Wonder Woman is the biggest movie of the summer, breaking all kinds of records, and successfully lighting a path for DC Films after Zack Snyder’s grimdark vision didn’t pan out. Wonder Woman should be the future of DC Films, but while yes, a sequel is in the works, what Warner Brothers and DC Films have done over the last couple of days is respond to this success not by focusing on what made Wonder Woman a hit, but instead by greenlighting a bunch of Joker movies and basically steering straight into the ditch. On top of the Joker origin story not starring Jared Leto that no one wants that I posted about yesterday, Crazy Stupid Love directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are finalizing a deal to make a Joker/Harley Quinn movie, which will star Margot Robbie and Jared Leto, Third Best Joker. So basically, filmmakers best known for romantic stories are making a movie about an abusive relationship. Super good.
But wait! It gets crazier! Because buried within the Joker/Harley news is the tidbit that Matt Reeves’ stand-alone Batman movie—you know, the one that’s supposed to star Ben Affleck—won’t be part of the Justice League series of movies which includes Wonder Woman and Aquaman, and will in fact star a new actor as Batman. Everyone started wondering what this means for Affleck—who seems halfway out the door already, anyway—and if this means there will be two Batmen just like there will be two Jokers. An update walked this back by clarifying that the continuity of the Bat-movie is undecided, which is basically saying, “LOL, we don’t know either.”
So who the f*ck knows what is going on at DC Films. Wonder Woman provides a clear direction moving forward, but after this week, it feels like they’re determined not to capitalize on this moment. And I cannot emphasize enough what a terrible idea a “criminal love story” is if it stars the Joker and Harley Quinn. This is not Bonnie and Clyde, this is “violent abuser terrorizes and subjugates his girlfriend”. You wanna make a Harley Quinn movie? Great—her best storyline is the one in which she LEAVES THE JOKER.
And all this messed up continuity. DC defenders will point to the comics, where there is a robust multi-verse with many congruous continuities, like Earth 2 and Justice League Dark. But convoluted continuity is the #1 thing that intimidates potential comic book readers, and is the most frequent reason I hear for why people don’t pick up a comic book, even if they’re willing. “I don’t know where to start,” they say, overwhelmed by the sheer volume of universes and stories. Marvel’s “it’s all connected” continuity can be unwieldy, but it does serve to streamline the universe into one consistent narrative pipeline. There aren’t multiple versions of the same character running around, and you only have to know the one world.
What Warners/DC is doing is chucking spaghetti at the wall. Five years ago, I’d be way into it because it’s a wild way to build a franchise, but after this summer, you can feel the tide turning against franchises. Batman and Wonder Woman are safe bets, and Marvel should be fine, because everyone trusts them. I’m not saying the whole system will collapse. But that Cyborg movie DC has on tap? Or embattled Joss Whedon’s Batgirl movie? Or Margot Robbie’s female-centric Gotham City Sirens project, which would seem to be tabled in favor of this terrible Joker romance?
I’m starting to wonder how many DC movies we actually end up seeing, is all. DC Films seem disorganized right now, and have apparently decided that doubling down on the Joker is the way to go. At this point, I’m waiting for them to announce a stand-alone LEGO Joker movie and another version of the Justice League but everyone is cats.
Here’s Jared Leto out for lunch and at Extra yesterday in LA.