In 2016, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment will finally expand their much-awaited shared DC cinematic universe (dubbed the DC Extended Universe) with both Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and David Ayer’s Suicide Squad hitting theaters. After presentations for the two films went over very well at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, anticipation for the movies has only grown and many are eager to see how all the pieces come together.
We know that Suicide Squad is going to have some connections to the larger Justice League universe; Batman (Ben Affleck) was featured in a brief sequence during the trailer, and it’s been rumored that Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is in possession of Aquaman’s (Jason Momoa) trident. But from the sound of it, Ayer won’t be forcing in too many Easter eggs during his film.
In an interview with Metro, DCEU Superman Henry Cavill confirmed that he would not be appearing in Suicide Squad, but left the possibility open for a role in a potential sequel. Given the full slate of DC films Warner Bros. is working with right now, that Suicide Squad followup is probably a long ways away, so it’s best to focus on Cavill not having a part in next summer’s film.
On the outset, it’s really not that shocking that Superman won’t be featured in the film. Even though Kal-El is a large part of the world, there’s no rule that says he must be in every DC film. After all, Iron Man doesn’t stop by every Marvel movie just to show audiences that the projects are part of the same franchise. There are organic ways to establish connective tissue, and it’s best for the filmmakers to pursue those options so nothing comes across as forced. Plus, with the focus of Suicide Squad being the evildoers of the universe, it’s hard to see where exactly Superman would fit.
That’s not to say Superman won’t be mentioned in Suicide Squad. You may recall a line in the trailer where Amanda Waller speculates that the Last Son of Krypton’s appearance in Man of Steel may have influenced her prisoners with “abilities” to come out of hiding and usher in a new era for society. The catastrophic Battle of Metropolis obviously had major repercussions in the DCEU (it’s the basis for the Batman v Superman conflict), so it would seem odd if Suicide Squad didn’t at least acknowledge what has happened and how it affects the actions of the characters in the film. That’s all part of your standard film universe building.
Obviously, we still need to see how the DCEU plays out over the next five years, but this development also raises some questions about Warner Bros.’ methods with developing their films. Snyder has stated that even though all of the movies are connected to each other, he still wants all the various directors to be able to “stretch their legs” and put their own stamp on their films. Batman v Superman producer Charles Roven even indicated that the studio would be willing to “push our boundaries” to allow some more creative leeway if the director needed. Warner Bros. has maintained from the start that a filmmaker-driven approach is what they’re striving for.
And that’s what seems to be happening here. Warner Bros. hired Ayer to tell the best possible Suicide Squad story on-screen, and the narrative he came up with simply does not require a scene or two with Superman. That Kal-El isn’t in the film should be comforting for fans, as it shows the studio is serious about letting their directors work somewhat independently within the larger sandbox of their blossoming franchise and craft compelling films.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern Corps on June 19th, 2020.