Love it or hate it (or something in between), Man of Steel has ushered in a new era for DC’s cinematic universe. The upcoming sequel, known as Batman vs. Superman in lieu of an official title, will introduce at least one of Kal-El’s fellow members of the Justice League, though rumors abound that other superheroes will make an appearance (Robin, it seems, may’ve already been confirmed).

Warner Bros. and DC studio executives having been helping to fan the fire, by dropping hints about upcoming movies that feature Aquaman (who was recently labeled “a priority character”) and Wonder Woman. Discussions about the latter’s overdue feature debut have re-ignited over the past couple of weeks, thanks to Katniss Everdeen’s sequel The Huger Games: Catching Fire tearing up the box office (and proving that, yes, it is possible to make a well-crafted genre movie that both features a female protagonist and is accessible to moviegoers of all genders).

The latest update on the situation is that the DC company’s ‘big announcement’ for 2014 will be a plan to release two lower-budgeted projects a year – one in the springtime and the other in the fall/autumn – alongside the major tentpoles featuring heavy-hitters, like the members of the Justice League (those could be released in theaters every couple of years).

Bleeding Cool previously reported that Davis S. Goyer – whose comic book movie history extends far beyond writing Man of Steel and co-writing The Dark Knight trilogy – may be in line to serve as the architect of the DC film universe hereon forward, now that he’s finally signed a formal deal with WB (after years of working for the studio). The site revealed that movie treatments based on lesser-known DC comic book properties – Suicide Squad, Team 7 and Deathstroke among them – are currently in development, with Goyer serving as the creative foreman.

Suicide Squad – revolving around a team of incarcerated super villains who undertake black ops missions for the government – is a movie that Bleeding Cool reports could be made within the $20-40 million budget range (not including marketing costs), which is fairly small compared to the pretty penny that WB/DC invested for production on Man of Steel ($225 million). Similarly, shows like Once Upon a Time have demonstrated that the world of Fables – a noir-influenced comic book property about fairy tale characters – can be satisfactorily realized on a TV budget, so a relatively cheap full-length feature (which DC President Diane Nelson has expressed interest in making) seems perfectly feasible.

Additionally, if this report proves accurate, then it goes to show how much the DC game plan has evolved and changed over the past year, considering it was less than twelve months ago that producer Dan Lin claimed that the company (and WB) intends to “finish their A-list stories first,” before tackling more obscure superhero properties. (Marvel Studios will help to pave that road next year, when it releases Guardians of the Galaxy in theaters.)

Last year when news leaked about DC setting in motion a movie adaptation of The Metal Men comic book series – with Men in Black trilogy helmer Barry Sonnenfeld attached to direct – and Suicide Squad was ‘announced’ near the same time, it seemed like a sign that DC might not imitate Marvel Studios’ approach with its cinematic universe. And that would be justifiable, as we’ve discussed before how different Marvel and DC properties are from one another, thematically/artistically speaking – so why should their movies be constructed in the same fashion?

There’s a risk inherent to this rumored DC approach, as the lower-budgeted superhero films won’t have built-in awareness like Marvel releases (or, as a similar example, Lucasfilm’s plans for Star Wars spinoffs in between the upcoming Episodes); as we saw with Dredd, lower-cost niche comic book adaptations can be strong creative accomplishments, but unfortunately that doesn’t guarantee a large turnout at the box office.

Still, if the superhero genre is to continue thriving in the future, then it needs to continue diversifying in terms of content – and that’s something that the proposed DC approach would encourage.

Batman vs. Superman opens in theaters on July 17th, 2015.

Source: Bleeding Cool