When DC decided to follow Marvel with an interconnected cinematic universe of its own, there seemed to be equal parts trepidation and anticipation from movie fans. Financially, the DC Extended Universe has been a success from the jump, but the critical reaction to the first several movies Warner Bros. and DC put out was less than effusive, to say the least. And yet, after taking its lumps, the DCEU seems to have made a nice recovery.
So how did that happen? After Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad got roasted by critics, how did the upstart movie universe get back on the right track? According to Kevin Tsujihara, CEO of Warner Bros., it was all about bringing in the right people, and moving away from what has made Marvel so successful.
Speaking with the LA Times in a wide-ranging interview, Tsujihara was asked how the strategy surrounding the DC movie slate has changed for Warner Bros. following what was a rough few years for the DCEU:
The upcoming slate, with “Shazam,” “Joker,” “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Birds of Prey,” feels like we’re on the right track. We have the right people in the right jobs working on it.
The universe isn’t as connected as we thought it was going to be five years ago. You’re seeing much more focus on individual experiences around individual characters. That’s not to say we won’t at some point come back to that notion of a more connected universe. But it feels like that’s the right strategy for us right now.
In other words, while Marvel’s cinematic universe continues to overlap and collapse into itself as all its characters and story lines converge, Warner Bros. is finding more success letting the DC characters exist on their own. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, this revelation seemed to dawn on the studio when Wonder Woman blew up at the box office:
What Patty Jenkins did on “Wonder Woman” illustrated to us what you could do with these characters who are not Batman and Superman. Obviously, we want to get those two in the right place, and we want strong movies around Batman and Superman. But “Aquaman” is a perfect example of what we can do. They’re each unique and the tone’s different in each movie.
The biggest mistake that Warner Bros. made was trying to rush straight into the big superhero team-up before we actually got to know any of these characters. Now that Justice League has come and gone, Warner Bros. has been able to get back to individual stories, and the DCEU has finally started to strike a chord with general audiences.