[DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

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[DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby TFDutchman » Jan 20th, 2016, 2:27 pm



There's something bugging me about DC's Cinematic Universe. It wasn't there to begin with after the release of Man of Steel. It wasn't even there when the first teases for Batman V Superman came out. Now with our very first look at footage from the upcoming Wonder Woman and a whole new trailer for Suicide Squad, the issue is very much embedded in my mind and it's a huge concern moving forward in the DC Universe.




Following the success of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, it appeared as if Warner Bros. would use this as the cornerstone for which they would base their DC Cinematic Universe. The result was a Superman film that took a leap forward and distanced itself from previous movies. Gone was John William's iconic anthem, replaced with Hans Zimmer's upbeat, drum-filled epic score. Man of Steel gave me everything I wanted from a new Superman movie. Action packed, a great origin story, and with great emotion. Anyone who tries to tell you they didn't tear up at the death of Pa Kent is an outright liar. It's a movie that certainly divided the fan base, but overall it was a great start to the DC Cinematic Universe.




Then came our first tastes of Batman V Superman and straight away I had issues. Namely that a movie I felt should've been a Man of Steel sequel had Batman's name put first and that Ben Affleck, who I have never liked as an actor, was cast as Batman. Add to that the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Nowadays Batfleck has won me over, mostly, his synthesized voice is still a disappointing creative choice that I feel will hurt the character, and I still don't like Eisenberg as Luthor. Overall I'm looking forward to it, but it just feels so far down on my list of films I'm excited for. Deadpool, Civil War, Doctor Strange and Suicide Squad all rank above my most anticipated for the year with BVS at the bottom and that's only counting the superhero films out this year.

What started to bug me the more and more I saw of BVS was how "wrong" or different Superman started to feel. Superman in Man of Steel had the right kind of personality, calm demeanour and fortitude that I would expect from the character. The marketing for BVS, however, and likely as a result of his conflict with Batman, has seen nothing but looks hatred, disgust, scowling and outright threats from the man of steel. The iconic symbol of hope just appears so bleak. Even his mother is suggesting the idea that he can be the hero or not if he so chooses as he doesn't owe the world or it's people a damn thing. A far cry from the idealistic hopes and dreams that Pa Kent envisioned for his adopted son in Man of Steel.

This on top of the already dark nature of the film. Something that's starting to become apparent in both films thus far is the dark blue tones and muted colour palette that makes everything seem so dim and bleak.




Then today finally came our first footage of the Wonder Woman movie and this is where my fears really started to set in. Wonder Woman I envisioned to be DC's version of Marvel's Thor. The fantasy character whose film would show a whole new side to the DC Universe. Instead it seems as if Wonder Woman might be a Thor-Captain America blend with her film set in WW1, but that didn't help the unsettling feeling watching the footage that everything was once again sporting a dark blue tone with lots of dark scenes and bleak, muted colour schemes. Not what I was expecting from this film. Again this might be excusable due to the time period in which it's set, but I can't help shake the unsettling feeling that this is a tone that DC have set for their entire roster of films from Aquaman to Flash to Cyborg to the Justice League. Are we going to keep seeing the same dark tones, bluish tinges and the same kind of colour palette?

So much blue.

Take our very first look at Aquaman for example:



Grayscale. Mostly devoid of colour despite the fact that the Aquaman toy...



Quite clearly shows he'll be sporting the green and gold colour scheme of his comic book counterpart. Why is it that our first look at Aquaman has to be this dark, brooding, black and white photo? Already in the back of my mind it's giving off the impression of a film that is going to be no different in tone to that of it's predecessors.

The same can be said of the upcoming Justice League



While there's more colour here it's still very muted and dulled down. No vibrant blues or reds, greens or yellows. It suggests a tone as dark as what we're already seeing in Batman V Superman.



Very decidedly different from the bright and vibrant colours of their comic book counterparts.

And that's where my biggest issue lies. When we start to look at what DC are doing with the Suicide Squad.





Compare the posters for DC's upcoming movies.
The heroes are muted, dull colours, very bleak, emotionless.
The villains are bright, colourful, the posters stand out and catch your attention like a hammer to the face with characters expressing a varied range of emotions.

And the difference only becomes more noticable when you compare their trailers.

Suicide Squad Trailer



Batman V Superman Trailer



Why is it that the villains look like their film is the more fun? More colourful, set to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," more humour, compared to the dark, bleak, and humourless heroes.

