The DCEU has had a rough ride. It started out with big aspirations of following up Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy. It also aimed at competing with the unbelievably successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. After six years of mixed movies, a history of troubled production, and ultimately a failed team up movie, it's safe to say that the DCEU has failed in its mission.
Movies like Aquaman and Wonder Woman may have been successes, but most of their other films have been almost universally panned. The universe was originally created by Zack Snyder after his successes adapting 300 and Watchmen. The first film in the extended franchise, Man of Steel, hit controversy over its massive violence and the decision to have Superman snap Zod's neck in the end. The franchise pivoted from that to a Batman v. Superman movie instead of a Man of Steel sequel. This movie was supposed to right the ship and properly launch the universe only for it to be more critically panned than the first one. Unfortunately, this happened in the middle of production for Suicide Squad and Justice League. Both movies were massively changed despite the fact that much of these movies were completed already. The end results for these films were disjointed and messy. This has led to the entire concept all but getting abandoned in favor of a series of solo ventures like Aquaman and Shazam!
Still, it's fun to go back over the highs and lows of the extended franchise, see what was abandoned and speculate over what might have been. Good or bad, you can't deny that the DCEU was one wild ride. Here are 20 DCEU Storylines That Were Completely Abandoned.
One of the biggest "Huh?" moments in Batman v. Superman was the point about midway through the film where the Flash bursts into the batcave through a time tunnel to warn him about Superman. Evidently he ran too far into the past and failed to accomplish whatever mission he was trying to. If that mission was to stop the Justice League sequels, then he definitely succeeded.
This moment was obviously a reference to one of the planned sequels to Zack Snyder's Justice League. The moment was critically panned as having nothing to do with the plot of the film and is often referenced as one of its many weak spots. Whatever it was about, we'll never get to see what he was talking about as the entire Snyder Justice League plan was completely scrapped mid production. (No, this is not the time to start chanting for the Snyder cut. There's no Snyder cut. Let it goooo.)
18 The Knightmare
One of the most confusing aspects of the Batman v. Superman trailers was the scene where Batman was in some kind of Mad Max style future with a long trench coat and goggles. Fans speculated all over the internet about it and were looking forward to finding out just what in the world was going on with the Dark Knight.
It seems like they'll always be waiting.
Whatever was happening in the Knightmare will never be truly revealed. It's likely that this is the future that the Flash was coming back from. From what we've seen, it looks like a combination of the plot from Injustice: Gods Among Us where a vengeful Superman takes over the Earth and the Superman: The Animated Series finale where Superman is an agent working for Darkseid. It's very unlikely that any of that will come to pass in the future though.
17 Pretty Much Anything With Jared Leto
When Jared Leto was cast as the Joker, replacing Oscar winner Heath Ledger, fans across the internet responded with "Why Jared Leto?" Then when the film actually released, all those same fans continued to ask "Why Jared Leto?"
His tattooed turn as the Joker is widely regarded as the worst version of the character to appear onscreen. What's worse is that his off screen behavior on set was supposedly disgusting. He sent things like rats to costars while diving headfirst into a character that barely appeared in the film.
Warner Bros. still had faith in him though, at least for a while. There were several films lined up to feature Leto in the role, but all of those have been scrapped in favor of a Joaquin Phoenix Joker film instead.
16 The Demise Of Jason Todd
One of the interesting teases in Batman v. Superman was the shot of the Jason Todd Robin's suit spray painted by the Joker. This is clearly a reference to the fact that Joker took Jason Todd's life in the comics. This Jason Todd looked very different though. For one, he seemed to carry an axe of some kind.
This seemed like one of the plot lines they might use for one of the Batman films that were in production. Many fans were hoping there would be a film that followed the Under The Red Hood plot where Jason Todd returns from the grave. None of this seems likely considering the fact that pretty much everything set up in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice got shelved.
Despite pretty much everything about Batman v. Superman getting panned by critics and fans alike, most agreed that Ben Affleck was surprisingly the best part as Batman. His grizzled and gritty take may not have been everyone's favorite interpretation of the character, but people seemed to agree that his commitment to the role was truly captivating.
Unfortunately, his tenure as Batman proved to be short lived. While it seemed like Ben Affleck might act and direct his own take on the character, all of those plans were scrapped. There was talk of him appearing in the Matt Reeves directed feature, but Affleck happily retired from the role earlier this year.
Whoever gets the role next, hopefully they enjoy it more.
14 A "Man Of Steel" Sequel
Man of Steel was the first film in the DCEU. While it wasn't the universally praised superhero milestone they hoped it to be, there was definitely cause to order a sequel. Instead of a direct sequel, they went with a team up movie in Batman v. Superman.
