10 Executive Orders Walter Hamada Should Immediately Issue To Fix The DC Films Universe

Out-of-continuity spinoffs, an uncertain lineup of films, a potential reboot in Flashpoint and brand new leadership at the top. Can the DC Film Universe be saved? We've got some ideas for Walter Hamada.

In the wake of the toxic response to Batman v Superman, Warner Bros. named Jon Berg and Geoff Johns co-Film Chairs of the DC Extended Universe (unofficial name).   That was May 2016.  Their brief partnership spearheading the DC Films Universe would see Wonder Woman released to both box office success and positive fan and critic reception but that film wrapped in May 2016 so Berg likely had very little to do with what Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins achieved.  Johns on the overhand, helped write the film. 

Justice League began filming in April, one month before Wonder Woman wrapped.  So again, it's likely Berg had very little input on the decision-making on that production.  Yet in the wake of Justice League's flop, Berg is out and Walter Hamada has been named his replacement.  If he wants to avoid the same fate as Berg, here are some snap decisions he should make to right the DCEU ship.

Cut The Budgets - Think John Wick Not John Carter

Hamada is best known for producing It, The Conjuring and a host of other horror films.  Something each of Hamada's features have in common is a modest budget.  It, only cost $35 million to make and grossed $698.8 million.  The Conjuring was made for $20 million and went on to earn $319.5 million. 

After multiple failures, it's time to stop repeatedly setting the stage for John Carter-esque failures and think about how to make a John Wick-like superhero film (which grossed $88.8M from $29.7M).  Sure, the likelihood of modest returns are greater than producing a box office juggernaught but sometimes it's smarter to position for a line double instead of a homerun.   Besides, a $30 million dollar flop is easier to mitigate than a $300 million dollar blockbuster that under-performs.  Keep in mind, the first Deadpool film was made for a mere $58 million USD.

Rethink The Current Line-Up: Lose The Green Screen And Go Street-Level Not Cosmic

If we're slashing budgets, that means rethinking the current lineup of DC Films.  VFX-heavy spectacles such as a Green Lantern or Cyborg should be shelved for the time being until the DC Films Universe finds its rhythm and produces a successful, proven template- they don't need to follow the MCU formula but they need to find one that works. 

With that said, the DC Films Universe should focus on more characters like Batman, street-level heroes that punch and out-think their foes instead of overwhelming them with fantastical powers.  A Green Arrow, Nightwing, The Question, Deathstroke and Mister Terrific would be fantastic places to start. 

Double Down On Your Only Proven Commodity

So far, the only overwhelming and indisputable success in the DC Films Universe has been Wonder Woman.  Unfortunately, with Justice League already far into production, she played second fiddle to Batman in the Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon project. If audiences love Gal Gadot's take on the Amazonian princess and are mixed-at-best on Ben Affleck's turn in the cape and cowl, shift focus and priority. 

Batman is arguably the most popular hero in the world and the fact that Ben Affleck's rendition HASN'T produced overwhelming box office returns should tell you something.  

For The Love Of God, Fix Superman

The DC Films Universe started with Superman in Man of Steel.  Yet the focus shifted and pivoted towards the Caped Cruaser in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.  Yes, Superman was a leading character in those films but the spotlight shined the brightest and longest on Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne. 

Again, Batman is arguably the most popular character in the world so it's easy to understand the logic behind the decision-making but the poor execution has likely irreparably damaged this particular take on The Dark Knight.

Make A Decision On What's Happening With The Batman 

Speaking of Ben Affleck, is he going to star in Matt Reeve's solo Batman film or not? WB is giving Affleck a lot of leeway on such a critical decision which is effectively hamstringing any potential reconstruction efforts.  Will Reeve's film be in continuity but feature a younger Dark Knight?  Is Jake Gyllenhaal the favorite to replace Affleck should he depart or is John Hamm the front-runner?

So many questions that could be answered or rendered moot by Hamada simply laying down the law and deciding for Affleck.  With the flop of Live by Night, the under-performance of Justice League and the bad press that surrounds Affleck currently due to his alleged sexual misconduct, his pull at WB likely isn't what it was coming off of Argo in 2012.

Nix The Out-of-Continuity Spinoff Films

Another easy decision Hamada could (and should) make to streamline the DC Films Universe would be to nix the ill-advised plan to have DC superhero films that are set outside of the current continuity.  WB is already 5 films in on the DC Films Universe and has 3 concrete, additional installments (Aquaman, Shazam, Wonder Woman II) coming down the pipeline.  At this stage, it's too late to reverse course and backtrack to the starting point. 

Continue on, pace yourself and finish the race. WB may not finish first but they'll find themselves in a better place than if they were to just up and quit.

Plan Out Your Stories In Advance

If the new Star Wars trilogy has proven anything, it's that it's probably a good idea to plan out how all of your films are going to connect.  Marvel has their continuity roadmapped for the next 20 years. While the DC Film Universe and its character shouldn't necessarily follow the "style" of the MCU films, borrowing its "methodology" would lead to a better cinematic experience when it's time for the Justice League sequel.

More Female Superheroes

As mentioned before, Wonder Woman is the only DCEU installment to perform well at the box office AND earn praise from both fans and film critics.  However, Marvel Studios will soon debut its own Wonder Woman- Captain Marvel.  That's going to lead to inevitable debates about which is the better depiction of a superheroine (just as Justice League was unfairly compared to The Avengers) but WB could quickly sidestep a 1-on-1 fight (that it could very well lose) by stacking the odds with its awesome roster of women superheroes. 

Push forward with Batgirl while adding solo films for Black Canary, Catwoman and Zatanna to the mix.  Marketing itself as a female-driven, superhero cinematic universe would certainly be a way to distinguish itself from the MCU.

Embrace The Golden Age Lore

Starting the cinematic universe with Superman arriving in modern times ignored a rich and spirited history anchored by the likes of Jay Garrick, Alan Scott and Wesley Dodds.  WB effectively bypassed the Golden Age and jumped right into the Silver Age.  While this isn't a glaring omission by any means, it is a missed opportunity. 

A DC Cinematic Universe that began with a Superman who was inspired to don a costume by the likes of the first Flash and Green Lantern would have certainly pleased old school fans and might have won over a larger audience. Affleck's Batman could have received his training from the JSA during the two decades of events that occurred "off-panel". 

Focus On Your Villains (And Don't Make Them Sympathetic)

And by focusing on your villains, that doesn't mean turn them into heroes (i.e. Suicide Squad).  DC Comics leaves Marvel in the dust when it comes to compelling and terrifying villains.  One of the few weaknesses of the MCU is its well-documented villain problem and that's an opportunity WB should look to exploit. 

However, that would require the DC Film Universe to correctly depict its rogues before positioning them as a focal point.  To date, the onscreen characterization of the Joker and Lex Luthor  left many fans wanting, to say the least.
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