Now that Man of Steel has overcome divisive critical opinion (read our review) by scoring the biggest June opening weekend ever, talk amongst fanboys and fangirls has inevitably turned to the already in-development sequel (tentatively titled Man of Steel 2), as well as the larger future plans for DC Comics and Warner Bros.’ superhero universe – which will (hopefully, maybe) one day culminate with a Justice League team-up film.
In late 2012 it was announced that Justice League would arrive in 2015 to compete against Marvel’s Avengers 2; however, as the success of Man of Steel became more and more clear, the studio’s focus shifted from the team-up film to milking their rebooted Superman franchise for all the billions it is likely worth. But today, we have new word that, while focuses may have indeed changed, Justice League and a second Superman movie might be closer linked than anyone thought.
The Wall Street Journal reports that they have inside sources at DC/WB claiming that Man of Steel 2 is being fast-tracked for release in 2014, and that Justice League could follow thereafter in 2015 as originally announced. And while fans caught up in the afterglow of MoS are probably ecstatic to hear this rumor, there are quite a few other people who are going to do a total facepalm when hearing this.
There have been debates about how DC/WB should build its Justice League universe (i.e., do the opposite of Marvel and start with a teamup film early on, or follow Marvel and release standalone character stories), but no matter which approach you agree with, I think every fan of the DC Universe can agree, nobody wants an overly-rushed series of films. And if this rumor holds any weight, it sounds like that’s exactly what could be happening. Then again – the rumor is a little hard to believe.
The timing alone would be crazy: director Zack Snyder and writer David S. Goyer – not to mention star Henry Cavill – have literally just finished selling the world on seeing their new Superman vision (and still have some red carpets to walk overseas); the turnaround time from marketing and promoting this first film, filming the sequel, doing months of post-production effects work and then going back out to promote MoS2? Even if it could be done, the quality of that work would be dubious, at best. Snyder himself has recently denied such a timetable exists, and with certain Man of Steel 2 story elements needing to be figured out first, just getting the sequel figured out on paper could take about a year.
A look at Marvel Studios’ franchises tells us that the quick turnaround demands of a shared universe can wear down your casts and creative teams. Films like Fast & Furious 7 (which is going through a big director switch due to a rushed production schedule) have fans skeptical about the strategy of altering a working formula for the sake of getting a sequel out quick-fast. DC/WB may want to get a Superman sequel out soon, yes, but they may want to consider the divisive response to the first film and focus on polishing those wrinkles into a superior sequel.
As to the thought of Justice League coming out in 2015: who would direct it? Zack Snyder would be busy with MoS2, and so far his name has been the most likely nomination for the job. Henry Cavill would be near dead from exhaustion if he had to knock out another Superman flick and a Justice League flick in the next two years (see again: Marvel’s issues with Robert Downey Jr.) – which is just one more reason why this sounds a little too doubtful to be true.
Man of Steel 2 (Last Son of Krypton would be my preferred sequel title) in 2015? Justice League 2016 or 2017? That I would be more inclined to believe – that is, if DC/WB is even interested in moving into a team-up that quickly, instead of trying to launch more multi-million-to-billion-dollar solo character franchises featuring Oscar-caliber talent and proven creative teams (Nolan, Goyer, Snyder).
Don’t be surprised if we soon get an official timetable from Warner Bros on the future of their DC Movieverse (Comic-Con is just around the corner, kids); until then, discuss for yourselves how likely or not any of this sounds. Do you still want to see that Batman/Superman movie first?
Man of Steel is now in theaters. We’ll see what happens beyond that.