During its Q2 2022 earnings report presentation, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) – the newly merged entertainment corporation – has revealed its plans to build a Marvel Cinematic Universe-style franchise for its own superhero film series. That being the case, the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), which is later expected to undergo a significant reboot.
Wait, Warner Bros. Haven’t you already tried that? Yes, with a lineup of films led by Zack Snyder before the studio shelved those plans in favor of a disconnected project approach and multiverse style. That plan was relatively successful, but now that Warner Bros. and Discovery have joined forces, it’s a model that’s being sidelined for an MCU-like franchise.
Black Adam star Dwayne Johnson’s claim that the “hierarchy of power in the DCEU is about to change” suddenly takes on greater meaning – but that can’t be what the Hollywood star had in mind when he originally conceived this one. phrase.
Like this? Because Warner Bros. Discovery won’t work – and that’s because of the numerous projects in development and productions ready for release on its current roster.
I don’t want them to follow the MCU. I want them to make their own formula. Aff More creative projects like The Batman and The Suicide Squad that don’t necessarily need to be tied together by an interconnected universe pic.twitter.com/ttQ3R20ZAYAugust 4, 2022
There are currently four DCEU movies slated to hit theaters between October 2022 and June 2023 – Black Adam, Shazam!: Fury of the Gods, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and The Flash. These movies have locked release dates, but as the CEO of Warner Bros. Discover, David Zaslav, explained during the latest company earnings report (opens in new tab): “We’re not going to release any movie before it’s ready.”
Does this mean the foursome could see their release dates changed again? And, in the case of Flash, could it be fully archived? There has been a lot of negative press surrounding the film recently, with numerous allegations made against lead star Ezra Miller. Warner Bros. Discovery has shown it’s not afraid to ditch projects that are almost ready for release – the shocking cancellation of its Batgirl movie earlier this week is testament to that. Those involved in The Flash, then, may be worried about meeting a similar fate.
This brings us to a broader view around legacy DCEU content – i.e. where, or even What ifthey fit the new Warner Bros. movie and TV show plan. Discovery.
Characters like Shazam, The Flash and Aquaman already exist in the DCEU, so what does that mean for them in the new WBD plan? Will Zachary Levi, Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa – the main stars of these franchises – be kept, or will WBD reshape them as it reboots its cinematic superhero universe?
What about Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman or Henry Cavill’s Superman? The first is set to have a third solo release, while Cavill has consistently stated his desire to reprise his role as Man of Steel despite the fact that he hasn’t appeared in a DC movie since 2017’s Justice League. Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League, which arrived on HBO Max in March 2021.
Will WBD keep these actors in their current roles and use their star power to help restart their shared cinematic universe? Or, like Levi, Momoa and Miller, do you wipe the slate clean and cast new actors in these roles?
If Warner Bros. Discovery going the first way risks confusing viewers when, say, a new Wonder Woman movie comes out. Audiences might think a third film starring Gal Gadot takes place in the DCEU when, in fact, it might reside in the rebooted DC Cinematic Universe from the WBD. This has happened before with a DC movie, with the Suicide Squad cast and crew struggling to clarify whether the 2021 movie was a reboot or sequel to the Suicide Squad of the same name released in 2016.
This is an issue that extends to other DCEU properties. Matt Reeves’ Batman is completely disconnected from other DCEU productions; the latest Batman movie series to exist in its own pocket universe. A sequel has been approved by Warner Bros. prior to its merger with Discovery, while two spin-off projects – one starring Colin Farrell’s Penguin and another described as an Arkham Asylum horror series – are currently in the works.
How does WBD work Batman’s mini-universe into its revamped and interconnected film series? Does it merge with the new DC cinematic universe, or will the Batman-Verse continue to exist in a separate timeline? If it’s the latter, WBD won’t be able to bring the Dark Knight into its new cinematic universe – like the Wonder Woman conundrum, having two Batman characters in different movie franchises would confuse audiences.
Pick the former option, however, and Reeves’ comprehensive plan for The Batman-Verse would need to undergo some significant tweaks to squeeze him into WBD’s new lineup of DC movies and TV series. That might not sit well with Reeves and company, however, especially when Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker-centric movie series is being allowed to exist in its own universe.
A sequel to the duo’s award-winning 2018 film is coming in October 2024, so clearly WBD is happy that some DC properties are alongside their rebooted DC cinematic universe. But again, won’t that muddy the waters? If WBD wants people to buy into its shiny new superhero cinematic universe, wouldn’t it be better if all of your productions were interconnected?
What about current DCEU shows that exist on HBO Max, other streamers or broadcast TV channels? Well, WBD doesn’t have to worry about The CW’s Arrowverse – that franchise is set to end next year when The Flash’s final season airs.
But there are other projects in the works. A second season of Peacemaker starring John Cena is on the way, and showrunner James Gunn claims he’s safe from the chopping block (opens in new tab). Green Lantern and Justice League Dark were also getting TV adaptations prior to the Warner Bros. Discovery merger, while there are plenty of animated series – including Harley Quinn – that may or may not continue past the current seasons.
Warner Bros. Discovery might think it has a brilliant plan to rework the DCEU – even if it’s one that appears to replicate the success of the movie giant Marvel Studios. However, the WBD has some big questions it needs to answer before it even thinks about moving forward with its 10-year plan for an MCU-style franchise. Stop responding to any of them effectively, and your last cinematic reboot will stop before you even leave the garage.
For more DCEU-based content, check out our ranking of all DC superhero movies to date.