A new "team" picture of the Justice League, showing the Flash, Batman, and Wonder Woman, was released on Tuesday night. That's half the team - Aquaman, Cyborg, and (obvious spoiler is obvious) Superman will make up the rest of the league. And somehow, people who watched Man of Steel, and then Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and then saw Suicide Squad, still managed to get excited about this movie. Unfortunately, it's getting all too clear now that DC is determined to follow in Marvel's footsteps, and that includes revisiting its missteps.
Over the last few - well, several - years, Marvel has delivered a string of huge hits, most of which were also extremely enjoyable movies. There were a few films that fell a little flat - such as Captain America: Civil War, and before that, Avengers: Age of Ultron - and these suffered from the same problem, that things are getting too crowded. If you're a dedicated comic book fan, then these movies are a treat, just to see all your favourite characters quipping and fighting on the big screen.
On the other hand, as movies, these overly long (yet somehow strapped for time) movies fail to deliver, as they're not really ensemble movies. In a film like Ocean's Eleven, everyone on the crew might have a part to play, but they don't all need to get their own solo moments, or equal screen time. If you have to set aside 10 minutes for the Hulk and Iron Man to fight, or you need to set aside another ten minutes for Captain America and the Winter Soldier to rediscover their friendship, because of the needs of the shared universe, then you're cutting into the time that is actually spent on the film people are paying to watch.
Luckily, after each misstep, Marvel was able to launch a smaller movie focused on a single narrative arc, and in each case, it delivered a great dose of fun. Guardians of the Galaxy was an example of how to actually do an ensemble movie, with Chris Pratt's Peter Quill as the star of the show. Ant-Man was a hilarious heist movie, while Doctor Strange managed to recapture the feeling of watching Iron Man for the first time.
With DC, on the other hand, we have Man of Steel, with Krypton-sized plot holes, then we go from one hero to three with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and in between we got Suicide Squad which had the six villains, plus Flagg and Katana, and of course Enchantress and Waller eating up a lot of screen time. What promised to be redemption for DC ended up being its worst film yet.
Somehow, this doesn't fill us with confidence about the Justice League movie. DC wants to build a shared universe, just like Marvel, and it's tried to bring its heroes together organically in Dawn of Justice, while Suicide Squad went for the ensemble approach like Guardians of the Galaxy. Neither of those really worked, and now it seems that it's taking notes from Civil War, and cramming in more people than it can handle into one movie. Characters will have to be introduced, motivations explained, and judging by what we've seen from the studio thus far, it's not exactly inspiring much faith.
Movie deals are now decided a dozen movies ahead - DC has announced dates for several upcoming movies. Unfortunately they keep making money - at least in their first weeks - and that means that these movies are just going to keep coming. We can only hope now that DC takes a look at all the critical feedback it's been getting (and the second week's drop in numbers) to realise that if it made better movies, it would make even more money. Instead of continuously trying to one-up itself, it needs to be able to take a step back and try and focus on a smaller story. Like Batman beating up mobsters, without the fate of the planet hanging in the balance, maybe?