COLUMN: Whether the DC Universe Should Start Over After 'Suicide - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

COLUMN: Whether the DC Universe Should Start Over After 'Suicide Squad'


I’ve written and rewritten this column about 10 times, and I keep coming back to the same conclusion -- we deserve better.

I was extremely excited about "Suicide Squad," had faith in director David Ayer, and taking things even further back to this past December, penned a column on how 2016 could be the best year for superhero movies yet. After "Batman v Superman" and now "Squad," I believe I was wrong.

While some fans have gotten behind the latest DC Comics-inspired offering, reviews have been some of the most scathing I can recall for a movie with such hype and a star-studded cast. I can understand the split. The movie has its moments, supported by fine work from the likes of Margot Robbie, Viola Davis and Will Smith. So, fans with little knowledge of the comics or simply looking for a fun night of escapism, might like “Squad.” And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But as a fan of the genre and someone who has seen these movies develop over the last 15 years, and even earlier with the classic “Superman” flicks, I can’t help but feel disappointed and even a bit insulted by the story lines (and editing) coming out of the DC Universe. Plot holes just seem to be ignored and you can’t always say, “Well, it’s a comic movie.”

Put aside all the talk of "DC vs. Marvel,” the “directors vs. the critics” and the millions of dollars that “Dawn of Justice” and “Squad” have raked in this year. If you add in 2013’s “Man of Steel,” you have three disparate films that don’t feel like much of a coherent universe at all, and fail to excite or inspire.

In contrast, we’ve watched as Marvel slowly built an amazing universe, with some sub-par movies, I'll admit (who remembers the second "Thor"?), but overall a story that keeps twisting and turning, with ingenious stories at the core of it all. Every time I feel like the overall story is falling flat, they pull out an “Ant-Man,” with surprisingly fresh takes on the genre plus great casting. Or we get a “Captain America: Civil War,” which could have been a complete disaster, but instead introduced a new Spider-Man in such an organic way that now fans are excited for the third iteration of the web-slinger since 2002. DC has yet to accomplish this feat, minus Zack Snyder's trailers, which have been epic.

It pains me to write this because in my eyes, Superman, Batman and company are the crown jewels of superhero storytelling. Marvel has more relatable heroes, living in real cities like Manhattan, but DC is classic. And let me be clear, if you’re for Marvel, you still want DC to succeed.

If you tell a good Batman story, it just doesn't get any better. (Think “The Dark Knight.”) If you release a good Superman film (cough, cough Christopher Reeve), it can inspire millions and create a lasting beacon of hope. It can create a legend.

A Story Old as Time ... or at Least Comic Books

Picture if you will, a 5ish-year-old Jewish kid with a bowl cut and tons of curiosity. Only thing is he didn't immediately take to reading. That kid would obviously grow up to be a handsome, accomplished, award-winning writer for ABC News, but at the time, he lacked focus and his imagination ran wild. If you haven't picked up on my sarcasm, like Eminem once wrote, "that boy was me."

So, what did his parents and teachers do? They introduced him to comics and cards. It opened my world.

Aside from hitting up conventions and making friends at the local comic book shop, I can remember waiting for the day of big releases. "The Death of Superman" or Batman's "Knightfall" were a few of the watershed moments in my childhood that we've recently seen played out on screen.

Director Chris Nolan was able to rise to the occasion and tell a compelling Batman story that took me back to those joyous and scary moments seeing Bane jump off the pages, taking Batman over his knee and "breaking" the Caped Crusader in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

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