"What on Earth is DC doing?" That's been the ultimate question in film circles recently, particularly in the last week but really for months if not years. Ever since it became clear Man of Steel - a film that remains incredibly standalone in its vision of a proto-Superman - was going to be the jumping off point for DC's massive shared universe in the wake of Marvel's immense success with The Avengers, there's been confusion and skepticism in equal measure.
A franchise in flux is really the best way to put it. A slate announced in late-2014 set a game plan through to 2020 that by now is pretty much in tatters (in contrast, Marvel's comparable version unveiled around a similar time doesn't look all that different) and so many movies are announced, reported or speculated on that it's nigh on impossible to keep up; The Batman has a solid two years of chatter and we're unlikely to see it before the decade's out. What are DC actually doing?
Well, in the light of all the recent rumors, let's break down the exact truth and, from that, try and see how the series is diversifying and fracturing off in many different directions.
Movies Officially Confirmed By DC
We're going to start by laying out the basic facts, primarily distinguishing between movies that have been - through one way or another - officially confirmed and slated (albeit in many cases without firm dates) by Warner Bros. from those in early stages of development.
There are just three movies will set release dates: Justice League on November 16, 2017, followed by Aquaman on December 21, 2017 and Wonder Woman 2 on December 13, 2019. All other films that once had set weekends have since been moved to undetermined slots or dropped from the slate entirely. However, two more dates are set in 2020 - February 14 and June 5 - but we don't which movies will take these.
Besides this trio, from Warners' own SDCC panel we know there are seven more movies that they are openly working on: Suicide Squad 2, The Batman, Shazam!, Justice League Dark, Flashpoint, Green Lantern Corps, and Batgirl (this flurry was also where Wonder Woman 2 was confirmed).
Out of these, the only movie with semi-firm dating is Shazam! The film, which is notable for being a Warners/New Line co-production, will be directed by David F. Sandberg, start production next year and is expected to arrive in 2019. That latter point has led some to think the film will get the April 5 date it was originally given in DC's massive (but now defunct) slate announcement, although that's not actually been clarified.
Several of the other movies have repeatedly come up in reports as priorities for the studio and thus candidates for those 2020 dates. Most recently Suicide Squad 2 (which is presently searching for a director) but also Justice League Dark and Batgirl, whose start date depends on director Joss Whedon's turnaround from reshoots on Justice League. The Batman is another likely prio, although despite being heavily covered we don't know how far along it actually is - Matt Reeves didn't start active prep until finishing on last month's War for the Planet of the Apes.
Flashpoint is a little more complicated. The Flash movie was originally looking likely for 2018 but since lost several directors and has been through a handful of rewrites, to the point we don't know how much of the initial idea remains; it's thus now of unknown potential and date, something further muddied by its canon-altering plot. Rounding things off, Green Lantern Corps. was once set for July 24, 2020, but like Shazam! and The Flash that has presumably changed - any reporting of such a date is a holdover from old stories.
And so we have three movies with set dates, one in the latter part of each coming year, then seven movies in active confirmed development. Everything else? Well, that's more complicated.
Unconfirmed Movies In Various Stages of Development
Now, there are several movies that get talked about a lot that aren't in the previous list, plainly because they haven't been announced. Briefly, Cyborg was originally slated for 2020 but seems to have slid down in priority and doesn't hold that anymore; Man of Steel 2 reportedly has a script and is circling Matthew Vaughn, but there's been no explicit confirmation; Black Adam now exists separate of Shazam! and it's frankly unclear how Dwayne Johnson now factors into the franchise anymore; and while Chris McKay's Nightwing made a splash earlier this year, it's still early days. All of these movies are in some stage of development but not part of the company's outwardly official plans.
And then there's the Joker. The past week's brought reports regarding four movies linked to the Clown Prince of Crime; as well as the aforementioned and confirmed Suicide Squad 2, there was the reaffirmation of a Harley/Joker film (now with Crazy, Stupid, Love's directors attached) that's apparently different to David Ayer's long-mooted Gotham City Sirens, as well as a Martin Scorsese-produced Joker origin story. That last one, crucially, is the one film said to not be in the DCEU continuity but part of a new, separate banner. It appears all of these are being talked about, although it really needs re-stating that none are official yet; Ayer himself said Sirens isn't greenlit, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are just in talks for Harley/Joker, and the Scorsese project is in "early stages".
In short, we have seven movies that are part of the DC discussion yet in a very primordial state and so are even harder to define than the likes of Green Lantern.
All caught up? Good. Because from all this we can finally begin to see how DC's future looks.
- Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Wonder Woman 2 (2019) release date: Nov 01, 2019