So it looks like the DCEU is all the rage these days when it comes to headlines, but it's still not feeling like that's a good thing. It looks like Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam will be opening to some pretty impressive domestic & global box office numbers. But as for reviews, well… that's a different story. As of this writing, the film's rocking 54% on the Rotten Tomatoes "Tomatometer" (after 93 critics' reviews). While there may have been high hopes that a successful combination of box office & reviews could be used to ignite a conversation about how this was a turning point for the DCEU. But as it stands right now, it looks like the film's opening weekend could lead to more questions than it answers. And since Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) head David Zaslav made it clear from the jump that bringing prestige back to the DCEU was a top priority, that's not a good thing. So being the television-obsessed TV Editor that I am, I'm offering up some key questions that I hope are at least being asked, if not being answered, as a way of righting the ship.
Dear WBD Boss David Zaslav: Arrowverse & Other Points
Will Warner Bros. Discovery Still Be "Warner Bros. Discovery" in 2025? Right from the start, Zaslav needs to address the growing rumblings that WBD is here to stay and not just cleaning itself up for a sale to Comcast in a couple of years. Because if he can't, then folks aren't going to be interested in signing up for a long-term DCEU game plan that might not make it three years. Whoever the DCEU "Kevin Feige" is going to be, they need to know they have the space and the time to get things done. So right off the bat, get that message out. Assuming that you're able to do that…
So Are You a Multiverse or Not? Right now, WBD has a ton of DCEU "side universes," from Todd Phillips' Joker and Matt Reeves' The Batman to James Gunn's The Suicide Squad/Peacemaker. And that's fine. But we all know Zaslav wants a "core" universe to build "The Big 3" (Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman) and then others from. So a line needs to be drawn before more cinematic & streaming "variants to the sacred timeline" start happening. But this is where a "Kevin Feige" is a must because you will need someone who can keep a number of egos stroked at the same time. Because a "multiverse" with a core DCU within it could be the very thing that differentiates the DCEU from the MCU.
Stop Trying to Imitate Marvel Studios! Aside from needing a "Kevin Feige," WBD needs to stop trying to adopt the Marvel Studios playbook because it doesn't apply to today. That's what's so brilliant about it. It read the tea leaves and understood where the theater experience was going and the potential that streaming was only just beginning to show. But that was a plan for its time, a 2o22 plan. WBD is trying to run a 10-year-old playbook during a time when streaming is as big of a player as ever (even if Zaslav disagrees to what degree). If Marvel Studios was running its play in these times, a streaming series plan would be in place to complement the films and speed up the building of a cohesive shared universe. Right now, it vibes that Zaslav wants the vast majority of attention focused on the film side, and I'm not sure that's not a bit short-sighted.
Want to Do Right by the DCEU? Look to the "Arrowverse"! WBD can "Michael Bay" the living s**t out over every one of their films coming out, and it still won't mask what really does work for the DCEU. Want to know what Henry Cavill's Superman, James Gunn's The Suicide Squad/Peacemaker & Shazam! have in common? Viewers are presented with characters that they can relate to & connect with, portrayed by actors who vibe that they were made for those roles instead of just another big-name money grab. And it makes a big difference. Look no further than how long the calls have gone out by fans over Cavill being underutilized as The Man of Steel (a mistake Zaslav appears intent on fixing). In fact, Zaslav & the WBD folks have a perfect example of how successful this approach can be in its own backyard. Yup, The CW's "Arrowverse."
Because when you're putting on full seasons of spandex drama on a broadcast network, you don't have the luxury of hiding behind big budgets & big effects. What worked, beginning with Arrow, running through a number of series over the years (Batwoman, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Black Lightning & more) and continuing through the final episode of The Flash (Superman & Lois and DC's Stargirl aren't "Arrowverse" proper), is that the Arrowverse reminded us that our heroes' (and villains') lives were just as important outside of the costumes as they are when they're throwing down with that season's "big bad." Viewers begin to care about these people as members of their "television family," and encouraging is never a bad thing. Unless you cancel Batwoman and DC's Legends of Tomorrow because then you're going to rightfully hear about it. No proper series wrap-ups? Seriously? Anyway… sorry… got distracted.
So there you have it, Zaslav & folks with really long titles who make 897% more than I do on an annual basis. Just some friendly, unsolicited advice that comes from a place of tough love but with an optimistic heart. Because a world where we don't have Superman, Wonder Woman & Batman regularly teaming up on our screens just feels… sad.