Warner Bros. officially launched the DC Extended Universe with Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 -- a follow-up to Snyder's Superman film, Man of Steel, in 2013 -- and they expanded upon their newly-formed universe with David Ayer's Suicide Squad later that year. In addition to bringing back Henry Cavill as Superman, Batman v Superman officially debuted Ben Affleck's Batman and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman (the latter of whom headlined an immensely successful solo film earlier this summer), as well as briefly introduced audiences to Ezra Miller's The Flash, Jason Momoa's Aquaman, and Ray Fisher's Cyborg -- six characters who make the founding members of the iconic superhero team: the Justice League.
All six heroes will unite for the first time ever in live-action this fall in Snyder's Justice League, to battle Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons, who seek to take back the three Mother Boxes that had been left behind during the New Gods' first war with Earth thousands of years before. It's an event that has been gestating for years, and something that fans have been anticipating for decades. But it's not the end. In fact, the upcoming Justice League movie only further develops the burgeoning DCEU that appears to have many years ahead of it...assuming everything goes according to plan.
Understandably, it can be difficult to keep up with all the news surrounding the various cinematic universes, so to make things simple, here's Everything You Need To Know About The Future Of The DCEU.
16 Officially Scheduled films
In 2014, Warner Bros. officially confirmed plans to develop the DC Extended Universe, and that meant scheduling their first slate of films through 2020. That confirmed schedule seems to be a very fluid thing, with additional installments being added to the slate seemingly every week, and other projects falling by the wayside. Here's what we know for sure: aside from Snyder's Justice League hitting theaters this November, the next DCEU movie on the docket is James Wan's Aquaman, releasing in December 2018. After that, well...
The next movie to shoot is David F. Sandberg's Shazam!, which is set to release in April 2019, though that outing still doesn't have a star in place despite the fact that pre-production is officially underway. Wonder Woman 2, meanwhile, is being prepped for December 2019. Patty Jenkins is currently in final negotiations to direct the sequel, which sources tell Screen Rant will take place in the '80s, during the Cold War. The solo Cyborg movie supposedly releases the following year, in April 2020, although there hasn't been much word on that one since star Ray Fisher confirmed it was still on track back in May. To cap it off, the Green Lantern Corps film (featuring both Hal Jordan and John Stewart) is being prepped for a July 2020 release.
And then things get really murky...
15 Other movies in development
In addition to the aforementioned scheduled DCEU films, Warner Bros. has several DC Comics-related projects in various stages of development, some of which have actors, directors, and screenwriters attached.
Perhaps the biggest movie among them is the solo Flash movie, now titled Flashpoint. It was originally scheduled to release in 2018, but the film suffered multiple setbacks and has now been removed from the official schedule. Following that is Matt Reeves' The Batman, with Ben Affleck expected to star (more on that later), as well as Suicide Squad 2 and David Ayer's Gotham City Sirens, which will feature the return of Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn.
Other movies not as far along in the process are Joss Whedon's Batgirl and Chris McKay's Nightwing, as well as Justice League Dark, Man of Steel 2, Justice League 2, Lobo, and the Black Adam movie featuring Dwayne Johnson. Many of these projects were officially confirmed to be on the way at this past SDCC in July, but none were given official release dates. And with DC constantly adding new releases to their schedule and pumping the brakes on other projects, there's no telling how many of these planned projects will actually make it to the big screen.
14 The Joker is going to be a focal point
In addition to the aforementioned movies, according to a recent wave of news, it turns out that Warner Bros. wants to also produce DC movies that exist outside the DCEU. Doing so would allow them to develop all sorts of stories and not have to worry about continuity hurtles. Since these films would still be comic book movies, they can attribute these stories to being part of the Multiverse but, what's more likely is that they will be the theatrical version of DC's Elseworlds stories.
According to recent reports, the first of these outings will be a Joker origin movie, directed by The Hangover's Todd Philips and produced by legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese. The story will supposedly be dark and realistic, while also portraying the iconic villain as a kid. Since this won't be part of the DCEU, Jared Leto presumably won't star in the movie, though he has already confirmed his return for future DCEU movies, such as the Joker & Harley Quinn spinoff (which is now set to be helmed by the directors of Crazy, Stupid Love) and possibly Suicide Squad 2.
13 Geoff Johns and Jon Berg co-run DC Films now
For years, each and every DC Comics movie was produced and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and while that's still the case, since Time Warner owns DC Entertainment, certain things have changed. The backlash Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice faced when it released in early 2016 sent shock-waves through the long-standing film studio that typically doesn't have separate movie divisions. They realized that a change needed to be made, with the studio employing genre-specific executives.
