When reshoots were announced for Suicide Squad, rumors sprung up that they were ordered by Warner Brothers to lighten its tone. Denials came fast and furious, but it appears that there was some truth to Warners desire to course correct its DC Comics film universe.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal (article hidden behind a paywall), DC Entertainment president Geoff Johns and production executive Jon Berg tell the paper that they are pursuing a more optimistic track with the DC films going forward:
Mistakenly in the past I think the studio has said, ‘Oh, DC films are gritty and dark and that’s what makes them different.’ That couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a hopeful and optimistic view of life. Even Batman has a glimmer of that in him. If he didn’t think he’d make tomorrow better, he’d stop.
That’s all well and good, but there is another quote that sells the change as a positive one for me.
We’re trying to take a really hard look at everything to make sure we stay true to the characters and tell stories that celebrate them.
That is what the DC Expanded Universe needs, and that is the secret of Marvel Studios’ box office dominance. Marvel films don’t do so good because they are funny, but because they capture the essence of the characters in their big screen offerings.
The ‘grim and gritty” approach dates all the way back eight years to the Jeff Robinov era at Warners. He was really obsessed with making every DC superhero film as dark as Nolan’s Dark Knight series, thinking that was the path to success. That was like thinking that since your wife liked her black car, you should paint everything she owns black. Don’t be surprised if she is angry that her wedding dress is now coal-colored.
And adding humor and levity just for the sake of adding it isn’t a solution either. Just as Superman shouldn’t be killing people, Batman shouldn’t be cracking jokes either. Approaching each character on an individual basis and staying true to them is a correct course correction. Let’s hope Warners lest Johns and Berg alone to do that.