In the past decade, Marvel has reigned over the comic book film genre with an iron fist. It seemed after Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, that saw its final release The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, nothing DC put out could match arguably their best films, well, ever.
And that comes as no surprise – Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League all failed to live up to expectations. Jared Leto’s Joker was seen as a butchery of a character that cinema screens had last seen portrayed by Heath Ledger, a performance nearly impossible to follow. Still, there was some redemption – the female-led Wonder Woman and Birds of Prey opened to far better reviews, sizing up to be contenders to Marvel’s latest solo-hero releases.
Last year, it finally seemed that Marvel’s domination was coming to an end. With the departure of Iron Man, Black Widow and Captain America in Avengers: Endgame, losing three fan favourites meant producers were searching for a new group of heroes to continue the MCU. Tom Holland’s Spiderman, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, and the Guardians of the Galaxy seem likely contenders but may never reach the same heights as their predecessors, which is not surprising. The releases of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame seemed to be more than just films, they were global events that we all held our breath waiting for, a feat only seen before with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.
It seemed DC was fighting a losing battle, until autumn last year. Todd Phillips’ Joker, with Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role, changed the tide for DC in a tremendous way. Being nominated for 9 Oscars, people knew that this was special from the get-go. More character study than a typical origin story action film, Phillips’ approach changed the way we think about comic book adaptions. No longer do we have to watch numerous fight scenes, cheesy jokes, and happy endings. Instead, Joker took a well-known character and surprised us all with an artistic, moody portrayal that showed exactly where DC should focus.
At the DC FanDome, fans were treated to sneak peeks of DC’s upcoming offerings, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman: 1984, and The Batman. All three were uncharacteristically thrilling, and hype began online that DC hadn’t seen since the Nolan days. Most exciting of all was Matt Reeves’ The Batman, with Robert Pattinson donning the cowl of the masked hero. Known for his portrayal of brooding vampire Edward Cullen, Pattinson was an ideal choice for Reeves’ darker exploration of Bruce Wayne, which thankfully, after a long line of origin stories, is set in his second year of crime-fighting. Twitter went wild for the trailer release, including shots of Pattinson in smudged eyeliner and an all-star cast lineup that sees Paul Dano and Colin Farrell as The Riddler and The Penguin respectively, a refreshing break from The Joker. Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman and Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s extremely English butler, prove that comic book films have taken on a new image in the post-Joker era, gathering a cast of Hollywood royalty that promises the performances of a lifetime.
We’re undoubtedly entering into the renaissance of DC films. With a roster that goes beyond even that of Marvel, it’s likely these next few years will see DC return to being the hot topic on everyone’s lips, after a decade in the shadow of the Avengers. It’s now DC’s world, and we’re all living in it.
Image Credit: Animated Times