It’s interesting (and potentially, exciting) days in the world of the DC Comics Extended Universe, with Zack Snyder plugging away on Justice League, Wonder Woman on its journey from footage to feature film, the story for a solo Batman movie in the works from Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns, and Suicide Squad on its way to theaters. Truthfully, there are more projects on the go, all standing at various levels of development. But with Geoff Johns and producer Jon Berg taking positions overseeing the DC Films division of Warner Bros., how much is expected to change?
Films like James Wan’s Aquaman and the now-without-a-director Flash movie are just two of the movies announced with release dates as part of WB’s full DCEU slate, but even before Suicide Squad hit screens, reports suggested that David Ayer would be rolling cameras on the sequel next year, with a projected release date in 2018. So with the new leadership in place, and apparently even more projects being rumored due to the success of Squad, are the new minds behind the DCEU hitting the ground running, or breaking out their calendars to start re-assessing the schedule?
Regardless of the critical reception to Batman V Superman, the positivity surrounding Suicide Squad has only grown – according to Ayer, the studio offered the director reshoots as a result of their confidence, saying: “when a studio loves your movie and asks what else you want, go for it! #ThanksWB #moreaction”. So it surprised no one when TheWrap reported word that Suicide Squad 2 was planned to shoot in 2017 with Ayer and star Will Smith confirmed to return. As the pair have locked in for the fantasy-cop-thriller Bright, TheWrap maintains that with Bright expected to shoot in Los Angeles this Fall, Ayer and Smith will then move forward onto Suicide Squad in early to mid-2017.
Fans already convinced that Ayer has gotten the adaptation of some of DC’s most memorable criminals right will be elated to hear that the plan remains the same. And in the grand scheme of DC’s slate of in-development films, Suicide Squad 2 looks most likely to be on relative autopilot, should a majority of the desired cast return (signed to multi-picture deals). But with Justice League planned for November, 2017, and The Flash, Aquaman, and an unknown DC film coming in March, July, and October, respectively, the schedule seems full.
If those were the only films in production, then almost three DC films in one calendar year would seem like a dream come true. But add in the unofficial movies that seem to be moving with more speed or creative momentum – Affleck’s solo Batman movie, a rumored Harley Quinn film filled with femme fatales, and the recently confirmed Booster Gold movie from Greg Berlanti’s camp – and something has clearly got to change.
That’s not necessarily a problem – merely a reality that Johns and Berg (under their respective presidents) will need to sort out. Having a dozen (or two) DC movies in development may sound like a fan’s dream, but actually getting them greenlit and moving into pre-production is something else entirely. With The Flash‘s director out, and Aquaman clearly a tough nut to crack due to the unique nature of the hero and story, it’s seeming less and less likely that they’ll be the next films out of the DC gate.
Since those dates were set before Batman V Superman changed the reality – for good and bad, with Affleck taking on a larger role, and the studio realizing that turning criticism into actual creative direction required a formal position – then at this point, 2018 could prove to be an unexpected one for DC Films.
One could argue that the changes in release dates could be a good thing, considering that the films moving ahead (or appearing to, at least) seem the most promising: a Batman movie conceived of and directed by an Oscar-winning director, another (potentially R-Rated) Suicide Squad film, and a Harley Quinn film featuring heroines like Batgirl or the Birds of Prey. Not to mention the assembled Justice League with at least an appearance from Darkseid, if the rumors are true. That’s if – and it’s a big if – the rumors are mostly accurate, and the DCEU grows as the talent demands, not as the studio mandates.
Only time will tell. In the best case (and thankfully, what appears to be the most likely) scenario, projects with writers and directors already attached will move forward as they have been. But if Warner Bros. has realized that dedicated comic minds and executives are needed to make sure their filmmaker-driven approach is successful, they’ve hopefully realized that some projects may take longer than expected to get right. At least, we can only hope so.
Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.
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