman. Not the one we grew up with for decades. Certainly not the god-like figure played with such humanity by Christopher Reeve in four feature films. This new, “improved” Superman is confused. Conflicted. Dull. Marvel proved that a Boy Scout superhero like Captain America could still be interesting. The DC superhero movies brain trust should follow a similar path with the Man of Steel.
- Does Anyone Remember Laughter? The best Marvel movies aren’t satisfied with delivering bare-knuckle action. They have a hearty sense of humor, too. The Hulk punching Thor out of the blue in “The Avengers” might be the best sight gag in recent memory. When DC superhero movies go for the funny bone it doesn’t work nearly as well. And, frankly, these films are often too gritty, too dark to even try. “Suicide Squad” squeezed jokes in late in the production cycle, but the results proved that better late than never isn’t always true. These are comic book movies. They can make us laugh once in a while.
- Avoid PC Storytelling: It’s tempting to play nice with those Social Justice Warriors. Liberal Hollywood loves to embed progressive messages in their stories. Put the two together, and there’s a good chance the WB suits would like to do the same with some DC movies. Don’t. We saw what happened to “Ghostbusters” after playing the Gender Card. Superhero films demand massive budgets. That means they need massive returns. Going political may draw some extra headlines, but it alienates as many folks as it attracts.
- Trust the Source Material: Superhero movies have an unfair advantage over every other movie genre. They have a treasure trove of back stories from which to draw. Decades of compelling,complicated story lines ready to be re-told. Do some reading. Find the very best stories that can be transferred to the big screen. And don’t make too many wholesale changes. That will anger Geek Nation and potential ruin what worked in the first place.
- Deliver on the Hype: For months Warner Bros. teased us about the new Joker, played by Oscar-winner Jared Leto. We saw snippets of him in action, heard about his wacky pranks off-screen to prep for the role and figured he would re-imagine the legendary character in “Suicide Squad.” Then we saw the movie … and couldn’t help but be left down. Heck, the “SS” trailers used the Joker more effectively than the actual film.