The Guardian

From zero to hero: how the DC cinematic universe was saved

After a string of disappointments, the success of Aquaman and Shazam! have shown that Marvel’s messier competitor is now back in the game
Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! Photograph: Steve Wilkie/AP

With the one-two punch of Shazam! and Aquaman exceeding critical and box office expectations, and a slew of eagerly anticipated films due out over the next couple of years, Warner Bros is on a roll with their DC properties. Audiences have finally begun to invest in their Extended Universe – or DCEU and given that, less than a year ago, the studio had looked set to scrap their expensive world-building efforts and start over from scratch, it has proven quite the heroic rebound.

The question is, how exactly did they manage to turn things around so quickly?

By all rights, DC should have started out on equal footing with Marvel when it came to movies. The Big Two, as they’re known in the realm of comics publishing, have sustained an equal share of popularity and relevance for over half a century.

However, DC’s wider relevance waned after the eruption of the modern cinematic superhero boom in the early 2000s. By 2013, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU) had a robust five

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