Has Warner Bros/DC found their own Kevin Feige? With DC lagging behind Marvel’s movie franchises, many fixes have been suggested for the struggling DCEU. One of them is that the DCEU needs a single, focused vision to oversee its course, the way Marvel has Kevin Feige as the lord-and-master of the entire MCU. For a time, it seemed like WB/DC had settled on Zack Snyder as their creative mastermind, despite the underwhelming results he’s delivered to them with Watchmen, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. Snyder is still directing Justice League. However, fans can come off the ledge now, because Zack Snyder is no longer the guiding visionary behind the DCEU. Writer Geoff Johns has been hired to team up with Jon Berg in order to co-manage the newly instituted DC Film Division.
WB/DC is taking serious action to overhaul their film universe after several disappointments. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice received a critical savaging, and fell sort of the financial mark the studio needed it to hit (The film needed to make 1.2 billion to make up for multiple financial flops WB released in 2015, but only made $870 million.) WB/DC has been in panic mode ever since, rewriting films (Suicide Squad), dealing with directors leaving projects (Seth Grahame-Smith quitting Flash), or thinking about leaving them (James Wan from Aquaman). Several sources including Batman News say that DC/WB have lost confidence in Zack Snyder but were forced to stick with him in order to keep Justice League on schedule. However, they installed Oscar winning director/writer Ben Affleck—who played the dark knight of Gotham in BvS—as an Executive Producer to work closely with Snyder on every facet of the film, including the script. So it looks like it’s up to Batman to save the Justice League.
These are all short-term fixes for the DCEU. Their long-term solution is to let Johns and Berg take the reins of the new division. Geoff Johns is a popular comic book writer who has served as DC’s Chief Content Officer since 2010 and has written for Smallville. He is currently working with Greg Berlanti on DC superhero TV shows such as Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl. John Berg, WB’s current VP, was already connected to Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League before being appointed to co-run the new film division. The pair seem well-suited to do the job.
WB is trying to unify the different elements of the DC movies by teaming a veteran film executive and a well-regarded, experienced comic book writer, hoping they can duplicate the way Marvel Studios/Disney has produced its films under the vision of Kevin Feige. Now that Johns and Berg have the ball, the have to run with it. They have a lot of work to do, playing catch-up with Marvel, who received rave-reviews for Captain America: Civil War, which is headed quickly toward the coveted $1 Billion mark.
WB/DC still wants the DCEU to be filmmaker driven, but it needs to keep a tighter hand on the controls in order to prevent directors from letting their excesses get the better of them (Ahem, Snyder) and going off the rails. This ‘one-man-with-a-vision’ technique has worked so well for Feige & Marvel that it seems logical—and a long time in coming—for WB/DC to take inspiration from it.
It’s a new beginning for the DCEU and the WB’s DC Film Division. Can Geoff Johns and Jon Berg save the DCEU and make Marvel start sweating from the competition? I hope so. Let’s wait and see.