October 19 update: Ben Affleck's solo Batman movie 'The Batman' now has a semi-confirmed release date (clue: it's less than two years from now!).
Say what you will about the DC Extended Universe (and every man and his dog has expressed a strong opinion on it in the months since Suicide Squad hit), but Warner Bros. are pressing ahead at full speed with their plans for a cinematic universe to ultimately dethrone Marvel.
It's a tough fight, and DC are the underdogs — but looking at the movies they have coming up in the next 4 years, you have to wonder if we might see the tables turn. Anyway, DC is bound to get itself a critical hit sooner or later... right?
Enough talk. Let's take a look at every movie coming up in the DCEU before 2020, what we know about the cast, story and finer details of each one — and whether they'll finally fulfil the promise of this bold, interesting, and thus-far flawed cinematic universe.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Director Patty Jenkins has kept a low profile in Hollywood since her Oscar-winning movie Monster (2003), but she's back behind the camera with a vengeance in Wonder Woman. Although arguably not as important to the DCEU as Justice League (being an origin story set during World War I, it's likely to have far fewer implications for the wider universe), it is essential that DC begins winning over critics, and this seems like the perfect vehicle for that mission.
Forget about those rumors that the production of this movie was troubled — in the current haze of DC controversy, the words of anonymous "insiders" aren't gospel. Gal Gadot surpassed all expectations in Batman v Superman, and crucially the DCEU will beat Marvel out of the gate with a solo female superhero flick. Guys and girls will flock to theaters for that. The takeaway? This could, and should, be an audience pleaser, which is exactly what the studio needs right now.
A new full-length trailer should arrive sometime before Christmas (the Comic-Con footage is more of an epic sizzle reel). Wonder Woman hits theaters June 2, 2017.
Justice League (2017)
More than Dawn of Justice or Suicide Squad, this is the one. Everything hinges on Justice League being the Avengers-conquering, billion dollar beast that Warner Bros. so desperately needs it to be. So far, much has been said about the noticeably lighter tone of the Comic-Con teaser trailer in contrast with the overly-serious nature of BvS. Ben Affleck appears to be in his element with the dry humor of those scenes spent recruiting The Flash and Aquaman to the team. Check out the trailer below.
There's still a big question mark over whether Zack Snyder, a man with an unparalleled eye for visuals, can deliver on the story front. With Henry Cavill having teased a dark suit for Superman in this movie, it seems the Man of Steel's reawakening will drive the narrative while borrowing significantly from the iconic '90s Return of Superman comic book arc. We've also been given hints that Steppenwolf will be the big bad, as opposed to his commander, Darkseid.
For now, it's a waiting game — but I have faith in Snyder to deliver something special here. Starring alongside the main cast of Affleck, Cavill, Gadot, Miller, Momoa and Fisher are Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe and Amber Heard. Now that's what I call a killer list of names. Justice League is released November 17, 2017.
The Flash (2018)
Ah, more controversy. DC fans seem to fall into two camps: those who wanted Grant Gustin reprising his role from The CW's hit TV show, and have already decided that this movie is a write-off, and those who think Ezra Miller is the right guy to embody the Scarlet Speedster. Personally, I’m Team Ezra, although let’s be real — there’s plenty of room for both. Play nicely, children!
Directing The Flash is Rick Famuyiwa, the USC grad who helmed last year's critically acclaimed coming-of-age comedy Dope — and it's no coincidence that one of the stars of that movie, Kiersey Clemons, is playing Barry's on-off journalist girlfriend Iris West. Will the villain of this movie be another speedster? That's something the TV series has done to death already, so perhaps Famuyiwa has a fresher antagonist in mind. Ray Fisher will reprise his role from Justice League as Cyborg, Barry's bestie.
The Flash hits theaters March 16, 2018.
One of the defining attributes of the DCEU is a willingness to hire directors who have higher ambitions than making movies to a house style. It didn't exactly work out with Suicide Squad, but James Wan, one of modern-day maestros of horror, feels like a bold and potentially brilliant choice to helm Aquaman. Sure, Arthur Curry isn't the first person you'd think of when choosing which DC hero should get a solo movie, but there's a serious chance the combination of Wan and star Jason Momoa could transform Aquaman into a Wolverine-esque fearsome warrior.
The prospect of going underwater and establishing Atlantis, a city nothing like the dark urban landscapes of Gotham or Metropolis, is also seriously exciting. Amber Heard is on board to play Mera, but the cast is otherwise a blank slate at this point. Will Beall will write the script while Zack and Deborah Snyder have producer credits in order to keep the DCEU tonally smooth. We'll see how that works out.
Aquaman comes up for air on July 27, 2018.
The Batman (2018)
Of all the movies in the DCEU, even including Justice League, The Batman is surely the one with the biggest potential to break the billion dollar mark. Ben Affleck will direct and read from a script written by himself and Geoff Johns, so you know damn well this is going to be good. Joe Manganiello, who plays Deathstroke (presumed to be the movie's primary villain), just confirmed shooting begins in Spring 2017. That essentially confirms The Batman will take DC's free October release date.
