Week in Review: ‘No Jokes’ in DC movies

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We can debate all day which comic book hero is cooler: DC or Marvel? Superman or Spiderman? Justice League or The Avengers? Batman or anyone who isn’t cool enough to be Batman? But it’s no question that Marvel has a serious leg-up on DC in the movie business.

Outside of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, DC has had a harder time making their characters stick and is even behind the ball in planning their lineup of films. Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was one of the highest grossing films of last year, but it was forgotten as a dour, colorless, over-important mess as soon as it arrived. And yet this model may be the template DC is pursuing with all their future projects.

Drew McWeeny at Hitfix wrote a column saying that he’s heard numerous rumblings from Warner Bros. insiders that the policy for all their superhero movies from here on out is quite simple: “No jokes.”

Clearly this is no laughing matter, as the studio does not want another box office dud like the comedy-heavy Green Lantern. Better to stick to the dark and gritty template that has defined 2000s drama even beyond Batman Begins.

McWeeny doesn’t have any direct sources from Warner Bros. willing to go on record about this, but after releasing the infamous Sad Batman and Sad Superman images, they may just be all about gray, dourness and super-seriousness. If they really had their ear to the ground, they’d know that these images have since become memes and that any attempt to make Batman too serious might just come across as laughable. And it’s not as though The Dark Knight didn’t have its fair share of dark humor in the form of Heath Ledger’s Joker or Bruce Wayne’s wry rich-guy one-liners.

Could this really be something that would extend beyond Batman v. Superman into the Wonder Woman, Flash and Justice League movies? What is Aquaman if not a complete joke to begin with?

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Variety reported Thursday that the summer box office returns for 2014 were at their lowest since 2006, dropping 15 percent from 2013’s record breaking year. For the first time in 13 years, no movie broke the $300 million domestic barrier, even though some movies like Transformers: Age of Extinction managed to break the $1 billion barrier worldwide. Although Guardians of the Galaxy is set to top it in a matter of days, the April release Captain America: The Winter Soldier remains the highest grossing movie of the year so far. Executives still remain optimistic that movies like the next Avengers and Star Wars will shatter the mold all over again, but I don’t have to be an economist to know that that line is a steep drop.

The Gurus O’ Gold, Movie City News’ poll of Oscar pundits from around the web, released its first chart of early Best Picture predictions prior to any of the major festivals. MCN polls 14 pundits, each of whom give their picks (this time unranked) as to which movies based on pedigree or on appearance will receive a Best Picture nomination. The article says that for the last four years, the movie that has gone on to win Best Picture was first picked by all or all but one of the pundits this early in the game. This year, four films were picked universally as contenders, those being Gone Girl, Birdman, Boyhood, and Unbroken. Be sure to take a look at the full list of contenders.

Deadline reports that Fox has picked up a pilot for a comedy based on the life of Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo. The show is called DeTour and is a college comedy based on Cuomo’s life at Harvard while on hiatus from Weezer. The pilot for DeTour will be a single-camera comedy directed and produced by Psych creator Steve Franks. While the show doesn’t have a series order just yet, this comes after news last week that Fox passed on Tina Fey’s college comedy Cabot College.

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