Last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice got a hard time from critics. Between its cluttered story and overly dismal tone, the film simply failed to impress audiences in the way a big crossover event should. Dave Gibbons, who worked alongside Alan Moore on the classic graphic novel Watchmen, believes some of the blame lies with his seminal work.
In a recent interview with ComicBook.com, Gibbons was asked about the possibility of a Superman movie directed by Matthew Vaughn (with whom Gibbons has recently collaborated on the Kingsman films) and had this to say:
“I know no more than you about Matthew being involved with a Superman movie. To me, off the cuff, it sounds like a really good idea. And I do think it’s the way that these things are evolving. You know, there was a time when superheroes had to be really dark. And I think of the Dark Knight movies. And of course, I also feel a bit guilty, because Alan Moore and I very much kind of instituted the idea of dark superheroes. We never thought it would persist for 25 years, you know.”
Watchmen was certainly one of the first graphic novels to bring the ‘dark and gritty’ tone into the superhero world (though arguably Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, published a few months earlier, started the trend). Gibbons explained he thinks superhero films are taking a different route nowadays though:
“But I think that the sort of thing that’s popular nowadays is something that’s a bit lighter in tone, that’s a bit more adventurous and a bit more colorful. And I think of things for instance like, The Guardians of the Galaxy or the new Thor movie, or indeed, Kingsman. And, you know, I think that’s the kind of entertainment that Matthew very much understands. And I’d be really intrigued to see his take on Superman. I’m sure it would be really good for the character.”
Many fans seem to agree, at least to an extent, with Gibbons. Even DC themselves seem to have made the link between Watchmen and the increasingly dark tone of their comics, with their current Rebirth storyline literally putting the blame for the darkness in the DC Universe on the characters of Watchmen. Gibbons spoke a bit about the storyline:
“Well the way, I mean, the way I understand it is that somehow Watchmen are being blamed for the darkness of the DC Universe, and somehow this latest story thing that DC are doing is a way that the DC Universe breaks free of the lying influence of the Watchmen characters. It was the fact that American writers adopted a particular take, that Alan and I took on superheroes. It’s the blame there, and certainly, we were never saying that this is how superhero comics should be done. In fact, the next thing we would’ve done after Watchmen would’ve been something like Captain Marvel, you know, something really light and mythical.”
“I think, as I said earlier, the trend in entertainment now is to actually come up with something which is more entertaining, which is less dark, which is much more full of hope. And I think probably the failure of the Superman-Batman movie was that it was really too dark, and that Superman was made as dark as Batman. And to me, that really doesn’t work, I thought that’s the perfect opportunity to contrast the two characters.”
As Batman v Superman was helmed by Zack Snyder, director of the Watchmen movie, there may well be some validity to Gibbons’ thoughts. However, with Justice League seeming to take a slightly lighter tone, there may just be hope yet for a little light in the DCEU.
What do you think? Did Watchmen harm Batman V Superman? Has the ‘dark and gritty’ epidemic had its time? Let us know in the comments below.