UPDATE: As pointed out on Twitter, the Warner Bros. panel also included a "Welcome to the Worlds of DC" banner at last year's Comic-Con - so this label isn't new. However, it is the closest thing we have to an official name for the DC Films franchise. Original article follows.
Warner Bros.' Hall H panel at Comic-Con 2018 introduced its DC Films segment with the message "Welcome to the Worlds of DC," indicating that the DC movie franchises have now been officially branded "Worlds of DC," replacing the unofficial name "DC Extended Universe."
Marvel Studios pioneered the modern shared cinematic universe model with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but while Warner Bros.' collection of interlinked DC movies are generally referred to as the DC Extended Universe (or DCEU), the studio has never used that name. DC Films also appears to be moving away from keeping everything in the same shared universe; there's currently a standalone Joker movie in development starring Joaquin Phoenix (not Suicide Squad's Jared Leto) that appears to be entirely separate from the canon of Justice League and Batman V Superman.
The Warner Bros. panel included the first trailer for Shazam!, which looks to be the lightest and most comedic DCEU/Worlds of DC movie so far. Asher Angel plays troubled foster kid Billy Batson, who is granted the power to transform into a grown-up superhero (played by Zachary Levi) when he says the magic word "Shazam!" The panel also included footage from the upcoming sequel Wonder Woman 1984, and the first trailer for Aquaman.
Following Christopher Nolan's critically-acclaimed and fan-beloved Dark Knight trilogy, Warner Bros. decided to reboot the DC movie properties as part of a single shared universe. Director Zack Snyder was the early architect of that universe, introducing Henry Cavill's Superman in Man of Steel and Ben Affleck's Batman/Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Although Snyder is still attached as a producer to Wonder Woman 1984, and has executive producer credit on Aquaman, he has been distanced from DC movies since he departed Justice League at the end of principal photography, with The Avengers director Joss Whedon stepping in to finish the movie.
"Worlds of DC" brings to mind a cinematic multiverse rather than a single universe, which would give DC Films the freedom to bring together major heroes like the members of the Justice League, but also the flexibility to keep them from having to worry about continuity of canon and tone in, for example, Michael Bay's in-development Lobo movie. It means that Warner Bros. can have traditional PG-13 blockbusters aimed at kids, but also R-rated movies for adult audiences (like Fox's Deadpool and Logan). Even if you're not a fan of the name, DC thinking in terms of "Worlds" rather than a single world could be a change for the better.
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- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020