Warner Bros. is still trying to recover from the fallout of the decision to abandon Zack Snyder's vision for Justice League and the DC Extended Universe before he had a chance to complete it. Ever since Snyder's departure, Warner Bros. has had trouble pivoting away from the universe he built, and at this point, they would have been better off to just let him finish his self-contained arc (which could have happened in June 2019 anyway) before rebooting.
Despite the drastic changes to Justice League, Aquaman was far enough along that it proceeded similarly to how it would have had Snyder not left, and Wonder Woman earned Patty Jenkins the freedom to do what she wanted with Wonder Woman 1984, but The Flash, The Batman, Green Lantern Corps, and Cyborg all saw major disruptions, and now the versions of The Batman and The Flash being produced have little to do with the original plan for those characters.
Looking back at the original DC movie release slate, we're nearing the end of what was announced. Shazam was always slated for April 5th, Justice League Part 2 was supposed to arrive June 14th, with Rick Famuyiwa's Flash movie slated last year, and Cyborg and Green Lantern set for next year. Presumably, The Batman would have fit somewhere in that time frame as well, but Affleck's version never got off the ground.
So we lost the original versions of The Flash and The Batman along with Snyder's Justice League 2, and the only thing added to the slate in that time period was the non-DCEU canon Joker with Joaquin Phoenix.
- This Page: Justice League Was Supposed to Pivot to Set Up The DCEU's Future
- Page 2: Snyder's Arc Could Have Naturally Rebooted in 2019 Anyway
Justice League Was Supposed to Pivot to Set Up The DCEU's Future
After two divisive, but financially successful installments by Zack Snyder (and one by David Ayer), Warner Bros. grew impatient with Snyder's handling of the DC characters and began pressuring him into making some drastic changes to the characters and tone of Justice League. Snyder was ultimately forced off the project after completing 100% of principal photography and was well into post-production, and the reins were handed over to Joss Whedon, who made sweeping changes to the story, tone, and characters through $25 million in reshoots.
The thinking behind this move at the time was that Justice League would be a pivot away from the Snyderverse, setting the world up for the future that was more in-line with the tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Warner Bros. figured that the cost to Justice League would be acceptable because it ensured the long term viability of the DCEU as a shared universe. But that's not what happened.
Justice League Killed The DCEU's Momentum
Despite this shift happening to set up the universe for a brighter future, it actually killed any momentum the DCEU had going fot it. Justice League got marginally better reviews than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but its bland makeover made it quickly forgotten. According to Neil Daly, who conducted test screenings of Justice League for Warner Bros., Batman and Superman were the least well received characters, despite being the two biggest DC properties and cornerstones of the universe moving forward.
Justice League was a financial disaster for Warner Bros., and the overall lack of enthusiasm to see anything more from these characters - especially Batman and Superman - effectively killed the DCEU's momentum. Despite the polarized responses to Zack Snyder's story, there was actually curiosity to find out where he was taking the story. Now, with that story killed and the characters watered down by Justice League, there was no longer a clear path forward.
It also did significant off-screen damage. During Justice League's production, Ben Affleck stepped down as writer/director for The Batman, beginning a two-year will-he-won't-he question about his future portraying Batman. It would also eventually come out that Henry Cavill and Warner Bros. also failed to reach an agreement over Cavill's future as Superman, and now they might be shifting focus to Supergirl instead, with no current plans for Cavill or Affleck to appear again. Now, it seems like Ezra Miller is on the verge of departing, and there's never been any sign of forward progress on Ray Fisher's Cyborg movie.
The movie slate has also been virtually obliterated. Aquaman and Wonder Woman 1984 are still happening, but almost the entirety of the previously announced slate has vanished, or been stuck in development hell, like The Flash. Instead, Warner Bros. is opting to move forward with a much less connected universe.
At this point, if there is another Justice League movie in this continuity, it could be with four of the six members of the original movie totally recast, presuming they even stick with the same characters. What Warner Bros. initially planned as a tonal shift to reposition the characters for a bright Marvel-style shared universe turned into essentially an involuntary reboot.