After much anticipation, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Pictures foray into the shared-universe movie scheme premiered to a super-powered beat down from critics and fans alike. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was technically director Zack Snyder’s sequel to his 2013’s Man of Steel, a reboot of the Superman franchise, but it introduced the not-yet-formed Justice League roster of Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg. Not to mention Lex Luthor and a nest of easter eggs I’ll try not to spoil.
Here are some teachable moments from DC and Warner Bros.’ experience that can help business owners retain happy customers:
- Respect your Target Audience
The content you create should be in line with your mission statement, and speak to your key audience. I loved Snyder’s beautiful film work, and picked up on all of the references sprinkled throughout the movie, but I’m nerdy like that. Snyder’s movie was made assuming the general movie-going public would come in with knowledge of all mythology, backstories and references, including a fresh recollection of Man of Steel’s ending. I had to explain the movie to people who didn’t get it and were soured by their confusion.
If the initial #user experience is bad, that’s it. And they’ll probably share on social media.
- Keep It Simple, Superman
We see what you did there, Snyder. Playing catch-up and trying to get a universe started, combining aspects of The Dark Knight Returns, Injustice: Gods Among Us (and a comic book story-line that would be a spoiler if I mentioned it here). It’s a lot. The movie is rife with plot points and relies on the viewer to make the connections. Other scenes were left vague intentionally to be explained in other movies(!) assuming there will be investment in current and future offerings.
Keep your options simple, and build on the brand you have established.
- Be unique, but know the market
Snyder’s DC’s Extended Universe is one possible take on the characters, based on DC’s Multiverse. I’ve seen complaints that (spoilers-not-spoilers) Superman doesn’t kill! Batman doesn’t use guns! The buzz was that people wanted their original flavor of heroes.
The movie’s tone is different from Marvel’s and that’s fine, but dude, no post-credit sequence? You should have put the Communion deleted scene at the end, at the very least. It’s the new rule — comic book movies must have a post-credits scene.
Know what your customers want, and give it to them.
Will Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice be appreciated years from now for its ambitious goals, or seen as creating the “McDowell’s” playbook of shared-universe comic book movies when compared to Marvel? Time will tell.
Here’s an overview of DC’s complicated “Multiverse”: