Following the release of Man of Steel in 2013, in October of 2014, Warner Bros. announced its full slate of DC movies up to the year 2020. The thing is, a lot can happen in two years when it comes to studio plans, and almost no studio's plans have changed more than Warner Bros. in that amount of time. But just how much has the #DCEU slate changed?
Let's take a look:
The Original Plan
During a conference call in 2014, Warner Bros. officially announced its ambitious new slate of superhero films, consisting of 10 movies, spanning six years and starring characters like Cyborg, the Suicide Squad, Green Lantern and Shazam. Here's what the original slate looked like:
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25, 2016)
- Suicide Squad (August 5, 2016)
- Wonder Woman (June 23, 2017)
- Justice League: Part One (November 17, 2017)
- The Flash (March 23, 2018)
- Aquaman (July 27, 2018)
- Shazam! (April 5, 2019)
- Justice League: Part Two (July 14, 2019)
- Cyborg (April 3, 2020)
- Green Lantern Corps (June 19, 2020)
Despite how solid the plan looked, Warner Bros. and #DC had several ups and downs with their released films. That in turn has compromised the integrity of their original slate and slowly caused it to morph into a very different scenario. But just how much is different? Let's take a look.
'Man Of Steel 2' Is Officially Announced
Henry Cavill's version of #Superman has never had a break with fans, constantly receiving criticisms about his stoic and over-brooding personality (and penchant for killing). After two movies with the same bad rep, a sequel for our new Big Blue Boy Scout seemed unlikely. During an interview with Canoe, Zack Snyder stated in September of 2015 that Batman v Superman was our Man of Steel 2:
“I think in a way 'Batman v Superman' is 'Man of Steel 2' [...] It’d be interesting to think about what a standalone Superman movie might be.”
The uncertainty ended in August of 2016 though, when TheWrap reported that Warner Bros. had put Man of Steel 2 in active development. According to their sources, the sequel is a top priority for the studio and the faithful characterization of the character is of the utmost importance. Furthermore, during an interview for Newsweek, #HenryCavill's new manager, Dani Garcia, revealed that Cavill was working on a Superman sequel by stating:
“Henry has a big appetite. We’ve been in a five-month period of time where he’s re-strategizing [...] he’s filming [Justice League] now, he’s in development for the Superman standalone… he’s beginning to expand that world."
So it definitely looks like it's happening, but Warner Bros. may be taking its time to see how the DCEU goes forward and how Superman is received before putting the Man of Steel back in the game.
'Lobo' Movie In The Works
In April of 2012, Brad Peyton (San Andreas) was tapped to write and direct a solo #Lobo movie for Warner Bros. starring none other than Dwayne Johnson himself. Unfortunately, it all went quiet for a few years and in 2014, during an interview with MTV, Johnson confirmed the project was dead:
“It was [there] for a minute, but then it kind of just went away. As things happen in Hollywood sometime. For a minute I was interested in it (Lobo), then it went away.”
That was until March 2016, when, after years of rumors and speculation about the film (and after Deadpool's R-rated success), TheWrap revealed that the hyper-violent and extremely rude anti-hero had found a writer for a new shot at a movie set in the DCEU.
According to the report, the Main Man's script is being written by Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman). In June of 2016, Fuchs shared this image this image on Instagram, teasing the development of the screenplay:
Other than that, the project has been relatively quiet.
Given the nature of the character and the timing of the announcement, it's clear DC wants its own Deadpool. Yes, it's trying to retread on what's already been done, but if handled correctly, Lobo could become a hit and a franchise on its own without the DCEU's help.
'Wonder Woman' Is Moved Up
#WonderWoman has been the film's that's experienced the least amount of change, comparatively, and even Diana's solo film got a release date change. Originally scheduled for June 23, 2017, the movie was moved up a few weeks to June 2, 2017.
Turmoils In The Speed Force
#TheFlash has appeared in two out of the three DCEU movies and he will be one of the main players in Justice League. Despite that, his movie just can't seem to get off the ground.
When development began, the duo who wrote the script, Chris Lord and Phil Miller (The Lego Movie), were being eyed as directors, but those rumors eventually went away.
In October of 2015, Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) was hired as director. Smith, taking Lord and Miller's treatment as a template, crafted his own screenplay. However, in April of 2016 Smith left the project over "creative differences."
Then, in June 2016, it was reported that Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) had been hired as the Fastest Man Alive's new helmer. It was stated that Famuyiwa was chosen by Warner Bros. due to his ability to deliver a vision compatible with younger audiences and his happiness with Smith's script. Unfortunately, in October of 2016, Famuyiwa left the project due to—you guessed it—creative differences.
