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By most standards, the DC Extended Universe has been very successful. Aquaman broke a billion dollars worldwide and isn’t completely done yet. Wonder Woman received critical acclaim and has been heralded as the first female superhero movie hit, paving the way for Marvel’s Captain Marvel and others. Its average over the six films produced so far is surprisingly close to Marvel’s average – $819,153,128 for DCEU versus $839,943,811 for MCU.
The problem is the “big” movies for DCEU have flopped, especially when compared to the big movies by the MCU. Their Justice League series has already lost its two lead actors and were both panned by critics. Compare that to the three Avengers movies plus Captain America: Civil War and it would seem like the DCEU has hit its peak while the MCU is wrapping up a successful 23-movie run that’s going to spawn even bigger things in the near future.
Enter Joaquin Phoenix. He is going to be playing the Joker, and not as a replacement for Jared Leto’s Joker from Suicide Squad. It’s complicated.
Judging by the trailer above, one would think this could be a nice spin to the whole direction of the DCEU. Considering the biggest problem other than very poor scripts is a batch of superheroes who are essentially unstoppable together. That makes for challenges relating to the real world. Marvel is addressing this by heading out into space more for their next round of movies while keeping the neighborhood feel for the “lesser” superheroes like Spiderman. But the DCEU is already over the top.
The problem they now have is trying to bring it all back down to earth, and that’s not going to happen with Joaquin Phoenix. What we’re likely going to see is a very strong, artistic standalone that critics will probably like (unless it’s awful), one that has zero influence over the greater DCEU. So what does that mean? It means the DCEU is destined to continue with no direction, less continuity, and an embarrassingly weak offering compared to their counterparts in the MCU.
Whatever happens with the DCEU, the Joker movie looks like it might be the gritty, sinister flick many of us have been wanting to see in the superhero genre since Netflix unceremoniously killed off their down-to-earth offerings.
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