The mood amongst DC fans when it comes to the newly minted Cinematic Universe has been somber, defeated, and defensive in the past four months following the poorly received Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The “war,” as narrow-minded fanboys like to call it, was over. Pack it up, Zack Snyder; tuck your summer in, Suicide Squad. Going into Comic Con, it appeared as though the top brass at Warner Bros. would just push their next two movies and concede to being the second banana. Instead, the studio showed a heightened awareness of what people criticized their movies for with some amazing new trailers, a rejuvenated lineup of movies that exemplifies the cast of characters that they are working with, and something else that’s been missing—good will.
The tonal shift started with Suicide Squad, a movie that is pressing a nerve with not only rabid fans, but a demographic of people who think they’re too cool for comic book movies. A cursory glance of the convention hall at Comic Con this weekend shows a huge section dedicated to the day-glo marketing push for Squad, as well as at least 10-15 Joker/Harley/Deadshot cosplayers to every action figure based on the the new imagining of these characters. It’s a movie that’s right on time for the DCU, and in line with the general excitement that people have to see characters like Harley Quinn and Killer Croc on the screen for the first time, or Jared Leto’s screen-stealing depiction of the Joker. Squad was always the wildcard within the first four movies on the slate for the DC Cinematic Universe, and it's unfairly had to shoulder the brunt of the good word of mouth after BvS limped out of theaters. The marketing of the movie has been pushed into overdrive, and it truly looks like it will stand alone, and probably make a lot more money than people were expecting—analysts have it crushing the August record set by Guardians of The Galaxy to the tune of a $115 million opening weekend.
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the DCU slate was the Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman. The trailer rocked Hall H yesterday, squashing the concern that the first film based on the character would be a disaster. Gal Gadot is simply magnetic in the role, and the trailer shows a movie that is not only stylish, but extremely fierce and magical. Much like Captain America: The First Avenger, Wonder Woman is a period piece, taking place in WWI era Europe and also her home of Themyscira. The difference is, we’re seeing this war from a woman’s perspective, one who looks down upon the selfish machinations of men. A smart and funny scene at the end sees Diana Prince (Wonder Woman’s secret identity) deride Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) for having a secretary, saying that where she’s from its “slavery.” At first glance, Wonder Woman looks like it’s going to give the character the respect that she’s always deserved—and a heroine that will define superwomen on the big screen.
The panel wouldn’t be complete without Justice League though, and the blockbuster superhero mash-up certainly sent shockwaves through the walls of Hall H. This weekend was Zack Snyder’s shot at redemption, and by the looks of things, he may have one more shot at making a movie that everyone can enjoy. The lighthearted and downright fun trailer for Justice League was a first look that was devoid of shots of villains or a sense of location—it simply focused on the chemistry between the heroes. It’s a story of how Bruce Wayne, the brooding and angry anti-hero of BvS, has to let his guard down and LEARN how to be a leader again. It’s a simple plot, one I’m sure isn’t lost on Snyder because it parallels the direction he’s had with helping to shape the universe.
Snyder has stumbled to get things right, but he’s seemingly learned why we, and especially the people walking the convention halls of Comic Con, love these characters so much. The relationship between Bruce/Batman and Diana/Wonder Woman is warm and familiar. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman is set to rearrange the tepid casual perception of Aquaman, and he looks downright badass. However, it's Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen/Flash who steals the show with his quirky banter—and they even managed to make Ray Fisher’s CGI-heavy Cyborg look impressive. Even though we don’t learn much about the actual story of the movie (which is still in production), this brief re-introduction of the principal cast shows that we can rest easy. We’re going to be able to root for these guys.
DC/Warner Bros. could have laid down and taken the punches from the Marvel faithful, but it’s a good thing for the still-rising superhero genre that they won’t give up without a fight. When looking forward to a future, one with a Ben Affleck-directed standalone Batman and without Zack Snyder, who wraps up his role after Justice League), it’s hard to believe that people were writing off this universe just a few short months ago. The DCU is alive and kicking, and this weekend they proved that they could pull out the big guns when it’s "useful."