How & Why The DCEU's Original Slate Changed So Much

The DCEU has changed shape dramatically since the first slate was announced in 2014. By 2011, Warner Bros. had come to the conclusion that a superhero shared universe was a surefire winner. It made sense; the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a blockbuster hit, and unlike Marvel, Warner Bros. still retained the film rights for all their most famous heroes. Warner Bros. execs were captivated by the idea of crossovers featuring big-name superheroes like Batman and Superman.

All eyes turned to Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds as the titular hero. It was an ambitious movie, with potential for a sequel and a cameo from Amanda Waller from Suicide Squad (later played by Angela Bassett). Unfortunately, Green Lantern proved to be a box office bomb, slated by critics for a checklist story and with unconvincing CGI. Warner's first attempt at a shared universe failed, and Green Lantern is nowadays only remembered as the film mocked in the after-credits of Deadpool 2. Even DC seemed amused at that, joining in with the fun on social media.

Related: The DCEU Is Dead, Long Live The DCEU

But another superhero film was already in the works: Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. And if Green Lantern was aiming for the moon, Man of Steel hoped to reach the stars. Warner Bros. pivoted, and Snyder's ideas for Man of Steel became the foundation of the DC Extended Universe. In 2014, Warner Bros. was ready to announce a full slate, long before Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was going to release and truly set the stage for the shared universe's future.

The DCEU's Original Slate

In 2014, Warner Bros. confirmed expected release dates for DCEU movies that ran all the way through to 2020. They initially didn't give titles for all of these, but many details were penciled in over the next two years; it was only later that the full slate was revealed, and here's what it looked like:

Related: Snyder's Justice League Trilogy Plan: What Kevin Smith Got Right (& Wrong)

At the heart of the DCEU was a five-film plan by Zack Snyder, which may have involved Man of Steel 2 but more likely ran through a rumored Justice League Part III. Snyder had a full arc plotted out, and it's easy to spot scenes that were intended as setup, such as the Knightmare sequence or the crosses at the end of the Doomsday battle. At first the signs were promising that Warner Bros. would pull this off; David Ayer signed up for Suicide Squad in September 2014, writing a script in just six weeks because the film already had a release date. But then things began to change.

What Changed On The DCEU's Slate

Justice League and Ben Affleck as Batman

That was the initial slate, and the first few DCEU movies all landed pretty much on schedule. But the popular and critical reception to Batman V Superman led Warner Bros. to reconsider Snyder's five-film arc, with Justice League becoming a standalone that resurrected Superman and wrapped up the story. The sequels appear to have been completely ditched, with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins recently saying she thinks there need to be a lot more solo films before DC tries a team-up movie again. She's probably right.

In 2015, Warner Bros. announced that Ben Affleck would write, direct, and star in The Batman, but he's gradually pulled back from the DCEU, with Matt Reeves taking over as writer and director; Warner Bros. is currently looking for a new Batman. Meanwhile, other Justice League spinoffs have found themselves delayed, with even Aquaman pushed back a little. The Flash and Cyborg are currently in development hell and don't even appear on the current slate. At the same time, though, the studio has pivoted to push a number of new entries; sequels to Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman, and a spinoff starring Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, in particular. Surprisingly, projects starring lesser-known heroes like Aquaman and Shazam have become a priority, even as the A-list superheroes dropped off Warner's radar.

Page 2 of 2: What Is The New DCEU Slate?

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Key Release Dates
  • Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
  • Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
  • Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
  • The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
  • The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
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