There's a shake up happening down at the DC camp right now, and it's name is [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870).
You may remember the little film that released back in March of this year. Despite the massive hype generated by relentless marketing in the run-up to release and a box office-breaking debut weekend, the little DC film that couldn't took a historic drop in profits by the time the second weekend came around, and was generally panned by critics and fans alike.
It also made Ben Affleck very sad.
For DC and Warner Bros., this was a wake up call. Man of Steel received a middling reception from critics and the fanbase was divided, but it was still a box office success, grossing over $668 million on a $225 million budget.
But, though Batman v Superman also made bank — $869.9 million on a budget of "at least $300 million," according to The Hollywood Reporter — it didn't reach anything like the heights execs had been anticipating, and the slew of negative reviews did little to make it feel worthy.
And so, of course, there are repercussions. Shortly after the release of Batman v Superman a petition started circulating to "Boot Zack Snyder off of Justice League," singling out the man many fans believe to be at fault for the failings of the DC Extended Universe thus far.
Snyder's future within the DCEU remains seemingly solid; he's still attached to both parts of the Justice League movies, despite his baffling rants about the possibility of having Batman "raped in prison." But things are certainly going to change in the wake of this new shake up that sees Warner Bros. establishing a dedicated division for the DCEU — DC Films — and shifting oversight of the DC projects to executives Jon Berg and Geoff Johns.
As part of this shake up, both Berg and Johns will become producers for the Justice League movies, alongside the recently appointed Ben Affleck as an executive producer for the two-parter. So, what does this mean for the DCEU?
Jon Berg is the current Executive VP of Creative Development & Production for Warner Bros. Pictures, a producer already tied to Batman v Superman as well as the upcoming DCEU slate of Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League.
Having Berg overseeing DC Films could be a welcome spark for the dreary DCEU, as thus far the cinematic universe has been almost utterly devoid of levity and — more importantly — hope. Berg has a touch of experience with the lighter side of things, as he served as a producer of Elf and Meet Dave, as well as the action side of things with Edge of Tomorrow and the upcoming Geostorm.
But perhaps most pertinently, he has a history with the man behind the DCEU Batman cowl — Ben Affleck — who is currently slated to direct and star in a Batman solo feature based upon his own script. The two worked together both on Affleck's Oscar-winning Argo, and the recently wrapped Live by Night.
Given that Affleck's portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman was one of the few bright spots picked out of Batman v Superman by critics, a strong working relationship here with one of the stronger creative forces of the DCEU can only bring about good things.
Geoff Johns's name may be familiar to many readers. The Chief Creative Officer at DC Comics since 2010, Johns is the driving force behind DC Comics making the breakthrough into television with Smallville, Arrow and The Flash.
Originally a comic book writer known for The Flash, Green Lantern, Infinite Crisis and Teen Titans, Johns later made the leap to executive, working as a writer and exec on multiple shows including Smallville and Blade: The Series. He served as co-producer and creative consultant for the movie adaptation of Green Lantern, and was an executive producer on Batman v Superman.
But Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl might be his biggest achievement in the DC live action universe, as he was instrumental in working with Greg Berlanti to bring these shows to life. According to THR, he's also currently co-writing the solo Batman movie with Ben Affleck.
Johns's greatest strength as one of the heads of DC Films is that he has one foot planted firmly in the world of DC Comics as the CCO, the other in Warner Bros., and an intimate knowledge of the history of the comics and characters within them since his time as one of the most popular contemporary DC comic book writers.
Given that the DCEU movies have been plagued with poor characterization thus far, his increased input could do wonders for the upcoming films, Justice League in particular.
Not So Marvel-ous
There's nothing like a bit of friendly rivalry between studios, and DC and Marvel have historically been on this knife edge — competitors often working together on titles while outright copying each other's characters and competing for those sweet sweet sales figures.
This shake up seemingly reflects Warner Bros. making moves to emulate Marvel Studios/Disney's massively successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, by bringing together long-serving film executive Jon Berg with seasoned comic book writer and experienced exec Geoff Johns, to try and steer the DCEU away from running aground too early.
Whether or not it will work, and whether DC can catch up to Marvel, with [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) on the road to breaking $1 billion at the worldwide box office in its second week of US release, remains to be seen.
One thing is for sure though, something needed to happen in the wake of Batman v Superman, and this is it. How successful the DCEU will be from here on in relies on a lot more than just Berg and Johns, but here's hoping they're up to the challenge of steering the cinematic universe towards adolescence. Failing that, there's always the TV shows.