After five years of teasing a potential DC Comics shared movie universe, Warner Bros. finally unveiled a multi-year film plan – built on the back of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (and its divisive aftermath). Unceremoniously revealing the DC Comics film slate through 2020, Warner Bros. has yet to present fans with a fully-formed shared universe pitch. Some moviegoers and comic readers will say they don’t need to (and shouldn’t) reveal too much – but casual fans, industry insiders, along with a significant chunk of expectant DC die-hards are eager to see if Batman V Superman is actually building toward something special.
At Comic-Con 2013, Warner Bros. piqued fan interest with news that the Dark Knight and Man of Steel would finally share the live-action screen and, one year later, Snyder wowed the Hall-H crowd with footage from the team-up film. This year, Warner Bros. is expected to bring several Justice League cast members to their Comic-Con panel but what else does the studio need to show attendees – in order to get hold-out skeptics onboard the DC movie universe and pay service to faithful fans?
1. Buzz-Worthy Batman V Superman Footage
Despite a delay into 2015, Batman V Superman remains one of the most highly anticipated comic book film adaptations to ever get a green light. A number of controversial choices have given detractors pause; however, even if certain superhero fans remain skeptical, there’s no question that the World’s Finest face-off/team up movie is poised for big business at the box office. Leaning heavily on the aftermath of Man of Steel, the first Batman V Superman trailer was relatively restrained – with only brief flashes of the Dark Knight and Man of Steel; instead, placing the Superman controversy (rather than the Kryptonian himself) front and center.
That isn’t to say that there weren’t plenty of new details, talking points, and easter eggs to discuss – but, based on everything we know about Batman V Superman, there’s still a lot for Warner Bros. to reveal. As mentioned, the studio’s Hall H panel at Comic-Con 2014 revealed the teaser trailer’s climactic moment: a battle between Superman and an armored Batman. After setting a high bar last year, followed by an reserved marketing campaign, expectations are understandably even higher for Snyder’s next Comic-Con panel.
The studio has to be careful about what they show – since illegal leaks remain a problem for Comic-Con security and the actual battle between Batman and Superman will be the film’s biggest draw. Unlike many films, Dawn of Justice doesn’t need to spoil its star-studded fight to get viewers in the theater; for that reason, in order to maintain surprise, Warner Bros. may limit Batman versus Superman battle footage – opting to show the heroes, and the supporting cast, in more intimate scenes (as Bruce Wayne and/or Clark Kent) with other supporting characters (Alfred Pennyworth and Lois Lane).
Still, with an excitable Hall H crowd waiting overnight to see the panel, Snyder will undoubtedly showcase some memorable Batman and Superman (as well as Batmobile or Wonder Woman) action. An actual scene of the three heroes fighting side-by-side would be a welcome sight but, with Warner Bros. ramping up Batman V Superman marketing in the coming months, fans may have to settle for a Comic-Con exclusive sizzle reel.
Lastly, following images of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor (with hair), Warner Bros. would be smart to showcase footage of Superman’s archenemy – to give fans an idea of how Eisenberg’s unique take on Luthor (as a young tech genius) will fit into the larger DC movie universe going forward. Attentive viewers will recall that Eisenberg’s Luthor debuted (through voiceover) in the Batman V Superman trailer but, while that offered insight into how LexCorp’s president feels about the Man of Steel, actual footage of the actor playing the classic DC villain would be a welcome way to cap-off 2015’s Dawn of Justice sneak peek.
Next Page: The Clown Prince & The Amazonian
2. Jared Leto’s Joker in Suicide Squad
Whereas Warner Bros. would be smart to unveil their Lex Luthor, after the studio debuted Jared Leto’s tattooed Joker to a divisive response on social media, footage of the actor in character should be at the top of DC’s to-do list. Knowledgeable DC readers have explained why Leto’s Joker could be a fresh and memorable take on the classic villain – but nothing will put concerns to rest like actually seeing what the actor and director David Ayer have created.
Prior reports have suggested that Leto has been (disturbingly) diligent in his portrayal of Batman’s archenemy – to the extent that Ayer has enlisted the aid of an on-set psychiatrist – so there’s reason to believe that Suicide Squad (and the larger DC movie universe) is positioned for another biting take on the Clown Prince of Crime. Comic-Con is the perfect opportunity to shift the conversation away from tattoos and false teeth to Leto’s actual performance.
What better way of accomplishing that goal, while paying fan-service to comic book lovers, than by presenting finished footage from a scene of the Joker and fan-favorite anti-hero/villain Harley Quinn. Set photos of Leto and Margot Robbie leaked online during the film’s Vancouver shoot – depicting an intriguing shot of Harley with a gun point-blank to Joker’s head. Since the scene is already out there, why not show fans in Hall H exactly what is going on – teasing Leto’s Joker work as well as introducing fans to Suicide Squad‘s twisted leading lady.
3. Wonder Woman (Anything)
Speaking of strong female characters, Comic-Con 2014 confirmed Wonder Woman’s Batman V Superman look – in an unceremonious reveal of the character’s fiery promotional poster (appearing in the background as Snyder discussed Dawn of Justice). Since that time, Diana Prince (played by Gal Gadot) has appeared in new stills from the movie while Licensing Expo 2015 attendees were treated to a closer look at the costume. However, as DC prepares for Wonder Woman’s solo movie, to be helmed by Monster director Patty Jenkins, few official details have been revealed regarding Diana’s role (and total screen time) in Dawn of Justice.
