9. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
Wonder Woman 1984 Review
Wonder Woman 1984 is perhaps not as “bad” as some films yet to come on this list, but it is arguably the most disappointing DCEU film since Suicide Squad.
First of all, the DCEU had come off the back of a strong run – Aquaman, Shazam! and Birds of Prey were back-to-back predecessors. Then, there was the involvement of director Patty Jenkins, who had not only been responsible for the critical and audience success of the 2017 Wonder Woman film but was by all accounts committed to a vision for the character that she wasn’t going to sacrifice for anything.
What we got, however, was a nostalgia-fuelled first act, a narrative that jumped story beat to story beat with little to no rhyme or reason, the involvement of lots of characters each lacking depth and being largely irrelevant to Wonder Woman’s own story arc, and some troubling politics explained via reductive nonsense, the final act being yet another generic sky beam only this time in the guise of satellite signals promising wish fulfilment through the magic of television.
2017’s Wonder Woman felt timely, necessary, revolutionary even, but 2020’s Wonder Woman 1984 felt messy, ill-conceived, weakly constructed and generally quite bad. As a standalone it has some inspired moments such as the opening shopping mall scene, and mostly it should be considered pointless and forgettable more than terrible, but in the context of being the sequel to the 2017 Wonder Woman film, it’s a source of huge disappointment.
8. Man of Steel (2013)
Man of Steel is overly long, yes, and it isn’t exactly the inspired return to the character that many had hoped for, but it’s not exactly a bad movie; is it?
2013’s Man of Steel sits at number 8 on this list for two major reasons: the first being that it was very long and very slow; the second being that it was hardly a Superman movie and more a Batman movie in different paint, a film that director Zack Snyder made just so he could finally make the Batman movie he’d always dreamt of.
Such unfaithfulness at the head of the film’s creative team makes for another messy DCEU vision, albeit one with moments close to genius – the involvements of Christopher Nolan (as executive producer) and Dark Knight Trilogy composer Hans Zimmer evident in the film’s tone and intentions.
Man of Steel is hardly an audience pleaser, and coming a year after The Dark Knight Rises and Marvel’s The Avengers, audiences had a lot higher expectations than they might have done several years later. As with a lot of the DCEU’s output, Man of Steel is very much a case of good ideas being blended with bad ideas, expectation overcoming reality, a “what could have been” filled with all the tropes of the genre that many had grown tired of by 2013 and even less are enthused about all these years later.
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7. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Of all the DCEU movies released so far, few have met the ire of the general public quite like Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
“Where’s Martha?!” has become a meme, Snyder’s dark and violent vision ripped apart for its perceived shallowness and inappropriateness, but the moments in which this overly long and typically messy DCEU movie gets its act together are genuinely terrific. There are parts of Batman v Superman, or at least moments, that are some of the best and most memorable in all of the DCEU.
One standout aspect of BvS is the presentation of the Batman, now older and more traumatised by an adult life of nightly crime fighting; and Ben Affleck’s performance is one to savour – the actor projecting grief and a soft boil of righteous anger under every glance and seemingly insignificant exchange of dialogue. Snyder finally got to make his Batman movie, and while this meant that Superman took a backseat for long periods in what was perceived to be his own sequel, this dichotomy worked in setting up the long-awaited battle of the World’s Greatest Detective and the Man of Steel.
The brief moments of battle between the two heaviest of comic book superhero heavyweights were enthralling and imaginative, and were rightly focused on the strengths and weaknesses of each character, so whilst the plot was often tangential and characters were forced into the movie to sell some merchandise, Batman v Superman was a victim of expectation and the success of the Dark Knight Trilogy, a movie terrific in parts but not at all as sophisticated, tight or rapid as the Batman movies that had come before and the films that Marvel had begun to perfect.
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