Maybe it's me, but this feels like it's the wrong way around. Shouldn't the villains, particularly when you've got a villain as ruthless as The Joker amongst your cast, be the dark, forboding, terrifying killing machines you'd expect them to be and for the heroes to shine brightest as the iconic legends of your childhood? Instead the heroes come across the brooding, dark, solemn types while the villains come across as the lovable fun-filled squad of bad guys you just want to love.

Part of me feels this may be Batman's fault. Batman is considered DC's icon, moreso than Superman, and he's seen the biggest success in cinema, on television, in comics and in games. But just because the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight movies met with huge success doesn't mean you should then be applying this same tone and brooding characteristic to all your characters. The worst victim of this is TV's Green Arrow who comes across as little more than a Batman clone, occassionally stealing Batman's villains and comic book plots, while still calling himself Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow.

Fortunately we have a show like the Flash and seeing how lighthearted and perfect the tone of this series matches the character makes me wish day after day that we can hope to expect to see the same thing when Flash makes his cinematic debut, but right now with everything we've seen so far I am nothing but fearful that the Flash will simply be yet another dark, brooding movie.

As a new parent my daughter isn't old enough yet to see these kinds of movies, but I can say right now that if she were old enough I'd happily show her the Marvel movies by the time she reaches 5. The DC movies, however, if they keep going the way they are in terms on tone and characterisation, I wouldn't show her until she were maybe 8-10 years old. The DC films are most certainly aiming for the older audiences and are less family friendly than their Marvel counterparts and I think that can be damaging if the tone continues as it is with every single one of their characters. It might draw in an older audience, but at the same time risks alienating the younger audiences who might fail to see the same bright and colourful heroes from comics and television that they know and love who have been replaced by darker, colour muted versions of those characters who Warner Bros. have decided to make all their movies in the same tone and style of Batman rather than opting to develop the tone, style and genre of the movie around the personality of the character.

Say what you will about the quality of Marvel's movies, but they know how best to craft the tone and style of their movies around their characters. Iron Man as an action film, Captain America as a thriller, Ant-Man as a comedy, Thor as a fantasy. I can only hope DC will do the same with their characters because if all we're ever going to get is dark and brooding regardless of which character the film is named after, the DC Universe is going to get very tiresome, very quickly.

What do you think?
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby DatBat » Jan 20th, 2016, 2:45 pm

I think it's just a side-effect of bad marketing. The movies will probably be much more vibrant than they appear. Suicide Squad is probably going to be a little bit darker than the recent trailer, they might have done that because of the popularity of GotG and the hype and viral marketing surrounding Deadpool. The first SS trailer was dark and broody and almost kind of creepy. They're probably trying to appeal to mass audiences. The movies themselves will probably be really good (at least some of them, the MCU has some bad apples too). I'm not all that hyped for BvS purely because it just doesn't seem to be a really good movie. Suicide Squad, on the other hand, looks great.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby ChaosThe15th » Jan 20th, 2016, 2:47 pm

Im actually perfectly fine with the darker tone. I like how DC is trying to make more serious character driven superhero films. I think going the more serious route will create superhero films with actual stakes and allow each film to be great on its on, not relying on connecting everything.

Which is I think is a good contrast against Marvel, who seem to have the same playful tone across all their movies. Which frankly, Im tired of. Im really excited for what the DCCU has to offer.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby DatBat » Jan 20th, 2016, 2:52 pm

CHAOS15 wrote:Im actually perfectly fine with the darker tone. I like how DC is trying to make more serious character driven superhero films.

Which is I think is a good contrast against Marvel, who seem to have the same playful tone across all their movies. Which frankly, Im tired of. Im really excited for what the DCCU has to offer.

Mmmhmm

It's to the point where the Marvel movies with two or more of the heroes feel like buddy cop movies. Comic books movies can be funny, but that shouldn't be all they are.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby AW8 » Jan 20th, 2016, 3:00 pm

TFDutchman wrote:Part of me feels this may be Batman's fault. Batman is considered DC's icon, moreso than Superman, and he's seen the biggest success in cinema, on television, in comics and in games. But just because the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight movies met with huge success doesn't mean you should then be applying this same tone and brooding characteristic to all your characters. The worst victim of this is TV's Green Arrow who comes across as little more than a Batman clone, occassionally stealing Batman's villains and comic book plots, while still calling himself Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow.

