As the DC Extended Universe moves forward, it looks like it will be embracing a less restrictive continuity than its peers. Like Marvel, DC spent years bringing its various characters to the big screen before opting for a cohesive shared universe. But whereas Marvel has been crafting its Marvel Cinematic Universe for a decade, the DCEU has really only just begun. With four movies so far, this fall's Justice League will both mark the first big team-up for the franchise and usher in something of a new era for the universe.
We've known for some time that DC was interested in a sort of side universe operating in the Warner Bros. New Line imprint. It's there that Justice League Dark will reportedly come to life, and some have theorized Shazam! and Black Adam may do the same. The news of multiple Joker movies now being in development, however, has added more fuel to the fire that DC and WB is embracing a different shared universe approach. Now, we have more insight into their though-process on the matter.
Vulture spoke with DC Entertainments heads Diane Nelson and Geoff Johns about the future of the DCEU, and they had some interesting things to say about the shape it will take. According to Nelson, continuity is still key, but with a twist:
"Our intention, certainly, moving forward is using the continuity to help make sure nothing is diverging in a way that doesn’t make sense...Moving forward, you’ll see the DC movie universe being a universe, but one that comes from the heart of the filmmaker who’s creating them."
Nelson went on to discuss how Wonder Woman certainly referenced the events of Batman v Superman, but operated as its own film. Johns, echoing this idea, explained further:
"The movie’s not about another movie, some of the movies do connect the characters together, like Justice League. But, like with Aquaman, our goal is not to connect Aquaman to every movie."
While this may all seem like semantics, it does appear DC is interesting in separating itself from a strict sense of continuity. Adding to this theory is the news from earlier today that Flashpoint will play with time so much, Iris West may not be from the present-day in the DCEU. With that film possibly altering the very essence of the DCEU, could we be seeing the birth of the cinematic multiverse?
The idea of loosely connected stories and multiple versions of popular characters is certainly easier to maintain than a strict shared universe. Still, it could lead to audience confusion. In the DCEU's favor is the notoriously wonky precedent set by Fox's X-Men universe: a franchise that has never met a timeline it didn't upend, yet has continued to thrive (in part, arguably, because of said lack of strict continuity).
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