Ah the DC Extended Universe. Four films in and they’ve only just had their real critical success with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman. If you haven’t seen it yet I strongly recommend that you do.
But with the success of Wonder Woman comes a lot of risk for Warner Brothers. How they handle themselves going forward will be most telling of their future intentions. I’m not talking so much about Wonder Woman 2 – the first one has barely been out for three weeks. I’m talking about how they handle their future releases. Last week Sie did a pretty great Top 10 Ways to Save the DC Extended Universe that you can check out here.
The DCEU has had four films so far. Guess what? They’ve got another 16 planned in various stages of development. The list is below.
- Justice League (2017)
- Aquaman (2018)
- Shazam (2019)
- Cyborg (2020)
- Green Lantern Corps (2020)
- The Batman (TBA)
- The Flash (TBA)
- Justice League Dark (TBA)
- Justice League Part 2 (TBA)
- Man of Steel Sequel (TBA)
- Suicide Squad 2 (TBA)
- Gotham City Sirens (TBA)
- Black Adam (TBA)
- Nightwing (TBA)
- Batgirl (TBA)
- Wonder Woman 2 (TBA)
You might be thinking so what? Marvel just released their 15th film in the MCU with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. But Marvel also had a very intricate plan from the beginning, culminating in Marvel’s The Avengers. When they announced their plans for Phase 3 they invited the press and a whole bunch of fans and put on a good show with Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans and Chadwick Boseman showing up. Warner Bros did theirs in a shareholders meeting.
Now don’t get me wrong, even Marvel aren’t immune to missteps – Doctor Strange literally just felt like Iron Man and Ant-Man with a bit of magic thrown in.
But come on, sixteen movies? They’ve only just had their first critically received movie – currently sitting with 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. They need to take a break before they rush all these films into production – and that’s if they make it to production at all.
You’ve probably heard all the drama with The Batman. It had a script and then there was a page one rewrite. Joe Manganiello was confirmed to be playing Deathstroke, but now he isn’t even sure if he is in the film. Matt Reeves is directing. No he isn’t. Wait, yes he is.
The Flash has lost a bunch of directors and had a few rewrites. If rumours are to be believed they are eyeing Phil Lord and Christopher Miller who were recently removed from the Han Solo Film.
Warner Brothers feel like they want to be the ones to crack the next big thing. They, and studios like Sony seem to have a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” mentality going. These studios just feel too overeager to please that they end up shooting themselves in the foot each and every time. Fans reacted mostly positively to Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) in Suicide Squad – not long after they announce Gotham City Sirens. Maybe they should be focusing on spending more than six weeks writing a script for one of their movies.
Wonder Woman was praised with positive reviews and genuine love upon release. The next day, I saw articles online talking about the sequel – the next day! Why not wait until you see what you have on your hands first before rushing the sequel to your first critical success into pre-production.
Warner Brothers I’m talking directly to you now. You need to do two simple things from here on out. Slow the hell down – no one is really desperate for a Black Adam or Shazam movie. Nightwing can wait a few more years and Justice League Dark already has a decent animated film, focus energy for a sequel there. Take time to really flesh out the screenplays and trust the visions of the directors you hire.
Second, stop trying to compete with Marvel. You don’t need to. You have all the tools – more, I’d say – to create whatever kind of superhero movie you want. Let’s face it – Marvel won’t go too dark. They try to spin their movies that way in trailers (Age of Ultron) but they’ll still be quippy and bright (not that that’s a bad thing). You can make your movies dark, you can make them bright and colourful and funny – you can do whatever you want, take advantage of that.
Look to Wonder Woman and Patty Jenkins for guidance. Jenkins created a movie with such a strong emotional core that I cared about the characters deeply that it makes the slower moments in the film still mean something. Wonder Woman had a personal touch and real care put into it – you could see that on the screen.
Take time and care with your films; treat each one as an individual first, not just a smaller part of a greater whole. Create great scenes, not just great moments. Don’t rush to meet a deadline – if a movie needs to be delayed to get it just right then delay it. Fans would rather a good movie than a shit one if it means having to wait another month or two.
With Geoff Johns and Jon Berg heading everything up, we have to hope they can guide the DCEU into a brighter future. Johns knows his stuff and with Wonder Woman gelling well with audiences, hopefully it is the kick the DCEU needs to get on their way to creating a fantastic shared movie universe.