"There was a time above. A time before. There were perfect things. Diamond absolutes. How things fall. Things on Earth. And what falls......is fallen."
I feel like Bruce Wayne's first words in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice perfectly describe the state of the DC Extended Universe fanbase right now, almost 21 months since that movie was released in theaters. There really WAS a time above and a time before, when the fan base was largely united in their pursuit of being able to enjoy our favorite franchise without seemingly the rest of the world telling us we were wrong or delusional for doing so, united against the idea that critics should tell us what movies we are supposed to enjoy or not, and united against those from the "other fanbase" that still to this day tell us how much better their fictional characters are on the big screen than ours are.
When I searched the Internet for others that loved MoS and BvS as much as I did, it WAS a perfect thing when I found them. It WAS a diamond absolute that gave me hope and reminded me that I wasn't alone in how much I loved the DCEU and everything it was doing thematically, cinematically and in how it brought my favorite heroes and villains to live on the big screen.
That all started to change last summer and reached a zenith on November 17, 2017. That was the day that everything about the DCEU fanbase as I knew it changed forever.
How things fall. Things on Earth.
People that I stood with on social media in defense of this franchise were now adding me to their blocked lists and I was returning the favor. After spending a year weeding out trolls and negative voices that weren't part of the fanbase but would always show up on my timeline, I was now having to do it all over again as so many of the voices that were once positive about the DCEU turned sour, bitter and in some cases outright hateful. They felt betrayed by Justice League and they wanted everyone else to know it.
And what falls......is fallen.
So now we sit in a holding pattern of sorts, still only two months removed from Justice League's theatrical release, nearly a full year away from the release of the next DCEU movie Aquaman, and we are as divided as we have ever been as a fanbase. Whereas news of Justice League's digital and Blu-ray release should have been a cause for celebration, it was largely anything but that with many fans still angry and bitter about the "treachery" they feel WB committed against them and against all of us for what happened with that movie and for what has happened to the franchise itself.
I've made it clear that I'm one of the fans that likes Justice League. Enough that I saw it three times in theaters and plan to get the steelbook Blu-ray when it comes out in March. I don't consider it a perfect movie and I do have issues with it here and there, but overall I consider it a more than solid movie and undeserving of most of the hatred it gets from critics, bloggers and DC fans as well.
If you're a DC fan you don't have to like Justice League, you don't have to support WB and you don't have to support the DCEU anymore either. You can absolutely make the choice to jump ship from the fanbase and the franchise and declare your appreciation for it dead after seeing how much Justice League was changed from what was believed to be its original vision. If they burned you then they burned you and you have every right to feel that way and incinerate whatever belief you have in the future of the franchise as a whole. No one should be telling you that you can't or that you shouldn't. It's your decision and you make it for yourself and no one else, as with anything.
Let me tell you why I'm not giving up on the DCEU, though.
I am a fan of Zack Snyder and I have thoroughly enjoyed his presence in the DCEU and his work on all of the movies he has been a part of. That includes Justice League, despite all of the turmoil that the film went through during production and post-production. That being said, I realize that a franchise is far bigger than just one director and at the end of the day, the characters and stories are owned and controlled by WB. It is their property and they will do with it as they wish. It is our choice individually to decide whether or not we are going to support that.
The reason I am still going to is because I am willing to give WB the benefit of the doubt for what happened during the first "phase" of the DCEU. I don't agree with everything they did on those first five movies. I think they should have been more on the same page with regard to the theatrical cut for BvS and how it was edited. I think that Suicide Squad should never have been changed based on critical reaction to BvS and I think that Justice League should never have had a runtime edict. These are all things I lay at the feet of WB as decisions they made that I don't like.
At the same time, the DCEU franchise is still a baby at only five movies released in the span of four years. It feels longer because of the three-year gap between MoS and BvS release dates, but there have been four DCEU movies released between March 25, 2016 and November 17, 2017, which is just under 20 months of time. When comparing it to the "other shared universe franchise" that has existed much longer than that, it's really not a fair comparison. The DCEU has never been truly given a chance to actually figure out what it wants to do by seeing what it is that the audience responds to and that's a huge part of the success or failure of these long term franchises. I don't think anyone can deny that there has been a great deal of trial and error in the first five years of the DCEU's existence and while it is very easy for those of us who enjoyed most of it to say that they should have kept doing what we wanted them to, we are not the only audience that exists to watch these movies and with big budget blockbusters, it's about acquiring as big of an audience as you can get.
So while I don't agree with everything that WB has done with the DCEU to this point, I at least understand and accept it for what it is. I don't feel betrayed or tricked by them in the slightest. They made decisions based on what was happening with their movies and the production process and the audience and critical reaction and they didn't work as well as they ever wanted them to. Whether they had over-inflated expectations or not, the point is that they have been trying and the recent moves they have made such as naming Walter Hamada the head of the franchise and pressing forward with their other movies indicates that they are attempting to refine their process and hopefully learn from what they did in the past. That's not going to make everyone happy and I understand that, but for those of us that are content with what they are doing to this point and excited for the future, we should be allowed to be without having to defend ourselves against our own fanbase. We get enough of that from dealing with everyone else.
Obviously not everyone that didn't like Justice League is being difficult with those who did, but there's enough that it cluttered my timeline with fellow fans that didn't appreciate the noise they were getting about being happy for the Blu-ray. Just as we all didn't like people telling us that BvS was a train wreck, some of us don't like being told that the Justice League Blu-ray is a "consolation prize" that we shouldn't buy, lest we let WB off the hook for how they "disrespected" us and Zack Snyder. That's an attitude of entitlement that I'm not going to entertain and it doesn't do anyone any good to fight over it.
I'm not fighting over it. Not one bit. It hasn't been the easiest five movies of a franchise to be a fan of, mostly because of the incessant extra noise surrounding it from seemingly every direction, but I'm still a fan because I see a bright future for the DCEU. I can still love MoS, BvS, Wonder Woman, Justice League and Suicide Squad and still be excited for Aquaman, Shazam, the Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad sequels and any other movies attached to the DCEU that arise. I'm no traitor and I'm not letting WB off of any hook. I just have a wide strike zone when it comes to these movies and I'm willing to let WB figure out what it wants to do with the DCEU as a franchise, which is clearly what they are doing now in this "holding pattern" we have until December of this year when Aquaman releases.
If you're not as optimistic as I am about it, that is fine. If you're downright pessimistic about it, that is your business too. Just don't be like the trolls and the snarky critics and the fanboys that we have all been dealing with for far too long when it comes to defending this franchise. Don't make things more difficult for DCEU fans that still remain hopeful for the future just because your hope is gone. It sucks that it is, it really does but we are all in different places with this and we just need to respect each other's viewpoint on that. Liking Justice League doesn't make you any less of a DCEU fan and it's not something to scold people about.
There are times when I see the landscape of comic book movies and fandoms in general and I do think about walking away from it all, to escape some of the horrors that I see in terms of how we treat one another on social media for our opinions and our feelings. I wonder if the nature of the film business and how these movies are made, presented and critiqued has made a world where standing together as fans isn't possible.
But I still believe in the DCEU and I still believe in the power of its fanbase.
Fans are still good.
We kill (figuratively).
We betray one another......but we can rebuild.
We can do better.
We have to.