Warner Bros.' unofficially titled DC Extended Universe is undergoing somewhat of a soft reboot in 2019, with Shazam! and Joker paving the way for a new future of DC Comics movies on the big screen. But first, James Wan's Aquaman will release in December and become the sixth and finally DC movie from the Zack Snyder-era.
Although Warner Bros. has struggled, critically and narratively, to properly get their shared universe off the ground as they played catch-up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the studio has seen quite a bit of financial success. But 2019 is a major indication of their new approach - particularly with DC Films now under new leadership - which is to diversify their content and actively move away from the one shared universe goal, rather than simply trying to mimic it.
Warner Bros. and DC Films have a few bold, exciting, and very different projects on the slate for 2019, the details of which (and the details of what they aren't doing, too) show just how they're trying to press the reset button on the DCEU.
- This Page: Aquaman & More Tonal Diversity
- Next Page: Joker's Elseworlds Beginning & No Justice League Characters
Aquaman Is The Last Project In Major Development Before Justice League
With the sequel to Man of Steel becoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, plans were firmly in place for WB to build out from there, in a sort of reverse MCU: first would come Justice League, followed by solo movies for the various members of the team, including Aquaman, Batman, The Flash, and Cyborg, with the decision made to release Wonder Woman just ahead of the team-up. Wonder Woman was a huge success, but the critical and commercial failure of Justice League has seen most of the other movies enter an almost constant state of flux as WB has made a number of attempts to course correct and change the tone (and quality) of its DC movie universe.
The Flash has lost two directors - first Seth Grahame-Smith and then Rick Fumuyiwa - with Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley currently set to direct. The Batman, meanwhile, lost Ben Affleck as a writer and director, and almost certainly as a star as well, and no one really seems sure if or when Cyborg will happen. Other plans have been shelved too, including a true Man of Steel sequel for Henry Cavill’s Superman, and Justice League 2, meaning that Wan’s Aquaman, which hits theaters next month, is the last project that was in major, concrete development prior to Justice League’s release and the only one currently still sticking to that original plan.
Shazam! Introduces More Tonal Diversity
The first DC movie of 2019 will be Shazam!, starring Zachary Levi in the titular role and directed by David F. Sandberg. Thanks to some DC references in the trailer for the movie, and comments from the crew, it's clear that Shazam! does exist in the same universe as the previous DC movies - and yet, judging from that same trailer, it might as well exist in a whole new world.
The story of Billy Batson becoming the superhero Shazam looks like a truly lighthearted affair; the emphasis is on humor, lightness, and having a whole lot of a fun, which is a stark (and deliberate) contrast to what hasn’t typically been the modus operandi the DCEU thus far. It’s playful, zany, and self-referential, and it introduces genuine tonal diversity to the universe. That’s something the higher-ups at WB have been talking about doing for some time, especially after the criticisms of Batman v Superman, but Shazam! is going to be the first film to follow through on that promise of change.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020