There was something all too familiar in the air when early Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice reactions were merrily tweeted to the internet. The sentiments were similar to what was seen with the lackluster-in-retrospect Man of Steel. First, it was called “amazing.” And then it was just “decent.” Today, many consider Man of Steel a subpar superhero film with frustrating and largely unnecessary changes to the Superman lore. The particular vision that Zack Snyder represented as a contrast to Marvel hasn’t been universally embraced, either.
And since Snyder appears to have complete creative control of the DCCU, the ongoing panning of Batman v Superman should shake Warner Bros. and DC to the core.
The good news is Batman v Superman will likely have a record-breaking debut. According to MoviePilot, it’s already on track to make a whopping $400 million worldwide within the first week. It’s hard to believe anyone could call this film a flop. However, with Rotten Tomatoes giving Batman v Superman a 33 percent “rotten” rating, this could be the best-performing flop in movie history.
How so? Well, remember most of these are advance ticket orders; with comic book movie fans determined to see it first, for themselves, and no matter what. Audiences and critics have sharply disagreed about whether or not a film was watchable throughout the history of cinema. If moviegoers love this film, it could do extremely well despite the rating.
The “audience liked it” score currently sits at 80 percent. Yesterday, it was 84 percent. We’ll have to wait until about Sunday to gauge whether audiences agree or disagree with critics. If word of mouth (which travels fast) finds that Batman v Superman is garbage, that’s when the real drama begins.
A front-loaded performance in theaters isn’t a good look for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie that DC/Warner Bros. intended to use as a launching pad for their entire cinematic universe. If the film manages to gross a few hundred million and then stall (most successful superhero movies cruise towards the billion dollar mark and beyond), it could mean that future DC movies become a hard sell.
That’s something that could send Warner Bros. into panic mode, nixing a bunch of planned projects and returning to “safe” territory: Future Batman films. It’s quite possible that Batman v Superman has sunk any future interest in a standalone Superman film for quite some time, leaving the character of Batman the only familiar character that’s visibly profitable. That Ben Affleck’s turn as Batman is the most universally praised aspect of Batman v Superman (as reported by the Daily Mail) is worrying for this reason.
The silver lining on this front is Gal Gadot also got plaudits for her portrayal of Wonder Woman, with Batman v Superman marking the first time the superheroine appeared on the big screen. The negative reviews will put an additional ton of pressure on Wonder Woman movie runners; that film will be forced to carry the torch for any hope of a standalone movie project in the near future that isn’t about Batman.
One thing is for certain: A poorly received Batman v Superman following a lackluster Man of Steel could severely dim expectations for the upcoming Justice League: Part 1. If DC/Warner Bros. wants to catch up to Marvel/Disney, which is already in the midst of Phase III of their universe-building prospects, they may want to reconsider tying their cinematic universe to Zack Snyder. And soon.
The emerging criticism of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is pretty harsh. Will it stop you from seeing the movie? Please share why or why not in the comment section below!
[Image via Warner Bros./MovieClips Trailers]