If Justice League were a massive success, critically and financially, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment would be failing to capitalize. The film, touted to us as the project that would make up for the mixed responses to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice didn't quite deliver. And while a rushed release date, a change in director, and decisions from studio execs can all be to blame, there's a second layer to the problem the DC Cinematic Universe is facing.
Forget any ideas of a Marvel vs. DC conflict and let's talk about the basic business here. Wonder Woman bought Warner Bros. some serious credit. It set records and was universally enjoyed. It was a much-needed film for the studio and the genre, but not even Gal Gadot's Diana of Themyscira could help the Justice League beat Thor: Ragnarok in its box office opening.
The second layer of DC's problem is the larger plan, the franchise itself. The schedule of films announced during a shareholders meeting in October 2014 where Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara unveiled dates for 10 DC movies, is seeing constant change and what's already there isn't all being executed upon. That means, no momentum. Take Justice League for instance which was originally announced as two films. Writing has barely started on Justice League 2 which remains without a date or director, and perhaps, without even a Batman actor.
There was initially going to be at least two tentpoles per year with room for additional solo movies for Batman and Superman. And of course, since then, over a dozen extra titles have reportedly entered development (including Nightwing, Batgirl, Black Adam, Joker origin movie, Justice League Dark, Gotham City Sirens, Deathstroke, Suicide Squad 2, Booster Gold, Wonder Woman 2, etc.). With that in mind, what is Warner Bros building towards? What are their plans for the Justice League? Why isn't it official who's in Matt Reeves' Batman movie? Is there a long-form story or should we expect plenty of standalone films from talented filmmakers? Why don't we know?
But back to the point at hand, the plan was to build the universe around their event team-ups but following Justice League, there's nothing releasing for over a year so even if the movie was much beloved, it's not serving well as a launchpad since Aquaman is the only DC movie scheduled in 2018. And it doesn't release until December. That means following the long-awaited uniting of the League, there will be seven (7!) Marvel movies in a row thanks to three different studios developing titles with various Marvel licenses. Marvel Studios bumped up annual production to three features per year beginning in 2017 and next year we're seeing the same from Fox and their X-Men franchise. 2018 also marks the beginning of Sony's Marvel Universe, an "adjunct" of the main Marvel Cinematic Universe which may or may not connect with Spider-Man trilogy.
Here are all the DC Entertainment and Marvel-licensed live-action features releasing wide theatrically in 2018:
- February 9, 2018 - Black Panther
- April 13, 2018 - The New Mutants
- May 4, 2018 - Avengers: Infinity War
- May 31, 2018 - Deadpool 2
- July 6, 2018 - Ant-Man and the Wasp
- October 5, 2018 - Venom
- November 2, 2018 - X-Men: Dark Phoenix
- December 21, 2018 - Aquaman
Perhaps some time off for the DC camp is just what's needed post-Snyder however, especially if Justice League may represent a loss for the studio. All it takes is a hit or two and everything's back on track and you can look at Deadpool and Logan for Fox as an example which made up for the messy X-Men: Apocalypse. We do know Shazam! and Wonder Woman 2 will shoot next year so they'll have at least two releases in 2019, perhaps another if one of the many other projects is ready to enter production in late 2018.
What do you want to see following Aquaman? Are you game for standalones based on your favorite properties or would you rather see DC Entertainment build towards massive, inter-connected events? Both? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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