With no potential directors in sight, months afterward, in January 2017, we learned that Warner Bros. had ordered a page-one rewrite from Joby Harold on the film's screenplay. On top of that, it was taken off its original March 23, 2018 release date.
Then, in early March 2017, Warner Bros. was looking to fast-track one of its superhero movies to hit theaters in 2018, and The Flash was a candidate. More recently, it was rumored that Warner Bros. was offering the project to Jordan Peele (Get Out). After all these developments though, it's highly unlikely the hero will get his shot at a solo cinematic adventure in the near future... Sorry, Barry.
'Aquaman' Gets Delayed
In December of 2016, #Aquaman—originally expected to come out on July 27, 2018—was given the new release date of October 5, 2018. After the push back, development of the movie kicked off, and the production wheels began spinning. In March of 2017, however, Warner Bros. announced it had moved the Prince of Atlantis' solo DCEU adventure once again, now to December 21, 2018.
So far, Aquaman is the most stable, still-to-be-released project in the DC franchise with the most development behind it. But even with that, Warner Bros. has shown us multiple times the shifting and unpredictable nature of its plans, so another push-back may for the King of Atlantis may not be off the table.
'Gotham City Sirens' And Suicide Squad Universe
#SuicideSquad was a big gamble for Warner Bros. And even though the film ended up being panned by critics (and a considerable number of fans) it succeeded in the most important area: Box office. On a $120 million budget, it grossed over $740 million.
In light of that, in December of 2016, Warner Bros. announced Suicide Squad 2, a Deadshot solo film and Gotham City Sirens. Out of all of them, it seems the main priorities for the studio (right now) are #GothamCitySirens and Suicide Squad 2.
In early March, it was revealed that Warner Bros. was looking to fast-track a movie to have it hit theaters on 2018, and those two were candidates for that.
The studio is currently searching for someone to direct #SuicideSquad2. In February of 2017, Variety revealed that, among other names like Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) and Daniel Espinosa (Safe House), Mel Gibson was a rumored frontrunner for the job. Other than that though, the majority of the movie has been kept in mystery.
On the other hand, Gotham City Sirens already has a director in #DavidAyer and a possible main villain in Black Mask. So far, out of the three aforementioned movies, it seems this last one will be the one lucky enough to see the dark of a theater very soon.
An Uncertain Future For The Justice League
At the beginning of this wild ride that's been the DCEU, we believed that, no matter how dark the path got with critical reception, #JusticeLeague and its sequel were the bright lights in charge of giving hope to the franchise. Unfortunately, that ended up not being the case.
Last December, THR reported that Warner Bros. had pushed back Justice League 2 from its initial July 14, 2019 release date to make room for Ben Affleck's The Batman. As a result, Zack Snyder decided to move to another project, The Last Photograph. No new date was given and the JL's second adventure is currently in limbo.
This announcement was especially puzzling because at the beginning, the two JL films were subtitled Part One and Part Two, hinting at it being a continuing story. So, for now, Justice League is the only time we'll be seeing our heroes together to fight a threat like no other. As we've already explored, it's likely Warner Bros. is waiting to see how this film performs before moving forward with any more superhero projects.
'Shazam!' Gets Split Into Two Movies
Out of all the DC movies planned, #Shazam! has been the one surrounded with the most skepticism from fans. But it's been the project with the most positive movement in the franchise. It was announced in 2014, that, after his failed attempt at being the intergalactic bounty hunter in Lobo, #DwayneJohnson had signed on to play the treacherous Black Adam.
Since then, no new developments surfaced for the project, until January of 2017, when Warner Bros. announced it was giving Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam his own movie to set him up as the main adversary in Shazam! So far, other than the Rock headlining the film, there's been no movement from #BlackAdam. On the other hand, on February of 2017, we learned that Lights Out director David Sandberg was in final negotiations to direct Shazam!
A Rocky Road And A Change Of Directors For 'The Batman'
Ironically, the movie that promises the most optimistic scenario for the DCEU, is the one that's encountered the most trouble. Cracks began to show when in October of 2016, during an E! News Facebook livestream, #BenAffleck said this:
“There is no 'Batman' movie happening yet, we’re still trying to figure it out, you know, get the script and budget and all that stuff".
At the time, that was a reasonable answer for a project with no release date. Furthermore, everything seemed to be going well for the movie, when, during an interview with ET, #JoeManganiello, who had been cast to play Deathstroke, revealed that production was expected to begin in the spring of 2017.