As a result, and after being largely ignored at Comic-Con 2014, it’s time for Warner Bros. to give Wonder Woman (and actress Gal Gadot) time in the spotlight. Prior attempts to bring the character back (especially the 2011 NBC TV pilot), completely missed the mark of what made Diana an enduring part of the DC Universe – for both young women and men, alike. There’s no question the comic book movie genre would benefit from increased diversity on screen (both in race and gender) but, in addition to being a win for feminist moviegoers, Wonder Woman is just a great character – one that could add a lot to the DCMU.
For that reason, a scene of Wonder Woman in action, or debating with Bruce Wayne as Diana Prince, would be an appreciated sneak peek for fans – and would help put knee-jerk concerns about Gal Gadot to rest. Still, above all else, Warner Bros. needs to show that they’re just as committed to Wonder Woman as they are Batman, Superman, or The Flash – specifically that she is an integral part of this shared movie universe story, not just window-dressing for her male counterparts.
Recent reports have suggested Wonder Woman’s Dawn of Justice role is the “gateway drug” to Justice League. That might be true, but it’s equally important that Wonder Woman’s part in Batman V Superman is also a solid launching pad for the heroine’s solo film chapters.
Next Page: The Justice League Shared Universe
4. A Justice League Tease
Batman V Superman already features several Justice League team members, especially depending on how much Ray Fisher’s Victor Stone (Cyborg) and Jason Momoa’s King Orin (Aquaman) will be involved. However, while some fans may be hoping to see a near-formed Justice League at the end of Dawn of Justice, it’s much more likely that additional heroes will only be seen in cameo. Nevertheless, just because the full Justice League won’t be seen in Batman V Superman, that doesn’t mean Warner Bros. shouldn’t bring the cast to Comic-Con 2015 – to tease the next (big) step after Suicide Squad.
For years, fans have debated whether or not DC could play catchup to Marvel by producing team-ups first – that spun off into solo movies afterward. In 2013, the Batman V Superman announcement made it clear that had DC recognized origin story fatigue – and was planning to introduce audiences to DCCU characters that already had history in the film world (such as Ben Affleck’s aged Batman). To that end, Warner Bros. started locking down key pieces of the roster – years ahead of solo film debuts. While Ray Fisher may appear in several DC movies, the studio cast their Cyborg a full six years before his solo film will debut in 2020.
To that end, it would make sense that the studio begins to utilize the people that they have assembled – to build interest in their shared movie universe team. After all, shared universe storytelling is a key component in Marvel’s record-breaking success – largely because moviegoers know that they need to see every MCU film to fully appreciate the blockbuster event team-ups (The Avengers: Age of Ultron). At this point, the idea of seeing Batman and Superman together on screen is exciting – but it’s important that Warner Bros. also frames their big picture plans.
For months, we’ve speculated (on the Screen Rant Underground podcast) that Snyder could, for example, tease Justice League in Batman V Superman – by simply showing the Dark Knight and Man of Steel inside the bat cave, looking over a series of computer screens – each monitoring an iconic Justice League hero. A simple easter egg like that would go a long way with building excitement for the Justice League movie – without requiring the studio to actually have a Flash or Green Lantern movie, and special effects, in production.
5. A Detailed Longterm DC Movie Plan
After DC’s unceremonious announcement of their planned film schedule through 2020 – with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25th, 2016), Suicide Squad (August 5th, 2016), Wonder Woman (June 23rd, 2017), Justice League (November 17th, 2017), The Flash (March 23rd, 2018), Aquaman (July 27th, 2018), Shazam (April 5th, 2019), Justice League 2 (June 14th, 2019), Cyborg (April 3rd, 2020), and Green Lantern (June 19th, 2020) all in various stages of development – questions began to arise regarding how Warner Bros. intended to fit all of the pieces together.
In particular, Shazam remains a question mark – with different reports suggesting the film will be part of the Justice League universe and, tangentially, the storyline – while others indicate that the Dwayne Johnson-starring movie will not connect any time soon. Similarly, while it shouldn’t be too hard for Warner Bros. to connect Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League, Phase 1 of the DCCU, as the studio branches out into solo movies, they’ll soon face similar challenges as the Marvel movie universe – specifically, crafting a world where God-like aliens and tech-savvy humans face world-threatening evildoers together, then go their separate ways (and tackle smaller threats).
The DCMU might be able to side-step the now-standard question of “Why didn’t X hero help X hero to defeat X villain” by relying on prequel stories as well as post-Justice League team-ups within a solo movie (think Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War); yet, whatever they have planned – there’s no doubt that fans are eager to hear Warner Bros.’ plan, not to mention reassurance that there is a plan.
To that end, based on the investors schedule, only one core Justice League casting spot remains open – Green Lantern. Recent pre-Comic-Con rumors have suggested that Warner Bros. might be in the process of locking in actors for both Hal Jordan and John Stewart – for an appearance by multiple human Lanterns in the 2020 Green Lantern reboot. Given that Green Lantern, whichever Earth hero will take center stage this round, isn’t likely to appear until Justice League (at the earliest), it makes sense that Warner Bros. hasn’t announced casting yet. Regardless, with the rest of the lineup already signed, there’s no better place to debut the new Green Lantern(s) than Comic-Con 2015.
Assembling The Avengers on stage at Comic-Con 2010 (with a last minute addition of Mark Ruffalo) was a milestone for Marvel – and a high-profile tease for the studio’s ambitious shared universe plan. There’s no doubt that a similar move by DC would help skeptics, casual moviegoers, and fans gear-up for Warner Bros.’ robust slate of superhero (and villain) films – proving that the studio is developing an interweaving shared universe – not just a wish-list of post-Justice League solo movie ideas, actors, and release dates.
Of course, our list is not all-inclusive, so be sure to share your own hopes for the Warner Bros Hall-H panel at Comic-Con 2015 in the comments below! What do you think the studio needs to show in order to win over skeptical fans?