I think we can all agree that yesterday’s new Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice trailer was pretty dope. But will it be enough to rescue the fortunes of Warner Bros., whose movie slate of late has been a series of costly flops, from Pan to In the Heart of the Sea. It’s common wisdom that BvS is one of the most important movies ever for WB as they attempt to launch a counterattack to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a full slate of superhero movies.
A couple of reputable movie site pundits have weighed in on the possible future of this slate. Over at HitFix, Drew McWeeny hints darkly that film has not been received all that well now that it’s being test screened:
“Warner is a little bit worried. This movie is starting to scare them. They’re showing it to people now, people are actually laying eyes on the film, and the response has not been exactly what they wanted.”
He says as a result, the Justice League movie (now slated for 2017 with Zack Snyder directing) may be moved back and proceed WITHOUT Snyder, while the planned Ben Affleck starring Batman standalone will be pushed forward. This is due to some jitters over the film, with Affleck and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor being the people’s choice from the film. (You’ll note the new trailer is very Superman-lite.)
McWeeny gives a picture of a WB movie making team that is “looking at the entire slate from a position of panic. It’s got to make a billion dollars for people to keep their jobs.” and as is blatantly obvious, there is no Kevin Feige at WB. “There is no hand guiding this,” says McWeeny. “They’ve gotten way ahead on plans, and if they don’t work, [you] don’t know what to do.”
Well, Umberto Gonzalez of Heroic Hollywood was back to refute all this on his regular Periscope. I was interrupted from listening to this by a neighbor’s flooded toilet at 2 am (a rare clog/running/broken valve triple play, I’m told) but Gonzalez says there is no way Snyder is gone, and while there may be some nerves at WB given the recent troubles, “no way [BvS] doesn’t make $1 billion. Maybe they spent a little bit more than they were comfortable spending, but Zack Snyder is not in danger.” He does suspect that the Batman movie will be fast-tracked but charitably suggests “Let’s give them a chance to breathe a little.”
I’d guess both of these reports are true enough as far as they go. My entire key to understanding the WB comes from a conversation I had a few years ago at San Diego when I was randomly seated next to a former WB writer who told me “The problem is, the studio just doesn’t like or get superheroes.” And indeed, if you look at the long, long history of misfires and aborted efforts at WB from Nicholas Cage Superman, to George Miller JLA to an earlier, abandoned, Baman V Superman, to the leaden Green Lantern, you’ll sense moviemakers badly out of their comfort zone and just taking a shot in the dark and then regretting it.
According to McWeeny, this year’s Batman v Superman was greenlit only two days before it was announced at Comic-Con in 2013, surely a “We’ve got to give this a try!” move. The current WB studio heads seem to have more innate understanding of the importance of superheroes then did the prior regimes. But there is still a studio culture that doesn’t quite get it, and it’s an uphill battle. Thus BvS, arguably the start of the biggest film franchise yet, opening in March and not the higher stakes summer window. They couldn’t risk going up against Marvel, and didn’t trust the movie to succeed.
One thing seems to be certain though: the time has never been better for Wonder Woman. Finally!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.