This is absolutely true, the success of the Dark Knight trilogy coupled with the failure of the bright and colorful Green Lantern is the cause.

It is a little worrying how the heroes might end up as brooding as Batman and the villains as crazy fun as Joker. Batman and Joker are pretty much supposed to be the opposite of the norm - the hero wears black and is serious, while the villain is colorful and funny. Now we have trailers where Superman is scowling and Lex is goofing around. As well as the whole Suicide Squad you mentioned, who comes off as this colorful, fun group.

We'll have to see if they play Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash as tortured heroes defined by tragedy, never fitting in, brooding etc. The lure to simply turn every hero into Batman is difficult to resist. I won't say the franchise is doomed, but it looks like I will continue to have some problems with it. Maybe we'll have to wait until Shazam to break the Batman-mold. :oldyella:
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby DatBat » Jan 20th, 2016, 3:17 pm

AW8 wrote:
TFDutchman wrote:Part of me feels this may be Batman's fault. Batman is considered DC's icon, moreso than Superman, and he's seen the biggest success in cinema, on television, in comics and in games. But just because the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight movies met with huge success doesn't mean you should then be applying this same tone and brooding characteristic to all your characters. The worst victim of this is TV's Green Arrow who comes across as little more than a Batman clone, occassionally stealing Batman's villains and comic book plots, while still calling himself Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow.

This is absolutely true, the success of the Dark Knight trilogy coupled with the failure of the bright and colorful Green Lantern is the cause.

It is a little worrying how the heroes might end up as brooding as Batman and the villains as crazy fun as Joker. Batman and Joker are pretty much supposed to be the opposite of the norm - the hero wears black and is serious, while the villain is colorful and funny. Now we have trailers where Superman is scowling and Lex is goofing around. As well as the whole Suicide Squad you mentioned, who comes off as this colorful, fun group.

We'll have to see if they play Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash as tortured heroes defined by tragedy, never fitting in, brooding etc. The lure to simply turn every hero into Batman is difficult to resist. I won't say the franchise is doomed, but it looks like I will continue to have some problems with it. Maybe we'll have to wait until Shazam to break the Batman-mold. :oldyella:

I'm just waiting until we see a hero in a movie (not a trailer or promo) to judge. Most of the villains featured in SS are very charismatic, so it makes sense. Also, I think I've kind of self-justified a reason to why Supes is so angry and broody. He came down and saved the planet and was some big hero but then the government comes after him and some old hero with none of his powers comes out of hermitage being all brutal talking crap about Supes. And then freaking Mark Zuckerberg makes a monster out of the crazy guy from Superman's neighborhood that Superman killed.


Also, while I would rather have a Lex Luthor that was more faithful to the comics, the BvS makes more sense if the movie is set in 2015/2016. These days, rich company leaders are often young people. Eisenberg played another rich asshole billionaire in The Social Network, and if he does that role but has him intentionally be a mean person, he might nail it. The approach to the Joker is the same. His origin is that he was a gangster that got messed up in some acid. A popular type of gang currently is a cartel, and Jared Leto as Joker is basically a pale cartel leader with green hair. I think it might work. The thing with comic books is that they adapt throughout time. This is the stage we're currently at, and it could honestly be much worse.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby ShadowRaven » Jan 20th, 2016, 4:08 pm

I think part of the reason for the SS Trailer tone is so upbeat is because they're intentionally aiming at dark comedy.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby Red leader » Jan 20th, 2016, 6:59 pm

I think DatBat is right and this may just be the marketing selling a different film then we will get. I get why people are exited that Suicide Squad looks fun but that just makes me more depressed for BvS. The fun heroes look depressing and the book that tackles politics and even the morality of suicide at points get the quirky trailer. Even if the films are not like this its just a strange thing to see.

I hope wonder woman will do what captain america did and have the color pallet change depending on the mood. We only saw her in ww1 maybe when we see paradise island it will be bright and then when Diana comes to our world it becomes gloomy like how steve rodgers world gets darker when he actually sees the soldiers.

