The comedic filmmaking duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller have quickly ascended to the ranks of Hollywood's A-list after the success of their Jump Street films and The LEGO Movie. With no shortage of projects available to them, they've decided to get heavily involved in the ever-expanding superhero movie pool - signing on with both DC and Marvel. They will be writing the former's solo Flash movie and producing an animated Spider-Man film for the latter.
As the two have carved out a unique voice with their self-referential brand of comedy that often pokes fun at industry conventions, many viewers have been curious to learn more about the tone of their upcoming films and how they'll gel with your typical superhero fare. According to Lord, both are going to operate as a standalone film and be "off a little bit to the side."
While on the Hippojuice podcast (hat tip to /Film), Lord dished out some details on his upcoming adaptations. First up was The Flash, which already has Ezra Miller set to star and will be part of Warner Bros.' blossoming DC Movie Universe:
"We’re trying to break a story. It’s interesting, because there’s a really popular TV show out there, and we’re trying to carve out space for the movie that’s apart from that. I think we’re doing alright... I believe [our Flash] is going to be Barry Allen... It’s going to be it’s own [thing, apart from the TV show] — we’re more trying to stick with the cinematic universe… it really is its own thing, and kind of a stand-alone movie. We’re just trying to think of the best story. I think you guys will like it, it’s kind of a different take on superhero stuff."
Because DC's TV and movie universes won't connect, there is clearly pressure on Lord and Miller to differentiate their film from the CW series. Some have gone as far as suggesting Grant Gustin should have brought DC's famous speedster to the big screen (including Arrow star Stephen Amell), so the two writers have their work cut out for them, making their version stand on its own merits and escape the shadow of the TV series.
The other noteworthy bit of the quote is Lord's claim that The Flash is something of "a standalone movie" despite it being part of a larger, interconnected franchise. However, it's worth noting that WB's shared DC film universe is seemingly being constructed differently than, say, Marvel Studios' Cinematic Universe - hence, creative teams on the DC adaptations are being allowed extra leeway to put their own stamp on their projects.
Switching gears to the animated Spider-Man movie, Lord said that it's a film that opens up "a lot of different possibilities" due to its format. Not only that, but this specific movie will NOT be a part of Marvel's cinematic universe (set to introduce a new live-action Spider-Man). That means more creative freedom, and the idea of letting the duo's imagination run wild (on both movies) has clearly raised Lord's hopes:
"Chris and I like to carve out spaces where people will let us do what we want. So much of our careers are like 'oh, no one will bother us while we try to make a '21 Jump Street' movie, because it’s such a crazy idea, no one’s going to know what to do with it.' So we’re doing these things kind of like that. They’re part of these huge franchises, but kind of are off a little bit to the side, and that gives us a lot of creative freedom, and that’s the thing we love. Hopefully we won’t waste that!"
One can see how the animated Spider-Man movie would be full of that "creative freedom" since it needn't adhere to the #ItsAllConnected movement. It's also a good time for Lord to pitch an extremely familiar story told "in a new way" and with decades of comic mythology to look to for inspiration, the sky really is the limit.
Time will tell just how standalone The Flash movie will be; it's a solo vehicle for Barry Allen and must tell its own story, but how its potentially lighter tone ties into what came before and what's still on the way could prove telling for the DCMU as a whole. The pressures placed by Marvel on creators like Joss Whedon and Edgar Wright are well-documented, so many a moviegoer will be watching The Flash's development with a watchful eye.
The studio has made a name for itself delivering "dark and gritty" superhero films, so how Lord and Miller's aesthetic lines up with the overarching franchise will help separate rumor and assumptions from WB's real plan for the future. And if any DC hero is best served by a more comedic tale, it's Barry Allen.
The Flash will be in theaters March 23, 2018. We'll keep you posted on the animated Spider-Man movie.