The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has seen its fair share of critical misfires, from “Batman v. Superman” to “Suicide Squad” and “Justice League,” but all hope isn’t lost. During an appearance on Kevin Smith’s podcast “Fat Man on Batman,” Marvel Cinematic Universe screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus offered their advice on how the DCEU can be saved, and it turns out less is more when it comes to building a gigantic movie universe.
“I would look at what Marvel did, out of necessity, in that they didn’t have their A-list characters [at the beginning],” Markus said. “They didn’t have Spider-Man, they didn’t have the X-Men, and they went down the line and found [other characters].”
Markus pointed to Iron Man kicking off the MCU a decade ago. While the character has since become one of the most popular superheroes in the world, Iron Man wasn’t a guarantee for success in 2008. Marvel also took risks with untested properties like “Ant-Man,” “Thor,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” all of which turned their superheroes into box office gold.
“[Iron Man] wasn’t there, and they made a really good movie out of it,” Markus said. “I might put Batman and Superman and everybody else, I mean, Wonder Woman is doing fine, aside for a second and go through the vast world and go ‘that guy, or that girl’ and go, ‘let’s just make a really good movie and not a universe and see what happens.’ You know, there’s a lot of spaghetti being thrown at the wall.”
McFeely followed by tipping his hat to “Justice League” and agreeing with Markus. According to McFeely, the best thing the DCEU could do moving forward is to stop thinking about universe building.
“My familiarity with the DC universe is not that great, so I mean I can just go sort of strategically, it’s make one right,” McFeely said. “To quote ‘Justice League,’ ‘Save one person.’”
Markus and McFeely have become the screenwriting backbone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The two started their MCU careers with “Captain America: The First Avenger” and have written “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and the upcoming fourth “Avengers” movie. The duo also did a script polish on James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” screenplay.
While the DCEU has been struggling in recent years, the universe hopes to get back on track with its upcoming releases. Jason Momoa’s standalone “Aquaman” movie opens this Christmas, while Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot are currently shooting the “Wonder Women” sequel, which is scheduled for November 2019.