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What DC Needs To Do To Win SDCC 2018

San Diego Comic Con 2018 is DC's chance to shine. This year's SDCC will be a strangely muted affair, with two of the biggest studios choosing to skip their usual Hall H presentations. Marvel's next film isn't due out until March 2019, and the studio doesn't want to risk spoiling Avengers 4 by announcing their forthcoming slate. Meanwhile, Lucasfilm's next movie won't actually release until next December, and so they'd always planned to have a "pause" in their marketing. Given the controversy Star Wars has generated so far this year, the fans may need a pause year, too.

But that leaves DC Films a unique and unprecedented chance. The nascent DCEU has had a serious PR problem for years, with the studio struggling to establish a positive narrative for their films. But the last year seems to have seen the DCEU turn the corner on that, finally generating some positive buzz, as hype builds for AquamanShazam!, and Wonder Woman 1984. A strong performance at SDCC could further cement the excitement, and build up considerable momentum for Aquaman's December release.

Related: Why The MCU Is Skipping SDCC

So just what do DC Films need to do in order to "win" at SDCC this year? It's not good enough to be the "last studio standing." Rather, they need to take this opportunity to show the world just what the DCEU has to offer.

Footage for Aquaman, Shazam!, and Wonder Woman 2

Warner Bros. is already doing a good job pushing Aquaman. In June, director James Wan confirmed that the film's first trailer would drop at SDCC. In the immediate run-up to that trailer drop, Warner Bros. has treated excited fans to a veritable flood of Aquaman news. The studio dropped the first poster at the same time as they lifted an embargo on set visits from last year. That's ensured viewers have been given an idea of just what to expect from the film, including first accounts of the movie's plot and a sense of the character arcs for stars like Jason Momoa's Aquaman and Amber Heard's Mera. That's already ensured the film is catching the public eye. A good trailer, supported by a star-studded Aquaman panel and hopefully even some additional footage, would turn this into a tremendous success for Warner Bros..

Warner Bros. is also choosing to use Comic-Con to drop the trailer for Shazam! as well. Although this film isn't due out until April next year, the studio clearly believes the Hall H panel - with all the hype and excitement surrounding it - is the perfect place to launch Shazam!'s marketing campaign. It seems reasonable to assume Shazam! will have less of a presence a than Aquaman, given the film won't release till next year, but there should surely still be a few panel guests. It would also be a perfect opportunity to drop some more footage.

We're not going to get a trailer from Wonder Woman: 1984, as director Patty Jenkins only began shooting the film in June. But it wouldn't be a surprise to see some early footage, and the panel could always include some special guests - Gal Gadot has already been rumored.

Related: All 6 Joker Movies DC Has In Development, Explained

For best effect, all the footage shown at the panel should really be released online. Some studios choose not to do this, preferring to make Comic-Con a unique experience for the fans. There are also concerns that unfinished scenes may look good on a screen at SDCC, but won't bear up to frequent rewatching of high-resolution versions on YouTube. In this specific case, though, Warner Bros. would be wise to make the footage available to everyone. The studio doesn't just want to sell these films to the 130,000+ attendees of Comic-Con. They want the whole world to sit up and take note, to be won over by DC Films' plans, and to believe that some truly tremendous superhero movies are coming out. Meanwhile, the hype around these movies is already so positive that most viewers will overlook any flaws in unfinished footage.

Page 2 of 2: Lay Out The Future of the DCEU

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Key Release Dates
  • Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
  • Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
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