Laurence Fishburne has been featured as Daily Planet Editor-in-Chief Perry White in the last couple DC films, including Man of Steel and last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He doesn’t exactly have the most substantial role in the franchise, but Fishburne himself is an industry legend with some pretty iconic characters to his name, including Morpheus from The Matrix movies and, more recently, as Pops on ABC’s Black-ish. In a recent LA Times interview in which the actor was promoting his newest film, John Wick: Chapter 2 –in which the actor reteams with his Matrix co-star Keanu Reeves – Fishburne had some words about the DCEU and why he won’t be featured in Snyder’s upcoming Justice League film.
On not appearing in the new DC film, Fishburne has said:
They asked me to come for a day, but I couldn’t work it out, schedule-wise. And really, what do you need the newspaperman in Justice League for? You want to see the Flash. You want to see Aquaman. You want to see Wonder Woman. You want to see the Lantern.
This is an altogether uncontroversial statement, albeit one that not everyone would agree with. For some people, the best part of the DC films are definitely their casts, and Fishburne has always been able to make an impression, even in smaller roles. Regardless, that’s not where the controversy came from. It was directed, instead, at the rest of his statement, which reads:
We’ve been waiting 35 years for these [characters] to show up on the screen. What were they doing over there? Marvel has been kicking their ass. This is the comic-book geek in me, who has a collection of comic books. I’ve been waiting to see these people on-screen forever.
Look, I love what Zack Snyder does. Jesse Eisenberg, this little nebbishy guy, as Lex Luthor? For me, that’s a genius move. And the whole thing with Martha Kent and Martha Wayne? I don’t know, man, I must be sentimental but that’s some heartwarming [stuff] to me. So I don’t get it.
The thing is, a lot of people would probably be inclined to agree with him. No matter how you slice it, Marvel Studios has been kicking DC’s ass, both in comparative box office numbers and critical reactions. Fishburne’s statement has nothing to do with which movies are “better” – although some of us have been fighting for BvS since it was released last March – but more so with the overall disorganization of one studio over another. And it’s true! DC is not ready to tackle a cinematic universe the way Feige’s Marvel was. Now, the rumor that Ben Affleck might leave the DCEU means there’s another seemingly insurmountable obstacle to overcome, and that’s before any of the DC films have even been considered passable by the general public.
Like the films themselves, it seems like the people in charge of making them are biting off more than they can chew. The DCEU is still finding an identity, which can’t happen if studio heads keep meddling with the movies they’re producing. If you think about how much better Suicide Squad could have been, or if they would have just let Snyder release his R-rated cut of BvS, where would the DCEU be? Would the Flash movie still be in limbo? Would The Batman have gone from being a sure thing to entering the deepest layer of development Hell? There’s no clear answer, but it seems like the multiple bombs – whether financially or critically – that have been released recently have had something to do with that.
At this point, the pressure is on Justice League and Wonder Woman to perform beyond any expectations. Gal Gadot is a bona fide movie star, and her small role in BvS was a scene stealer for sure. And James Wan’s Aquaman will hopefully bring us that auteurist spirit that this franchise desperately needs to perfect. The final step would be to confirm Mel Gibson as the director of Suicide Squad 2 and to let him do his damn job! There’s still hope for the DCEU, but with all these other great comic book movies coming out, time is running out.
Images: Warner Bros.