DC Comics chief creative officer Geoff Johns, who has been overseeing the publisher's Rebirth event, was promoted to president of DC Films in May 2016, and the executive now co-runs the newly-formed movie division along with Warner Bros. Pictures boss Jon Berg. The move was similar to Marvel Entertainment forming Marvel Studios and setting Kevin Feige as president, prior to launching the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
12 R-rated movies will most likely happen
Comic book movies have been rated-R before, but it wasn't until Tim Miller's Deadpool released in 2016, and then James Mangold's Logan in 2017, that fans and movie studios began to realize the potential for high-grossing, mature-themed superhero movies. Twentieth Century Fox isn't shying away from making additional R-rated movies, and although it's something that Marvel Studios has repeatedly said they're not interested in doing, R-rated DCEU movies may very well happen.
Warner Bros. chief Toby Emmerich once said that he would be surprised if they didn't make an R-rated DCEU movie down the line. In fact, they have already happened. The Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Cut was rated R, and Suicide Squad director David Ayer previously discussed making the sequel rated R as well. However, since he's no longer making that movie and is, instead, working on Gotham City Sirens, perhaps that will be the first R-rated DCEU movie to release theatrically.
11 TV shows will remain separate
The CW's colloquially-named Arrowverse -- consisting of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl, along with the animated web series Vixen and the NBC series Constantine -- has its own shared universe happening on the small screen, but entangling all those stories with Warner Bros.' DC Extended Universe isn't something the studio wants to do. So instead, both universes will remain separate, and that includes future TV shows as well.
For some time, it was rumored that David S. Goyer's upcoming Superman prequel series, Krypton, would be part of the DCEU, especially since it shares a similar aesthetic to Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, but that connection was recently refuted. Plus, Geoff Johns' upcoming Titans series, featuring the likes of Nightwing, Starfire, and Raven, also won't be part of the DCEU, despite airing on Warner Bros. TV's new digital service.
10 DCEU will form its own Batman Family universe (like in the comics)
The Batman Family contains some of the most iconic and well-known comic book characters in the history of the medium; all stemming from the Dark Knight himself. Batman and his allies, many of which have become superheroes in their own right, make up a significant portion of DC Comics' slate, and that's something that DC Films chief Geoff Johns wants to bring over to the DCEU.
The DC shared universe will eventually have a corner carved out for Batman and his supporting characters, and we have already seen that pocket universe begin to come together behind the scenes. In addition to Matt Reeves' The Batman, Joss Whedon is making Batgirl, Chris McKay is directing Nightwing, and David Ayer is helming the Gotham City Sirens spin-off (featuring Harley Quinn and presumably Poison Ivy and Catwoman).
9 Multiple releases per year
The initial plan was to have two movies release per year going forward, beginning with Batman v Superman in 2016. It was all going according to plan until the studio was forced to remove The Flash solo movie from their 2018 schedule after both Seth Grahame-Smith and Rick Famuyiwa exited the project last year due to creative differences. Now, the only movie releasing in 2018 is James Wan's Aquaman, with David F. Sandberg's Shazam! and Wonder Woman 2 coming in 2019.
The Cyborg and Green Lantern Corps movies are still on-track for release in 2020, but now it appears that there will be more than two DCEU movies hitting theaters that year. A recent rumor suggested that Warner Bros. may release up to four DC movies per year, and since they carved out two additional 2020 dates for untitled/unannounced DCEU movies (totaling four films in 2020), it seems like that rumor may actually be true.
8 Future movies will be defined by "heart, humor, and heroics"
More than a few complaints regarding the burgeoning DC Extended Universe have revolved around the movies' tones, dull storylines, and their lack of hope and optimism. Some have said that the DCEU's Superman doesn't embody the same hope and inspiration that Christopher Reeve or other Supermen have before. That's something that can be argued, along with several other grievances people have with the DCEU, but going forward, Geoff Johns wants to make sure that everyone has faith in their characters.
Last year, when Johns was promoted to DC Flims president, he said that he wants to bring hope and optimism to the DCEU, and then earlier this year, he mentioned that all of their movies (presumably referring to future DCEU movies) have "heart, humor, and heroics." Judging by the reactions to Wonder Woman, and the buzz surrounding Justice League, it certainly sounds like Johns and the rest of the DC Films creatives are following up on those words.
7 Every movie takes place after the events of the previous film
So far, the DCEU hasn't had a traditional sequel release, and it won't until Wonder Woman 2 hits theaters in 2019. Instead, each installment has been somewhat of a continuation/off-shoot of a previous installment. The events of Batman v Superman was a direct result of Superman's fight with General Zod in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, and the U.S. government's formation of Task Force X in David Ayer's Suicide Squad was a result of Supes sacrificing himself in Batman v Superman.
