With Marvel Studios' plans after 2019 unclear, there is a good chance that their distinguished competitors at DC Films could be outproducing them by 2020. This is due to a variety of factors, with the chief ones being uncertainty as to the future direction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Films no longer needing to fit all their movies into a single shared reality.
The coming year will see both studios releasing three new superhero movies each. Marvel Studios has an established goal of making three new movies every year and has met this goal every year since 2017. DC Films will match them for the first time in 2019 - an accomplishment entirely due to Warner Bros. recent decision to start releasing movies set outside of the shared reality commonly called the DC Extended Universe. That means, along with Shazam! and Wonder Woman 1984, there's the standalone Joker, an Elseworlds story outside of the universe started with Man of Steel.
Going forward, things look to be continuing as normal for Marvel. Very little has been revealed about what Marvel Studios has planned after Avengers 4, with no movies confirmed beyond Spider-Man: Far From Home and changes likely afoot due to the delays on Guardians of the Galaxy 3 in the wake of James Gunn's firing. Black Widow and a sequel to Doctor Strange are in the works, but will have to enter production fairly soon in order to make a 2020 release date. Despite these difficulties, Marvel Studios isn't expected to have any trouble making their three-picture quota.
By contrast, DC Films has multiple movies in various stages of pre-production that are scheduled to start shooting in 2019 with a likely release in 2020:Birds of Prey, The Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern Corps and more are all in the running. In addition to being unhobbled by their need to adhere to a single continuity, DC Films has also been blessed by Warner Bros. decision to allow for more low-budget productions. While this seems like an odd thing to count as a benefit in these days of superhero blockbusters, there are two chief benefits apart from lower budgets allowing for more films overall - less competition for the all-important summer release dates and less pressure on the filmmakers to recoup the studio's investment.
The upcoming Birds of Prey movie is a prime example of how DC Films' new approach could enable them to overtake Marvel Studios in output. The movie has already been confirmed as having a smaller budget than previous DC Films and star/producer Margot Robbie has announced her openness to casting diverse, up-and-coming actors like Francesa Ruscio and Andi Mack in the lead roles. This will further save the studio money, as they won't have to pay the millions of dollars a big-name actor would demand or work around complicated schedules, which has become a problem for Suicide Squad 2 because of Will Smith's high demand. The fact that Joker's budget is reported only $55 million and will shoot and be released in theaters barely a year later also shows the fast turnaround these smaller films can see.
This is something that Marvel both would be unlikely to chase, and also can't. As a big part of the Disney machine, every MCU movie releases with considerations for Star Wars, Disney animation, Pixar, their live-action remakes, other original properties and whatever the Fox deal brings. Increasing to four may be infeasible. Warner Bros. brand ecosystem isn't as tight, offering more release spots.
Ironically, what has been traditionally seen as DC Films greatest weakness in the past could prove to be their greatest strength in the new environment. Freed from the need to make all of their films conform to a single shared universe, DC Films can utilize their existing catalog of characters with greater variety. This, in turn, could help to attract more auteur filmmakers who wish to have more creative control over their projects and big-name actors who are uninterested in becoming tied down to a multi-film franchise. Time will tell the tale, but comic fans can be sure of a lot more movies from both DC Films and Marvel Studios as time goes by.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019