However, in November of 2016, American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis spoke to The Ringer for a piece on the state of modern Hollywood. In it, he casually revealed that The Batman was not going through the smoothest development process:
“I was having dinner with a couple of executives who know other executives who are working on 'The Batman'. And they were just telling me that there are serious problems with the script. [They] were complaining about people who work on the 'Batman' movie. And they just said they went to the studio and they said, ‘Look, the script is … Here’s 30 things that are wrong with it that we can fix.’"
Normally, this could have been taken as an unfounded rumor in light of the DCEU's bad reputation. But Ben Affleck's remarks about the project and the conditions of his attachment to it were not a good sign. He stated during an interview with The Guardian:
"It’s not a set thing and there’s no script. If it doesn’t come together in a way I think is really great I’m not going to do it.”
Then in January of 2017, Affleck announced his departure as director. The following search for a new helmer was a stressful one. A shortlist of candidates was revealed and some time after that, it was announced that Matt Reeves (Planet of the Apes franchise) was in talks to helm the project.
Then, in February of 2017, Warner Bros. officially announced Matt Reeves as The Batman's new director.
Unfortunately, in March of that same year, it was revealed that Reeves would not be available to work on the project until 2017 due to obligations to War For The Planet Of The Apes, meaning the film would be pushed back a whole year. And on that same week, the studio reportedly ordered a page-one rewrite on the script, which essentially means scrapping everything and starting from scratch.
Right now, #TheBatman is unfortunately in limbo, and there's no guarantee and it's highly unlikely that it will ever see Gotham dark nights.
But A 'Nightwing' Movie Is Finally Happening
It seems like DC and Warner Bros. love to surprise us with their movie announcements. In February of 2017, it was announced that a Nightwing movie was in the works as part of the DCEU.
Lego Batman director Chris McKay was in negotiations to direct the film and the screenplay is being written by Bill Dubuque (The Accountant). Not much is known about the #Nightwing project beyond that, but Warner Bros. already hiring a director tells us the movie is a priority for the studio. Considering the character's core essence, #DickGrayson's solo live-action adventure could be what gives the DC Extended Universe a much needed breath of fresh air.
A 'Batgirl' Solo Film Is Also On The Way
In a move almost nobody saw coming, on March 30, 2017, Variety reported that Joss Whedon was in final talks to bring Batgirl into the DCEU for Warner Bros. in her very first solo movie. It has been rumored that the film will take inspiration from #Batgirl's New 52 comic book run, but so far, details are scarce other than the #JossWhedon connection.
The New Slate
Here's what Warner Bros. and DC's slate looks like now. As you can see, it's considerably bigger than before:
- Wonder Woman (June 2, 2017)
As I said before, Wonder Woman and Justice League have the only ones to not be affected as much since their announcement.
- Justice League (November 17, 2017)
The rest of the lineup is as follows:
- Aquaman (October 5, 2018)
- Black Adam (Release date: TBA)
- Shazam! (April 5, 2019)
- Cyborg (April 3, 2020)
- Green Lantern Corps. (July 24, 2020)
- The Batman (Release date: TBA)
- Gotham City Sirens (Release date: TBA)
- Man of Steel 2 (Release date: TBA)
- Suicide Squad 2 (Release date: TBA)
- Batgirl (Release date: TBA)
- Nightwing (Release date: TBA)
- Deadshot (Release date: TBA)
- Lobo (Release date: TBA)
The key thing about this type of franchise is that they need to be carefully structured to succeed over a long period of time. Yes, the DCEU is not doing well as it could right now. Overall, there simply doesn't seem to be the slightest hint of a plan for where to take the live-action universe.
- A Timeline Of All New & Upcoming DCEU Movies From Now To 2020
- From 'The Crow' To 'Justice League 2': 9 Comic Book Movies With The Highest Risk Of Getting Axed
- 'Watchmen' Could Be Integrated Into The DCEU In An Awesome Way
But the DC pantheon is full of incredible characters that each represent great opportunities for cinematic explorations. Therefore, all that Warner Bros. and its group of talented filmmakers need is a small nudge in the right direction to make the DCEU as successful as it can be.
Which DCEU movie are you most looking forward to seeing?
[Sources: Canoe.com, TheWrap, Newsweek, Deadline, MTV, TheWrap 2, /Film, Variety, THR, THR 2, Deadline 2, THR 3, Variety 2, Forbes, Justin Kroll, The Tracking Board, THR 4, Variety 3, THR 5, Variety 4, THR 6, Variety 5, Deadline 3, Variety 6, Facebook, ET, The Ringer, The Guardian, Variety 7, THR 7, Deadline 4, Justin Kroll 2, /Film 2, THR 8, Variety 8]