When we fans saw Man of Steel, we were saddened by the unsympathetic, unheroic Superman we saw on the big screen. Zack Snyder’s cynical approach to the source material reached a new low in the Superman saga when he had the Man of Tomorrow commit murder in front of the whole movie going world. The new Snyder film, Batman v Superman, played so fast and loose with the characterizations of the main characters that it felt unreal. Ben Affleck’s Batman turned out to be one of the stronger, more authentic elements; Gal Godot’s Wonder Woman was a breath of fresh air. The rest of the film, though, looked like two movies crammed into one as Snyder used every trick in the book to crunch the plot into tiny box and pretend it was a finished film.
The disrespect for the material, and for the fans, did not go unnoticed. Batman v Superman will make its money back, but it was nowhere near the blockbuster Warner Bros. was hoping for. It has become abundantly clear to Warner Bros. that they need a massive course correction for their comic book movies. Zach Snyder was going to be the guiding hand for all the DC Comics movies until 2020. The good news is that Zach Snyder is now officially out of the picture.
Warner Bros. is starting by putting Jon Berg and Geoff Johns in charge of all the new DC Entertainment-centered films from this point forward. This is part of a major overhaul in the way the Burbank-based studio handles them, putting a pair of executives who really really understand the genre in charge. Geoff Johns is already DC’s creative director, who successfully launched DC’s emergence in television. He’s being partnered with Jon Berg, who is Warner’s Executive VP of Creative Development and Production. Berg knows how the studio works and has the clout to get things done, while Johns knows the franchises better than anybody else in the business right now. Together they’ll steer the DC Comics movie universe away from that oncoming iceberg.
The DC Comics movie problem is really just the tip of that iceberg. Warner Bros. has been putting out a disappointing run of movies over all, and producers and filmmakers alike have been having trouble working with the studio to get things done. The big change is that now, all the execs will report to Warner Bros. Pictures president Greg Silverman, but now we’ll be seeing movies clustered by genre. Courtenay Valenti, for example, will now oversee all LEGO projects as well as the Harry Potter line that begins with November’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Senior production execs Jesse Ehrman and Niija Kuykendall will focus more on comedy/family and sci-fi/action, respectively, according to sources.
Warner has strong motivation to shake the box. Fans ripped into Zack Snyder for the unheroic behavior in Man of Steel, as well as its dark, un-Superman tone. Batman v Superman, a movie with a title that sounds more like a law suit than a motion picture, cost at least $300 million to make, and has grossed less than $870 million worldwide since its March 25 release. By contrast, Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War is heading towards $1 billion in less than two weeks of release.
Geoff Johns won’t be leaving DC to go work for Warner Bros. Instead, he’s just adding filmmaking to his portfolio, and he’ll be staying where he is.
Maybe putting somebody who understands comics in charge of comic book movies isn’t a bad idea, Warner Bros.
Gee, ya think?