The running theme of this article seems to be that Batman v. Superman was the franchise closer to end all franchise closers. The Man of Steel franchise seems to be among the many that were eliminated by the film. The original set up ideas like the phantom zone and Supergirl that could easily have been incorporated into the subsequent films, but there's no chance that any of those elements are going to make their way to the big screen any time soon.
These films are buried next to Nicolas Cage's Superman Lives and J.J. Abrams' Superman: Flyby in the Superman movie graveyard, so at least there's good company.
13 Batman/Superman Debate
One of the most interesting parts about Batman v. Superman was the ideological debate between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. Bruce saw Superman as a dangerous alien that needed to be destroyed at all cost. Clark saw Batman as a dangerous vigilante who acted as judge, jury, and executioner.
This entire plot was dropped in the film entirely. There was no true closure to the debate. Instead the two put their differences aside because Batman and Superman's mothers have the same name and there was a worse looking CGI Hulk to fight.
When Superman is resurrected in Justice League, the two never even have a conversation about the events of the previous film. Bruce seems to just buy the bank that owns the Kent farm as an apology for beating him to a pulp and nearly destroying him with a spear. Y'know, as friends do.
12 Pretty Much Everything About "Suicide Squad"
Suicide Squad seemed like a truly interesting film when its first trailer dropped. It was a darker film that was going to focus on a team of deadly villains instead of heroes. This was clearly meant to boldly stand against the colorful Marvel movies.
Then Batman v. Superman dropped and they completely panicked.
The final Suicide Squad film feels like the original dark and brooding concept mixed sloppily with a bright and colorful cut that would fit with the Marvel aesthetic. The result was a film that was even more panned than the one that made the producers panic in the first place. James Gunn has been brought in to reboot the franchise so it seems unlikely that anything set up in the first one will come back again. Not that anyone seems to be complaining.
11 The League Of Disappointing Bad Guys
Justice League was one of the most disappointing superhero films of all time. It didn't manage to register with fans or critics and it didn't come anywhere near competing with the rival Avengers franchise. The film was a big swing and a miss that pretty well destroyed all of the concepts it tried to set up.
Among these concepts was the post credits scene that teased Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor hiring Joe Manganiello's Slade Wilson to join his Injustice League. This seemed to be a direct set up for the sequel but considering how little talk there is of that happening and that the cast of the film is slowly moving away from DC projects (aside from the surprisingly successful Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa.)
Mangeniello probably would've made a solid Deathstroke, but few mourn the loss of Eisenberg's Luthor. He is widely considered the worst version of the character and the role as one of the worst in the actor's career. Maybe it's a smart move for him to move on then.
10 The Justice League Trilogy
Justice League was originally supposed to be a trilogy. Batman v. Superman was to set the extended universe up, Justice League was to put the team together and the two subsequent films were apparently meant to deal with the Knightmare and Darkseid.
All of that was shelved midway through the process of making it happen. Snyder was hard at work on what would've been Justice League Part One only to have Joss Whedon complete a version of the film that had no clear vision at all. It was an odd mix of Snyder's original take and Whedon's Marvel aesthetic.
Now it doesn't even look like that movie is going to get a sequel. A sad fate for the most famous superhero team.
9 The Original Steppenwolf
The Batman v. Superman extended version features a scene where Luthor seems to interact with some sort of Steppenwolf image. This version of the character seems inhuman and much more monstrous. In the actual movie, he turned out quite differently.
Ciaran Hinds portrayed Steppenwolf in a needless motion capture performance instead. (Seriously, Steppenwolf was just a man in armor. Why did he need to be CGI?! That's basically like if Tom Hiddleston was a giant CGI monster for no reason.) Whatever plan there originally was for the character clearly got scrapped in exchange for one of the most underwritten villains in superhero movie history.
After the Batman v. Superman/Justice League debacle, the studio was desperate for a way to reboot their universe. The solution for this seemed pretty clear. The "Flashpoint" story in DC comics served as a reboot for the post crisis universe into the New 52 universe. A movie adaptation of it seemed like the hail Mary the studio needed.
Instead, Flashpoint ended up being another one of their projects that would get stuck in development. It's bounced from director to director with no real traction. It now seems unlikely that the Ezra Miller Flash might ever run again. It's more likely that the company will reboot the character like they are with Batman.
At least Miller has a larger part in the Fantastic Beasts franchise now. Even if it is a weird part.
7 The Dwayne, The Black Adam, Johnson
Warner Bros. has a really bad habit of casting actors in roles before they have scripts ready for those roles. (Though they aren't as bad as Universal. Remember "The Dark Universe" shared movie franchise about the Universal monsters that failed within a week of the first film was released? So embarrassing.)
