Why So Serious: Warner Bros. Reportedly Orders ‘No Jokes’ In New DC Comics Movies
Comics fans have become well acquainted with the notion that sometimes, creative people learn the wrong things from successes. It's why certain comics have been dominated for going on 30 years by a "dark" and "mature" sensibility that often comes off as grim, self-serious and overcooked.
Well, get ready for that way of thinking to make its way to movie theaters very soon. According to a report at Hitfix, Warner Bros. has a strict rule for its upcoming DC Comics movies: "No jokes."
What's particularly surprising is that the rule -- which itself is kind of a joke, when you think about it -- is that it stems from a failure more than it does a success, at least, according to Hitfix writer Drew McWeeny's thinking.
See, Green Lantern was a bomb. A massive one. It remains the butt of many -- brace yourself -- jokes about superhero movies that just didn't have what it took to connect with audiences. It was loaded with comedy. The trailers included lots of smarmy "charm" from lead actor Ryan Reynolds. And it didn't work.
But was the humor the reason it didn't work? It would seem that there are any number of counterpoints to the argument that it was -- Guardians of the Galaxy most prominent among them, but almost any other Marvel movie would serve as an example that humor in superhero movies isn't something audiences flee from.
Perhaps the whole idea is for Warners/DC to distinguish itself completely from its competition at Disney/Marvel, but this really, really doesn't seem like the way to do it.
Arguably the most successful Warners/DC movie, The Dark Knight, is teeming with humor. Sure, it's a dark humor, but the Joker has some laugh-out-loud lines. (The best one is a simple, "Yeah.") Bruce Wayne and Alfred have warm, funny moments. Batman tells those faker guys he isn't wearing hockey pads!
The other Nolan Batman movies have comic relief moments, too. The Richard Donner/Richard Lester Superman movies have plenty of comic relief (it was kind of Ned Beatty's whole role). Even Tim Burton's Batman had Robert Wuhl.
Honestly, this is such a wrongheaded rule to impose that it has even the writer who originally reported it -- citing five different sources - -doubted it so strongly that he openly asked Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David Goyer to deny it.
On the one hand, banishing humor from your make-believe world full of people in spandex costumes who punch each other while buildings fall down around them seems like instant death. Aren't we supposed to like these characters? On the other hand, after Man of Steel, it's kind of believable, isn't it?
It almost sounds like a test a student in a screenwriting class would get assigned: "Write a good script with no humor in it at all." If this is all true, someone will have to do that a dozen times or so in the next few years.
That's a hell of a test.