Zack Snyder's Man of Steel marked the beginning of the DC Extended Universe, and now Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is going to bring together DC's two biggest heroes - Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) - on the big screen for the very first time. Not only will a philosophical conflict end up (presumably) uniting the two, but the movie will also introduce moviegoers to Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg), more key players in the DCEU.
As Batman v Superman's release date nears, more information is being released to fans who are anxious to learn more about the Justice League movie universe. There was previously a lot of secrecy surrounding the project, but the action-packed San Diego Comic-Con 2015 BVS trailer shed much more light on the project, and now the film's crew are opening up about the comic book adaptation.
Building the DCEU
During an interview with Empire, Snyder explained how he and Warner Bros. are constructing the DC Extended Universe. The director stated they're building "one giant story" and claims they're giving the directors behind the several spinoffs (e.g. Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Suicide Squad, etc.) the creative freedom they need - while also working closely with them to make sure there is cohesion between the solo movies and the bigger picture:
"The first thing we had was the Justice League concept. The other movies, in a way, have to support that. That is our Wonder Woman, our Aquaman. They have their own creative concepts that supports them, but they do serve Justice League in the coming together of those heroes."
"I want all the other directors of the other films to be able to stretch their legs and do what they want, but at the same time there is a big interconnected universe. I have given everyone amazing access to our story, to me, and what we are doing. All the films have like minded conceptual jumping on points."
Marvel Studios has been building its cinematic universe since 2008 and has generated huge success, both financially and critically. Naturally, DC is beginning to establish its universe much later and the decision to already place its two most popular heroes at odds has some fans skeptical about the studio's long-term plans for this universe. However, as BVS producer Deborah Snyder explained, the DC filmmakers have "kind of a timeline of what every movie is, where it is going, and where the films fit in relation to each other.
Another BVS producer, Charles Roven, discussed this map (which, it turns out, is a literal map at the WB/DC headquarters) in greater detail:
"We call it the sandbox. It has borders around it, but everybody gets to play in the sandbox. On Suicide Squad, David Ayer has a lot of specific control over his area of the sandbox. Even if he crosses the line a little bit, we see if we can push our boundaries back a little bit."
One question about Dawn of Justice remains: Aquaman (Jason Momoa) has a cameo, but is it a quick Easter Egg or a noteworthy appearance? When asked about the Atlantean by Empire, Snyder teased that fans will "understand he exists." So, that sounds like Momoa won't have a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of cameo and he'll instead receive an introduction that even general moviegoers will be able to notice.
Marvel V DC
Seeing as WB/DC has announced its slate of DC movies until 2020 and comic book movies - if handled properly - can become a huge success, so it's very likely the studio's carefully making decisions over its upcoming films and how they'll be connected. (Whether or not fans will respond positively to those decisions is a whole other story.)
While Marvel Studios has earned a huge following by presenting superhero movies that can, for the most part, appeal to fans of any age, DC has taken a "darker" and more "serious" approach to its projects - so far, that is. Because of that, there's been a lot of Marvel vs. DC talk amongst fans - and there probably always will be - but the minds behind constructing the DC Extended Universe say they don't view it as a competition with Marvel. Instead, producer Deborah Snyder simply says they're both taking a different approach to their characters and she's even given Marvel some praise:
"I can see how people would want to make it this big, intense rivalry. Listen, they are so great. I loved Guardians of the Galaxy...our films are a bit more serious. They deal with things that are a little darker. Things that place them in our world."
Meanwhile, Zack Snyder said he's glad they're introducing their version of Batman as a co-star and stated Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy established the tone for DC's films:
"If it was a Batman movie it would be a much more difficult proposition because of how good Chris' movies are. We live in gratitude to those movies. Chris set a tone for the DC Universe, and separated us from Marvel in a great way. We are the legacy of those movies."
Whether you're excited or pessimistic about what's to come, it seems clear DC and WB do indeed have a plan in mind for the next several years and, for now, they're sticking to it. 2016 is sure to be a big year for them because BVS will help determine just how interested moviegoers are in seeing the expansion - or should we say extension? - of DC's universe on the big screen, and then Suicide Squad will reveal if a movie about villains (one which doesn't rely on a core Justice Leaguer) can work for the studios. If so, one can only imagine which properties the studio may choose to adapt after 2020.
Could we be living in the version of Earth that'll one day see the release of a Secret Six movie? Let's hope so...
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.