Three years after Warner Bros. and DC rebooted their movie universe with 2013's Man of Steel, what is now known as the DCEU will expand in a big way this year with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in March and the supervillain team-up film Suicide Squad in August. If the box office projections are accurate, Batman V Superman could be poised to set a new opening weekend record and propel the DC movie continuity brand into the stratosphere.
The supervillain ensemble Suicide Squad has steadily become one of the studio's most anticipated releases as well -- something relatively few would have predicted when the project was announced -- and will provide our heroes with their counterparts, which include the Joker (Jared Leto), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), and Deadshot (Will Smith).
According to a report by Variety (via Batman News), this all-at-once approach seems to be paying off, at least when it comes to engaging with audience awareness. Variety is partnered with Listen First Media to publish Digital Audience Ratings (DAR) -- Film, a measure of which properties are currently trending the most across the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, YouTube and including Wikipedia). For the week of January 20, 2016 to January 26, 2016 the DC movies Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad are trending 500 percent stronger than the others, "based on standing at the same point pre-release."
Given the endlessly malleable nature of social media metrics and presence, fans should look beyond these measurements. In the short term, however, it certainly seems that DC/Warners has managed to place their brand into the spotlight. It needs to be noted that these metrics from ListenFirst and Variety "represent the 7-day (Wednesday – Tuesday) sum total of DAR for all US Domestic Films that have been publicly announced and slated for a commercial theatrical release." This means that these findings are for just one week of social media activity, and as new trailers, information, set photos and TV spots for the various releases to come, this will likely change.
At this point, there is very little that remains to be explored when it comes to the differences between DC/Warner's shared universe franchise strategy and that of Marvel's. On a larger level, the Marvel vs. DC is a futile exercise, but the ways the two entertainment powerhouses have approached their inter-connected films is famously very different: rather than release one solo movie at a time before a big team-up event, DC and Warners will hit the ground running, introducing Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) alongside their new Superman (Henry Cavill).
Given that Fox and Marvel's Deadpool will actually release before Batman V Superman, expect the social media landscape to upend as the R-rated superhero action-comedy dominates the discussion for its opening weekend.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman – June 23rd, 2017; Justice League – November 17th, 2017; The Flash – March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman – July 27th, 2018; Shazam – April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 – June 14th, 2019; Cyborg – April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern – June 19th, 2020.