The answer to the issues plaguing the DCEU just might be to finally remove the films directed by Zack Snyder from continuity. As extreme as that sounds - after all, the DC Extended Universe was born from Snyder's Man of Steel - severing the upcoming slate of DC films from the SnyderVerse is the cleanest way to 'save' the DCEU and its future. There are reports that the studio is looking to "reset" the DCEU; Warners recognizes that "some parts of the previous movies didn't work" - which is a response to the criticism Snyder's films have garnered. Therefore, a reset should actually go all the way and completely separate future DC films from the continuity of Zack Snyder's films, as well as Suicide Squad, but with a twist: by fully establishing the Multiverse.
The DCEU has to escape its past. It was forged from Zack Snyder's Man of Steel and Batman V Superman while David Ayers' Suicide Squad spins out from the events of BvS. All three films did well at the box office but both Batman v Superman and Man of Steel fell short of WB's expectations. In an attempt to adjust for audience reactions, Warner Bros. turned what should have been the DCEU's surefire crowning glory, Justice League, into an epic failure creatively, critically, and with audiences. It's the biggest disappointment and the lowest grossing DCEU film. While all of those movies certainly have fans and supporters, they also come with a huge amount of baggage preventing the DCEU from cleanly moving forward in the post-Snyder era. All future DCEU movies now have to work to change course from what was originally laid out.
The apparent exit of Henry Cavill as Superman is due to the studio having no plans for more Superman movies in the near future. Meanwhile, the status of Ben Affleck as Batman is a huge question mark. Regardless of what happens with Affleck, Matt Reeves' The Batman, which is still in development, is about a young Dark Knight and it's not clear if and how Affleck would participate. However, the loss of these two stars actually creates a new opportunity for Warners to move forward with the DCEU without Batman and Superman - the two icons most heavily identified with Zack Snyder's films - at its center.
Unless they cut the cord, the DCEU's future will still be plagued by the canon of Snyder's films. Justice League may have 'rebooted' Superman, but fans will always remember Cavill's Man of Steel snapping General Zod's neck, Affleck's Batman ruthlessly killing and branding thugs, unresolved plot holes like Batman's Knightmare, and everything else that surrounded and defined Snyder's vision. But instead of merely ignoring his films or pretending those movies 'didn't happen' (which would anger the fans who do love those movies), they can create a new canon via a 'New DCEU'. And this means making the DCEU movies a Multivers! Joaquin Phoenix's Joker movie has already put the Multiverse concept in motion, but here's how playing into the rules of the Multiverse can fix the DCEU and give it a clean slate:
- This Page: A DCEU Movie Multiverse And How It Affects Wonder Woman
- Page 2: How A New DECU Movie Universe Can Unite With The Snyder Verse
The Snyder Movies' Canon Can Be Set On A Different Earth
Warner Bros. should set Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League aside as their own canon and consider all of the future DCEU movies as happening on a different Earth. DC fans are already familiar with the concept of the Multiverse, and the Arrowverse on The CW uses it with no issues from fans who 'get' it. A movie reset like this isn't unprecedented; the X-Men films attempted their own version of a reset after X-Men: Days of Future Past wiped X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine from continuity. The New DCEU would be more ambitious, however, and could work better than what X-Men did.
By firmly placing Snyder's films in their own universe, it would create the benefit of freeing up all future DCEU films with a necessary clean slate and let them move past the hangups audiences have with Snyder's films. Aspects that were controversial, unpopular, or burdensome simply get waved away and the New DCEU gets the chance to move forward in ways it couldn't if it remainsed tethered to the universe Snyder built.
It would be tricky, no doubt, to explain the Multiverse to general audiences, but WB wouldn't necessarily have to... at first. The studio wouldn't even need to make any type of public statement or explanation; they can simply proceed with their current plans while subtly establishing in each forthcoming film that all of it is happening in a different universe, both by their general tone and by not referencing the Snyder films at all. Later on, The Flash movie can shock fans (especially those who are fans of Zack Snyder's films) by being the bridge that reveals the Snyder Verse did happen but it all happened somewhere else!
Here's how it all could work, starting with Wonder Woman...
Wonder Woman Becomes The Heart of the 'New DCEU'
Wonder Woman is the DCEU's only film that was both a box office smash and highly regarded by audiences. With Cavill's Superman on the outs and Affleck's Batman uncertain, Gal Gadot's Diana Prince is now the top property in the DCEU. Since Wonder Woman is both the most popular and most profitable movie (it's the highest grossing DCEU movie in North America, though Batman V Superman grossed the most worldwide), she is the ideal character to be the centerpiece of the New DCEU.
The beauty of Wonder Woman and her sequel is that it's relatively easy to separate them both from the continuity of Zack Snyder's films. Yes, she made her on-screen debut in Batman V Superman and she was in Justice League, but under the Multiverse concept, those 'modern day' events happened on a different Earth. Both of her solo films are set in the past and can thus be considered separate - they happened on the 'new' Earth. This eliminates the lingering plot hole where Diana is said to have not been active for nearly a century before she donned her armor in BvS, which is being contradicted by her solo films.
The first Wonder Woman film would forge the history of the 'New DCEU.' It establishes the Greek gods, Diana being active in World War I (traits both Earths can share), but diverges with Wonder Woman 1984, which depicts her adventures in the Me Decade. This then creates a great hook for Wonder Woman 3: how will she debut in 'the present day'? (After all, the events fans saw in BvS and Justice League didn't happen on this Earth).
The lone detail that creates an issue is the famous photograph of Diana, Steve Trevor, and their allies in 1918. She receives this from Bruce Wayne in the modern day scene in Wonder Woman, but it can later be explained and recontextualized that she got it from a different Bruce Wayne, i.e. whoever plays the role in Matt Reeves' film. (Luckily, Ben Affleck didn't appear in Wonder Woman.) Under the Multiverse plan, Wonder Woman essentially becomes the 'heart' of the New DCEU, and it's a fitting position to place her.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020