Things are not looking good for the DCEU.
Granted, that’s to be expected, considering that the entire franchise is pinned up primarily on the back of brand appeal, without having ever delivered a universally celebrated classic film.
Among the chaotic desperation that DC’s executives are experiencing, there’s a real need for the studio to knock one out of the park in order to reassure everyone that things are going to be okay with their brand long term.
Unfortunately, this means that a lot of panicking studio bosses are squeezing movie directors and producers a little too much, leading to even more turmoil. It’s kind of like that time when you were at school and you worried so much about an important exam that you stayed up half the night, had a couple of beers to calm your nerves, and then found yourself half-naked in front of your entire school, having eaten your exam paper out of exhaustion and confusion.
It’s happened to all of us.
Now, following the wonderful catch-all term that is “creative differences”, Rick Famuyiwa has quit work on The Flash. Famuyiwa is the second director to decide that the project is going down the tubes, and whoever takes on the job next probably has their work cut out for them convincing everyone that the movie’s not going to be a total disaster.
So what’s gone wrong with the movie? According to Famuyiwa, it seems that DC got spooked by the director’s decision to try showing any kind of artistic originality:
“I pitched a version of the film in line with my voice, humor, and heart. While it’s disappointing that we couldn’t come together creatively on the project, I remain grateful for the opportunity. I will continue to look for opportunities to tell stories that speak to a fresh generational, topical, and multicultural point of view.”
It sounds an awful lot like DC has learned all the wrong lessons from Batman v Superman. Having let an insane lunatic run riot on Man of Steel and its follow up, the studio realized that giving Zack Snyder complete creative control of a group of characters that he actively detests probably wasn’t the best plan.
Hence, DC has instead decided that no director should have any room for personal expression in any of their movies.
This is why Suicide Squad was heavily reshot and re-edited to make it more “fun” (the term is used loosely here as a synonym for “confusing”).
It’s also why a “topical” and “multicultural” perspective on the Flash didn’t sit well with DC. Their movies are already controversial enough as it is, without addressing human rights issues or catering to a need for better ethnic representation!
The sad thing is, it’s unlikely that DC will realize its folly here. They’ve found themselves yet again plagued by a director who refuses to make a cookie-cutter movie, and they’re likely to interpret this as a need to be more controlling and manipulative toward any future creators that they bring on board.
It wouldn’t be that much of a surprise if DC replaces Rick Famuyiwa with a tripod or a shop window mannequin.
All the studio really wants is someone to keep the camera steady.