J.K. Simmons and Jeremy Irons return as Jim Gordon and Alfred respectively, and you can bet on at least one cameo either from a Justice Leaguer or another member of Batman's vast gallery of rogues. Expect more casting news in the next three months or so.
The Batman swoops into town on October 5, 2018.
Shazam is scheduled for April 5, 2019, and The Rock is attached to star as Black Adam, but otherwise details have been seriously thin on the ground. Shazam doesn't even have a director attached yet, and the character has no links with the Justice League, so it feels like there's a good chance the slot saved for this movie could be given to another — quite possibly Man of Steel 2. That's not to say Shazam is off the cards for good, but I'd be surprised if it came in less than 3 years' time.
Untitled Justice League Sequel (2019)
This movie was previously titled Justice League Part Two, but the first movie is no longer titled Part One, so this one will probably have a more plot-specific subtitle to be revealed at a later date. It's safe to assume that the entire team will return, including a fully-recharged Superman — and considering a Green Lantern Corps movie is due in 2020, one of the Lanterns could feasibly be recruited into the League in this movie.
If the main villain of Justice League is either Steppenwolf or some kind of dark version of Superman, it's probably fair to imagine that Darkseid, one of the DC Universe's ultimate threats, will step out of the shadows in this sequel. Zack Snyder is directing, naturally.
The Untitled Justice League Sequel is currently scheduled for June 24, 2019.
Right now we know so little about Cyborg, played by Ray Fisher, or the arc of his movie that it’s hard to get excited about this solo adventure. Is there really likely to be any demand for a Cyborg movie? I guess we’ll know for sure after The Flash. Don’t take it for granted that Cyborg will even make it to screen — compared to, say, Dark Universe, a Victor Stone solo outing feels like a major gamble, and at present no director is signed up.
Right now, Cyborg is down for an April 3, 2020 release.
Green Lantern Corps (2020)
This is a weird one. Green Lantern really should have a role to play in the Justice League, and there's every chance we'll see either John Stewart or Hal Jordan in part two of that movie — so why is it taking DC so long to get the Corps on screen? Maybe it's a good thing they're taking their time. Multiple Lanterns is a big concept, and it deserves to be done justice. No director is attached, and however much Tyrese Gibson may be clamoring to play John Stewart, nobody has yet been cast.
Green Lantern Corps is set for July 24, 2020.
For more DCEU goodness:
- Who's In The Team? Everything You Should Know About Justice League Dark
- How Will 'Dark Universe' Tie Into The Wider DCEU?
- What Does Cyborg's Role In 'The Flash' Mean For The DCEU?
Dark Universe (Date TBA, Expected 2019)
A Justice League Dark movie has been rumored for a while now, but it kind of felt like something that was never really gonna happen — so when I woke up to the news that Doug Liman had signed on to direct Dark Universe, I pretty much cried with joy. The name change is a good thing, and the Edge of Tomorrow director should bring bags of science-fiction-tinged energy to the more mystical side of the DCEU.
The breakout star is almost guaranteed to be Constantine, the cynical, snarky, trench coat-wearing, chain smoking Londoner whose relationship with magic makes him pretty unique within the DCEU. Think the skillset of Doctor Strange and the personality of Deadpool, and you're halfway there. Casting will be key with this one, and if DC were ever going to make an R-rated movie, it should surely be Dark Universe. Expect Constantine to be joined by Swamp Thing, Zatanna and the gang.
No date announced, but it's most likely to take DC's free November 2019 slot.
In Development: Harley Quinn, Man of Steel 2
Finally, there are two further DC movies in the early stages of development. A Man of Steel sequel is no surprise, but Zack Snyder probably isn't the guy who should be at the reins of this one. His tendency to go dark doesn't really work with Supes as a character. Personally I wouldn't be at all shocked if the man from Krypton flew down from the sky and stole Shazam's April 2019 release date.
Margot Robbie is also developing a Harley Quinn story with Geoff Johns and the DC creative team. No word on exactly what the movie will look like — a solo adventure, a team-up with the Joker, perhaps even Birds of Prey — but you can guarantee Warner Bros. will want that out there as soon as possible. There's a free slot in November 2020, but I'd be surprised if we had to wait another four years. Again, perhaps Shazam or Cyborg will be pushed back to accommodate Harley and her hotpants.
The Final Word
The DCEU is a strange beast — a financially successful franchise which constantly fields accusations of being a failure. It's definitely endured a rocky start, but almost every one of these movies has a strong shot at being something special, perhaps except for Cyborg and Shazam. With at least ten movies coming our way in the next four years, there's no reason to think hugely talented directors like Ben Affleck, James Wan and Doug Liman can't transform this playing field into something far wilder and more exciting than the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Justice League, Dark Universe, The Batman or something else — which upcoming DC movie has you most stoked?