Now, Snyder's Justice League will also be a result of the events of Batman v Superman, with the New Gods invading Earth since "the god is dead," meaning there are no more "protectors." Going forward, each movie will take place after (and perhaps be a result of) previous installments. Furthermore, future movies may have flashbacks and flash-forwards, similar to how the Wonder Woman movie started out in the present-day but its entire story was told through a flashback.
6 Warner Bros. will decide their upcoming slate after Justice League
As previously mentioned, Warner Bros. has several DCEU movies in various stages of development, many of which currently don't have planned release dates. Furthermore, development has been rather slow-going on some of the bigger titles, and with little information regarding several upcoming films, such as Cyborg and Green Lantern Corps, many fans are wondering what the studio's future slate will definitively look like.
DC Films boss Geoff Johns recently said that they will announce their slate when they're good and ready, and a recent report suggested that they will do so only after Zack Snyder's Justice League hits theaters this fall. It's certainly conceivable that the studio may want to alter their lineup after seeing how well Justice League performs, as well as which characters will draw the most crowds.
5 DC & Marvel won't cross over
Intercompany crossovers are rare, but they aren't entirely unheard of. Over the years, DC Comics and Marvel Comics have crossed over their respective universes with titles such as Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man, Batman/Daredevil: King of New York, and more. Of course, what comic book fans really want to see is a live-action version of JLA/Avengers. Unfortunately, that's something that likely will never happen.
DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio recently mentioned that DC/Marvel crossovers simply aren't in the cards for them, merely because they are competitors. DiDio was talking about DC Comics when he said crossovers will never happen, but we can easily apply his comments to the DCEU as well. After all, having the Avengers go up against the Justice League sounds great in theory (and on paper), but it may not translate well onto the big screen, at least not for the respective companies.
4 Character-driven tones; movies don't need to be dark and gritty
So far, most modern DC Comics movies, including Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy, have featured dark and gritty tones, two words that have come to define modern superhero reboots. The thing is, that's not how every DCEU movie should be, nor will be, going forward. Wonder Woman was considerably different than its DCEU predecessors, and that's how it will be for future installments.
Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins previously said that Warner Bros. doesn't have a mandate for directors to follow. Moreover, their DCEU movies will have character-driven tones. For instance, David F. Sandberg's upcoming Shazam! movie will be the shared universe's most lighthearted movie yet, and those who are familiar with the character Billy Batson, aka Shazam, know that the movie needs be funnier in order to do the character justice.
3 Ben Affleck has every intention of continuing on as Batman
Ben Affleck was originally tapped to write and direct, as well as star in, The Batman solo movie. Unfortunately, he opted out of directing the upcoming DCEU film earlier this year, citing difficulties with giving his best possible performance as the Caped Crusader while also shepherding the film behind-the-scenes. Cloverfield and Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves has since stepped in as director, and he's currently hard at work on a new script for the movie.
Although Affleck has repeatedly stated his intention to return for another DCEU outing (if Warner Bros. will have him), rumors and reports (some from legitimate trade publications) continually suggest that the studio is looking for a way for the actor to exit the newly-formed shared universe. Interestingly, since Affleck is only contracted for one more film (after Justice League), and since Reeves wants to make his own Batman trilogy, it's possible that this topic keeps coming up as a result of ongoing contract renegotiations.
2 Joss Whedon is a 'big part' of the DCEU
It's no secret that Joss Whedon took up helming the additional reshoots for Justice League after Zack Snyder departed the project due to a personal tragedy. Although Snyder ordered the reshoots/new footage himself, and though Whedon was brought on to finish Snyder's vision for the film, the former Marvel director will be a big part of the DC universe going forward.
In fact, according to Warner Bros. Pictures chief and DC Films co-president Jon Berg, Whedon was already a big part of the DCEU before he took up responsibility of finishing up Justice League's post-production. Plus, Whedon has been hired to direct the solo Batgirl movie, so it's possible that Warner Bros. and DC Films would want the filmmaker to establish himself in something of a godfather-type role, helping shepherd the DCEU like he did with Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
1 Future DC movies will be "fun"
Common complaints associated with the first slate of DCEU movies -- aside from editing issues -- have been their tone and, well, lack of "fun." Of course, tonal issues and plot choices are entirely subjective, but Warner Bros. shouldn't be faulted for wanting their films to reach as big of an audience as possible, which is why they will strive to make their future movies more fun.
Several people involved with the DCEU, including writer Will Beale and Aquaman director James Wan, have specifically said future DCEU movies will be "fun," and people have already begun to see those lighter tones in Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman as well as in more recent trailers for Zack Snyder's Justice League. But that doesn't mean each movie will be lighthearted; each story will be determined based on the characters involved.
Are you excited by the changes the DCEU is undergoing? Let us know in the comments.