In 2016, comic book fans will finally be treated to a shared DC cinematic universe - dubbed by Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder as the DC Expanded Universe - that will bring the members of the Justice League together on the big screen. Warner Bros. has a slate of 12+ films planned (including currently undated Superman and Batman solo films) between now and 2020. Some read this as an overly ambitious attempt to "catch up" to Marvel Studios, while others are excited about the possibilities.
In a stark contrast from Marvel, WB is focusing on big team-up films like Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad before producing standalone vehicles for the various heroes of their world. As moviegoers try to piece together the overlying structure of the franchise, Batman V Superman producer Charles Roven offers a look at their game plan for developing the DCEU.
Speaking with Collider, Roven discussed how the studio is building the DCEU and their intention to have the characters evolve leading up to 2019's Justice League Part Two.
"... We’ve got this sandbox of the Justice League DC characters, and we are hoping to create—this series of movies that we’ve announced are somewhat interlinked. The characters move at a throughline that hopefully will take us all the way to Justice League 2, but they also can interact in the other films as well in some way.
“So if, for example, The Flash movie or the Aquaman film is gonna come out after Justice League 1, it’s not gonna be a completely different character; that character will have evolved from Justice League 1. Wonder Woman, when we see her in Justice League 1, will have evolved from Batman v Superman. Unless we decide that in one of these stories we’re gonna do something that happened in the past and have it be more of an origination story, in which case you’ll realize how that character became what they were in the movie that they were first introduced.”
Since all of the movies are going to fall under the same umbrella, it makes sense that they will be "somewhat interlinked." How they're all connected to each other remains to be seen, but we are entering an age where crossover events are becoming the new industry norm. It wouldn't be surprising if the DC standalone films went beyond being basic solo outings and incorporated multiple heroes into the proceedings - particularly after the seven are united in the first Justice League and form strong bonds.
The point regarding the heroes evolving between installments doesn't sound too far off from the Marvel format; the Tony Stark seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron is certainly a changed man from the one in the first Iron Man. Having the characters develop throughout their appearances should help each movie stand on its own and feel fresh. It will also be a nice way to illustrate the connective tissue of the franchise as a whole, since even if they are more "filmmaker driven," they'll have to incorporate the events of the previous films.
One interesting bit from Roven's quote is the part about the chances they work on an origin story for one of the characters. It's rumored that 2017's solo Wonder Woman film will feature multiple time periods, partly taking place prior to Batman V Superman for its modern-day segments. Roven doesn't confirm that's the case here, but the fact he's openly mentioning it means it's a distinct possibility. Whatever the case may be, WB seems to have a good idea of what they want to accomplish.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 23, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern on June 19, 2020. The Superman and Batman solo films have release dates TBD.