I think this tone can work for some characters but it really doesn't for others unless you do it just right. I dont want a super quirky film to offset this though, i would rather they focus on optimism which allows them to be dark at points but actually let you not hate yourself when you walk out of the theater like MOS made a lot of us feel.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby TFDutchman » Jan 20th, 2016, 10:17 pm

The colour palettes of the films nag at me the most. MOS definitely has a blue wash to it, BVS seems to alternate between blue for dark scenes and brown for others, and everything Wonder Woman has been dark blue. I can understand using a little colour correction to set a mood, but the colours used for the heroes are so dark and bleak.

With an actor like Jason Momoa I don't see Aquaman being much different in tone. Again we'll get another brooding underwater Batman, my first real hopes for something that isn't in the tone of Batman is Flash. Fingers crossed. I would also hope Shazam, Cyborg and Green Lantern also stray heavily from that tone. DC needs variety, they can't just Batman-tone all their characters and hope that it works for all of them.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby DatBat » Jan 20th, 2016, 10:37 pm

ShadowRaven wrote:I think part of the reason for the SS Trailer tone is so upbeat is because they're intentionally aiming at dark comedy.

Exactly. They're clearly making it a dark comedy and it works so well, at least judging by the trailer.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby Mani-Man » Jan 21st, 2016, 10:58 am

TFDutchman wrote:The colour palettes of the films nag at me the most. MOS definitely has a blue wash to it, BVS seems to alternate between blue for dark scenes and brown for others, and everything Wonder Woman has been dark blue. I can understand using a little colour correction to set a mood, but the colours used for the heroes are so dark and bleak.

With an actor like Jason Momoa I don't see Aquaman being much different in tone. Again we'll get another brooding underwater Batman, my first real hopes for something that isn't in the tone of Batman is Flash. Fingers crossed. I would also hope Shazam, Cyborg and Green Lantern also stray heavily from that tone. DC needs variety, they can't just Batman-tone all their characters and hope that it works for all of them.


The colour palette is really throwing me off in the DC movies.
You can have a mature and darker movie without such extreme filters.
Im still blown away how good Man of Steel works without the filter they throw onto it...like a completely different movie to me.

Now seeing that they seemingly use the same tone for Wonder Woman, really worries me.
Ever since the dark knight, i had this fear that Warner/DC tries to copy the success any way they can, instead of really wanting to capture the essence of those different heroes.
Gotham, Flash to some extend, Bat--i mean Arrow, Wonder Woman, BVS, Suicide Squad etc it has all more or less the same tone.

I also feel like this visual filters and dark colors are a cheap attempt to set a mood that they cant set via dialogue, camera, acting, storytelling etc.

I hope that my intial feelings are wrong and that the future DC movies surprise me, but the tone and colors will probably forever bother me.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby TheJester » Jan 21st, 2016, 2:40 pm

Mani-Man wrote:I also feel like this visual filters and dark colors are a cheap attempt to set a mood that they cant set via dialogue, camera, acting, storytelling etc.

This. The tone of the last BvS trailer was all over the place, so I feel like they're just slapping a filter over it in order to come off as more gritty. Comic book films can be dark without having to be literally dark.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby ShadowRaven » Jan 21st, 2016, 2:44 pm

TheJester wrote:
Mani-Man wrote:I also feel like this visual filters and dark colors are a cheap attempt to set a mood that they cant set via dialogue, camera, acting, storytelling etc.

This. The tone of the last BvS trailer was all over the place, so I feel like they're just slapping a filter over it in order to come off as more gritty. Comic book films can be dark without having to be literally dark.

Tell that to Daredevil. There are still a couple scenes in that show I can't quite make out. :oldyella:
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby arkhamcitydood » Jan 21st, 2016, 2:49 pm

I see it as DC trying to be original.

Instead of heroes being upbeat and funny while fighting crime, (ex: any marvel movie ever) they're dark, brooding, and got a lot of problems they've never gotten past.
On the other hand, DC is doing the complete opposite with their villains. The villains are the fun, enjoyable, and love what they do characters. I think it's an original way to tell a story and people haven't yet realized that, which is why man of steel is so mixed with fans: it paints superman as a bad guy, or whatever you want to call it.

10 years down the road if these movies are good, they'll become even more classic than any other DC film just because I think the directions DC are taking will work. Everything will pay off for them, I hope.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Issues With Tone - Has DC Got It Wrong?

Postby TFDutchman » Jan 22nd, 2016, 12:07 am

^ Yeah, but they don't need to excessively use heavy blue and brown filters on every scene. It's offputting.
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