A universe is defined as: all existing matter and space considered as a whole. The appeal of a cinematic universe is exactly that; it is a universe, everything is connected. Through their formula of Easter-eggs and post-credit scenes, Marvel was able to create the first truly expansive cinematic universe, and we all know how that worked out for them. Now, it is Warner Brothers turn, and Film Chief Greg Silverman had this to say on their approach to the DC Cinematic Universe.
We have a great strategy for the DC films, which is to take these beloved characters and put them in the hands of master filmmakers and make sure they all coordinate with each other. You’ll see the difference when you see Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, Justice League and all the things that we are working on. The filmmakers who are tackling these properties are making great movies about superheroes; they aren’t making superhero movies. And when you are trying to make a good movie, you tackle interesting philosophies and character development.
The key word in that quote is coordinate. With all of this talk of a film-maker driven approach, it is crucial that these film-makers are able to due exactly what they were hired to do: build an interconnecting universe. While it has yet to be determined if they will be using post-credit scenes, based on their first entry in their universe, 'Man of Steel', it would be safe to assume they are not going that route. So with that being said, how exactly will they coordinate these films? Is it going to be direct dialogue, mentioning other characters, or back-hand references? Are there going to be blatant, in-your-face Easter eggs, or will only the keenest of eyes be able to pick them up? Or, are superheroes and villains going to just start popping up in their counterpart's movies? The recent Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman trailers might have answered some of those questions:
Connections made in the Batman vs Superman trailer
Our first taste of universe building came in the [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870) trailer, connecting Bruce Wayne to the events of Man Of Steel:
Then, came the allusions to the Joker, which were pretty direct (although, there is one that I'm not sold on).
A defiled Robin suit, with HAHAH written on it, is an obvious reference to the Joker. This all but confirms the long-standing rumor that the Joker has killed one of the Robin's in this universe. Whether it is Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, or Tim Drake has yet to be seen.
This next image is being widely considered to be another reference to The Joker, however I disagree. Rather, it is this image that makes me believe the Robin that the Joker has killed was Jason Todd, instead of Grayson or Drake. I believe this image is a reference to the Red Hood:
My reasoning: since when does the Joker know that Batman is Bruce Wayne? There have been few interpretations of Batman where anyone knows who he is, let alone the Joker. However, one of the few rogues in Batman lore who knows exactly who Batman is none other than Jason Todd, the Red Hood. Similarly, tormenting Bruce Wayne over the fact that he let 'family' die is exactly something the Red Hood would do, as he constantly reminds Batman of how he failed him.
Also, there have been rumors that Jason Todd/Red Hood is a priority character for DC in their new cinematic universe, and that his death at the hands of the Clown Prince of Crime is the reason behind Harley Quinn's estranged relationship with The Joker at the beginning of 'Suicide Squad'; and I believe these images confirm those rumors.
Connections made in the Suicide Squad trailer
This past week, the Suicide Squad trailer was released to wide-spread praise, and with it, came more hints as to how DC plans to establish their universe.
Conveniently, Suicide Squad's first instance of universe building came in the opening lines of the trailer. Amanda Waller, played by Viola Davis (who looks to be one of the many scene-stealers in this movie), begins by saying this, presumably about The Joker:
It's taken some work but I finally have him; the worst of the worst.
This suggests that not only has The Joker been captured, but it took quite some time to do so. Then, comes a direct reference to Man of Steel, when Waller says this about the Suicide Squad:
Maybe Superman was some kind of beacon for them to creep back from the shadows.
So in the opening seconds of the trailer, we have an immediate connection to the events of Man of Steel, as well as some of an idea of The Joker's history in this universe.
Soon thereafter we get our first glimpse of an imprisoned Harley Quinn, who is being spoken to by Waller. This backs up the rumor that the death of Jason Todd has caused a fracture in her relationship with The Joker, which is the reason Waller is recruiting her for Task Force X.
Another minor universe building block that most people have not caught, is this image of a gunman in a Batman mask. What this suggests is that Batman is not just some mythical figure in this universe, he is enough of a known quantity to warrant knockoff masks. People know that he exists, and understand the irony of robbing someone with a Batman mask on. While subtle, it gives fans an idea of Batman's standing in this universe as well.
Towards the end of the trailer, in what is presumed to be a flash back, we get our first glimpse of Batman and The Joker going at it in the DC cinematic universe.
Then, in one the final scenes of the trailer, we get our first good look at The Joker, and how his relationship with Harley Quinn began. By the looks of it, it was none to pleasant for poor Harley.
Then, in the final, already iconic, image, The Joker is seen telling somebody how much he is going to hurt them. Based on the previous image, it is most likely Harley Quinn that he is talking to, however, there is a very slim chance he could be talking to Jason Todd.
From just two trailers, fans have learned quite a lot about the DC Cinematic Universe, but what exactly did we learn? Let's summarize (mind you, half of this is my speculation, I'm just stating my opinion!) :
In the beginning of Man of Steel, before Superman's battle with Zod, Bruce Wayne had not donned the Batman cowl in sometime. After about two decades of battling The Joker and other villains, Batman retired. Based on the vandalized Robin armor seen in the trailer, Jason Todd's death appears to be the very reason he retired. Similarly, Todd's death caused Harley Quinn to feel guilty about what she and the Joker did to him, causing their relationship to become estranged and the reason she agrees to take The Joker down as a part of Amanda Waller's Suicide Squad.
However, after witnessing Superman's battle with Zod first hand, and losing a Wayne Financial building, presumably with friends inside of it, Bruce decides to come out of retirement to try and stop Superman. At some point in the movie, he receives a news paper clipping with "You let your family die" written on it. While many believe this is from the Joker, I believe it is in fact from the Red Hood, Jason Todd, reminding Bruce of his failures. The Joker has never known Bruce Wayne is Batman, but Red Hood certainly has. Either way, whether the newspaper is from The Joker or Jason Todd, it still ties together with the rest of the theory.
And that, my friends, is how you establish a universe.