This was exactly what they did with Dwayne, "The Rock", Johnson. They cast the actor as famous DC villain Black Adam. He was at one time going to appear in the Shazam! movie then maybe the Suicide Squad sequel. Both of those fell through and it seems like he may never play the character.
Though it is a strangely similar character to his in The Scorpion King and we all as a society just forget that ever happened so maybe it's for the best.
6 Green Lantern Lethal Weapon
Of the many many many DC projects that were announced for there to be no forward movement on them for years, one of the most famous is the Green Lantern Corps movie. It was at one time said to be a Lethal Weapon style action film with an older John Stewart mentoring a younger Hal Jordan.
What with the failures of Green Lantern to start a DC movie franchise and Justice League to subsequently fail to do the same, the GL movie seems like it might be lost in development hell.
Fans were really hoping Idris Elba and Armie Hammer might wash the Ryan Reynolds film out of our mouths, but that is very unlikely at this point.
5 Iris West
Fans who watched the trailers for Justice League were very surprised when many key scenes featured in it weren't in the actual film. While many of these things were just really small cg details like Cyborg's Iron Man mask or Superman's non-frightening face, some were more substantial.
The biggest of these was the exclusion of Iris West in the Whedon cut. (Yes, this is where we discuss what was taken out of the Snyder cut, you're welcome.) In the trailers, the Flash is seen racing to Iris' rescue. Not only was Iris cut from the final film, but the entire scene was removed as well.
In fact, the Flash has almost nothing to do in the film but drop the occasional one liner. Not that any of the others got a whole lot more.
4 Jimmy/Jenny Olsen
In Man of Steel, actress Rebecca Buller played a character that worked at the Daily Planet known as Jenny. She was widely assumed to be Jenny Olsen, a fun play on Superman's famous pal, Jimmy Olsen. For the most part, fans were fine with the change. Many were looking forward to seeing what they would do with this new take on the longtime Superman character.
Except they scrapped that idea in Batman v. Superman in order to focus on a grittier take on Jimmy Olsen. This one was a photographer that worked with Lois Lane until he was almost immediately revealed to be a spy. Then they wrote him off seconds later.
Having a new take on Jimmy Olsen is a perfectly fine creative choice but coming up with a new take only to scrap it for a different take, so you could then ruin that take within seconds is just sloppy and disrespectful to such an iconic character.
3 The D.C. Explosion
In Batman v. Superman, Lex Luthor sets off a bomb destroying the Capitol building in Washington D.C. This act sent waves throughout the DCEU and was a huge deal for the entire universe that would change everything forever.
Except it didn't. In any other movie, the destruction of the Capitol building would be a major plot point which would change the trajectory of the film. In Captain America: Civil War, Zemo attacking the U.N. is the inciting incident for all of the action that follows. Lex's attack has no effect on the film though. Sure, Batman is motivated to go slay Superman, but he was well on his way to that goal already.
The scene isn't even mentioned again. It literally set up a huge, nation shifting moment only to drop the entire thing a few minutes later.
2 Kryptonian Attack Fallout
Man of Steel ended with an incredibly controversial battle between Superman and General Zod that pretty well levels the city of Metropolis. Batman v. Superman capitalizes on this controversy by showing a breathtaking sequence where Bruce Wayne runs through Metropolis during the battle. The film also shows protesters that hate Superman and a big political movement to investigate him.
Then he loses his life at the end of that film and apparently everyone decides that they always loved him and that he's great. In Justice League, there's a giant statue dedicated to his honor in a somehow rebuilt Metropolis. Batman even has a monologue about how much hope the man he tried to defeat gave the world.
This is one of the obvious course corrects that Justice League makes from the previous film. It obviously was trying to recast the dour take on Superman into a more positive Christopher Reeves style take retroactively. It worked about as well as his upper lip did.
1 Aquaman's Water Powers
Aquaman was one of the best parts about Justice League. (Not that it's a huge feat.) The casting of Jason Momoa was one of the most brilliant decisions made during the DCEU tenure. They took the DC universe's most mockable hero and brought in Khal Drogo to make him awesome.
He even went on to star in a massively successful spin-off, but the character was a bit different in his own film. The biggest change was in his power set. In Justice League, Aquaman's first big show of force is when he stops a massive wave with his trident. This shows that he has some sort of water manipulation power. In Aquaman, Arthur Curry and his father are overtaken by a giant tidal wave. They are only saved by Mera coming to the rescue.
I guess Arthur just forgot that he could do that cool trident thing when the tidal wave was about to kill his father. Very inconvenient memory loss there, Aquaman.
What do you think? Were there any big dropped plot points that you wish would've happened? Still want that Snyder cut? Let us know in the comments!