Ever wanted a behind-the-scenes take on how desperate Warner Bros. was for the DCEU to be like the MCU? Variety reports that screenwriter David S. Goyer went into detail about the rapid creation of WB’s ill-fated cinematic universe while on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast. And as one would imagine, WB’s plans to build the DCEU were all over the place.
While recalling the “revolving door of executives” that each had plan to build the DCEU, Goyer suggested that Warner Bros. shouldn’t have tried to create a cinematic universe to rival the MCU. Instead, the studio should have gone their own way and developed a standalone sequel to the “Man Of Steel” instead. But with Marvel Studios taking over the industry, Warner Bros. felt they needed to mimic their competition. The only problem was the studio didn’t have a concrete plan in place.
“I know the pressure we were getting from Warner Bros., which was, ‘We need our MCU! We need our MCU!’ And I was like let’s not run before we walk,” Goyer recalled. “The other thing that was difficult at the time was there was this revolving door of executives at Warner Bros. and DC. Every 18 months someone new would come in. We were just getting whiplash. Every new person was like, ‘We’re going to go bigger!’” It sounds like ever higher-up wanted to mimic the MCU model, but didn’t have anything beyond a rudimentary, reactionary plan.
“I remember at one point the person running Warner Bros. at the time had this release that pitched the next 20 movies over the next 10 years. But none of them had been written yet!” Goyer continued. “It was crazy how much architecture was being built on air… This is not how you build a house.” And Goyer is right. The DCEU never got off the ground in terms of popularity and commercial success like Marvel movies did. And the DCEU’s last handful of releases and its rebranding to the DCU under new studio heads James Gunn and Peter Safran speak to its chaotic planning. No DCEU film since 2018’s “Aquaman” has been a runaway success, with most of them barely breaking even at the box office.
Goyer’s perspective on the DCEU is valuable because he was there from its inception. After working with Christopher Nolan on the “Dark Knight” trilogy, he and Nolan started work on a Superman movie that eventually became Zack Snyder‘s 2013 blockbuster “Man Of Steel,” with Goyer penning that film’s script. That film fared okay at the box office, but not so much with critics, which may have caused Warner Bros. to pivot away from a standalone sequel and make “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice” instead.
Would not haphazardly following the Marvel model been a better call for Warner Bros. and their DC properties? Maybe, maybe not. But the MCU caught lightning in a bottle that the DCEU clearly did not replicate. And while movie culture suffers from general Marvel exhaustion, Warner Bros. didn’t help things by saturating the movie market for the past decade with creatively inert superhero movies. If the studio went in the direction Goyer wanted to, the superhero movie would still be a tired genre, but maybe Warner Bros. makes less middling movies and the DC brand retains some of its public allure. Will Gunn and Safran’s hard reset wipe the slate clean? Only time will tell there.