As someone who has always loved a good action movie, particularly those that involve superheroes, the current state of the DC Extended Universe, or DCEU, is disappointing.
While I can admit that I am not nearly as much of a DCEU fan as I am a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, I still pay enough attention to know that the franchise has run into some complications.
“Man of Steel” (2013) marked the beginning of the DCEU film franchise, receiving a Rotten Tomatoes score of 56%. It wasn’t until the release of “Wonder Woman” in 2017 that a DCEU film received a Rotten Tomatoes score above that with a whopping 93%. Momentum remained fairly high as “Aquaman” received a score of 65% on Rotten Tomatoes, followed by “Shazam!” receiving a 90%. Unfortunately for many fans, any legacies the latter two films could have had are now damaged.
For anyone who has been living under a rock, Amber Heard, who portrayed Mera alongside Jason Momoa’s titular “Aquaman,” was married to actor Johnny Depp from 2015 until their divorce was finalized in 2017. At the time of the divorce, Heard filed for a restraining order against Depp, alleging that he was abusive to her, which he denies. In 2018, Heard wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in which she alleged she was a victim of domestic abuse, but did not name Depp explicitly. Depp sued Heard in 2019 for defamation after losing a number of film roles due to Heard’s allegations.
On April 11, 2022, Depp v. Heard commenced in Fairfax, Virginia. As the case unfolded, a multitude of allegations were made, including both Depp and Heard accusing the other of abuse. The jury ruled in favor of Depp on June 1, 2022 and awarded him $10 million in compensatory damages as well as $5 million in punitive damages. Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages. Depp’s testimony has extremely damaged, if not entirely destroyed, Heard’s reputation and has marked her as a problematic figure in Hollywood.
Circling back to the topic of “Shazam!,” fans of the film have been looking forward to its sequel “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” which is set to release in March of this year. However, Shazam himself, Zachary Levi, may have dramatically decreased the chances the film will do well. On Jan. 29, he posted that he believes Pfizer “is a real danger to the world” on Twitter.
At this point in the pandemic, there is absolutely no need to continue pushing anti-vaccine rhetoric. There is plenty of evidence proving that COVID-19 vaccines are effective, and it does more harm than good to claim the opposite. The beloved voice of Flynn Rider in “Tangled” (2010) just landed himself in hot water and he’s going to wish he had his character’s super powers to get out of it.
Ezra Miller is another DCEU actor who has become increasingly problematic since April 2020. A video of Miller in Iceland seems to show them choking a woman in a bar. The woman later said it was all a part of a joking banter with Miller. In March 2022, Miller was charged with disorderly conduct and harassment over two alleged incidents at a bar in Hawaii. Miller pleaded no contest in April 2022 and was sentenced with a $500 fine.
Also in March 2022, Miller had two restraining orders filed against them, the people who filed them citing alleged harassment, threats and theft. In April 2022, Miller was charged with second-degree assault after allegedly hitting someone with a chair. Miller was later accused of grooming a child they met in 2016 who was 12-years-old at the time. They were accused of grooming by another parent later that month. Miller was also accused of burglary in August 2022.
James Gunn, who is known for directing “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” made his way over to the DCEU after being removed from future Guardians of the Galaxy projects in 2018. After controversial “jokes” he tweeted that included subjects of pedophilia, rape, 9/11, AIDS and the Holocaust, fans were very disturbed and unhappy. Marvel and Disney quickly ended their business relationship with the director. DC Studios announced on Jan. 31 that Gunn and producer Peter Safran will be spearheading future DCEU projects, warranting Gunn more controversy as he has backed both Ezra Miller and Zachary Levi.
Is the DCEU doomed? No, probably not. People love superheroes and the prospect of new film adaptations of fan favorite characters will always stir up excitement. Marvel is not without controversy – looking at you, Chris Pratt – but DC’s seems to be a lot more frequent with a lot more severity. Continuing to keep problematic figures like Heard, Levi, Miller and Gunn in your films with little to no response to their actions is troublesome to a lot of fans and keeps potential new fans away.
Tate Raub is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Tate know by tweeting her @tatertot1310.