Last week's news that Warner Bros. have been a shifting a few of their #DC movies around, pushing Aquaman back from its July 2018 release date, might seem at first like more evidence that the DCEU is in a state of flux, to put it kindly. Or, to put it less kindly, just a straight-up mess.
Look a little more closely, though, and I'd argue that this new-found flexibility is evidence that the omens are now much better for a #DCEU which can please fans, make money and avoid the dreaded "Extended Cut" with every blu-ray release, whose only function is to try and fix the mistakes of whatever chopped-up mess hit theaters a few months earlier.
Essentially, Aquaman has taken the slot most people had assumed was reserved for #TheBatman — October 5, 2018. The Batman (which is not its confirmed title, but we'll call it that because it sounds kinda badass) didn't previously have a release date but now occupies Aquaman's old slot of July 27, 2018.
According to an expose on what went wrong with Suicide Squad published by The Hollywood Reporter in August, director David Ayer had only six weeks to work on a draft of the script. The movie was announced in October 2014 and already had a release date of August this year, meaning Warner Bros. didn't get any of the creative team time to ensure that the script was perfect — they basically just had to start shooting regardless. As if it needed to be said, six weeks is nothing in terms of writing a movie. Suicide Squad (which for my money is a significantly worse piece of cinema than Batman v Superman) was doomed from the beginning.
Geoff Johns took over as the DCEU's creative brain after the violently negative reaction to Batman v Superman, and it seems he instantly recognized the need to alter DC's approach. We've known for a while that Ben Affleck was working on a script for his solo Batventure, but the director and star has repeatedly refused to name a date, and until Joe Manganiello confirmed he'd start shooting as Deathstroke in Spring 2017, it seemed the movie wasn't coming any time soon.
What this means, essentially, is that the DCEU's new approach is less motivated by fixed release dates, more fluid, and better positioned to make sure every movie has had all the time it needs in development to actually elevate the universe into something that can genuinely go toe-to-toe with Marvel. As a Best Picture winner for the stunning hostage thriller Argo, Affleck appears to have a massive amount of creative control within this universe, not to mention the complete trust of the studio — rumor is that he only signed on to play Batman on the promise that he could direct his passion project Live By Night, which finally hits theaters this Christmas.
So, while we know almost nothing about The Batman beyond its villain and a few supporting faces, the fact that it's treading a more organic path to the big screen feels like a good omen. Maybe DC needed a couple of failed experiments to reach this point. Maybe we're about to get the Batman movie we deserve. Maybe.
Will DC finally perfect their dark formula with The Batman?