For months, comic book movie fans have been trying to determine if Warner Bros. has a long term plan for its DC Entertainment properties. Following the commercial success of their Superman reboot, Man of Steel, the studio was quick to announce a sequel but Warner Bros. blew expectations wide open when they revealed that the follow-up would include Batman and pave the way for a Justice League movie universe. Nearly one year, and several casting announcements, later and fans have begun to wonder if Kal-El is getting short shrift in his next big screen appearance, now titled Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
With some version of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) all set to appear, among others, DC Comics fans have regularly questioned whether Warner Bros. is rushing a quality solo Superman story in order to get a full-fledged shared universe off the ground. Now, thanks to a new industry report, we may have the blueprints for the studio's upcoming slate of DC Entertainment films - which is far more ambitious than many likely thought.
The report comes courtesy of the newly launched Nikki Finke website - and while we've seen similar rumors in the past, it's hard to argue with Finke's track record. Like any other unconfirmed rumor, fans should take this release schedule with a grain of salt but, given its source, there's a definite possibility that this slate is what Warner Bros is currently developing. After all, we'd previously heard that the studio was busy planning 11 different DC film projects:
- May 2016 – Batman v Superman
- July 2016 – Shazam
- Xmas 2016 – Sandman
- May 2017 – Justice League
- July 2017 – Wonder Woman
- Xmas 2017 – Flash and Green Lantern team-up
- May 2018 – Man Of Steel 2
Finke also rattles off a number of other details that will likely please or outrage potential fans - asserting that the Batman V Superman delay wasn't due to the script, Ben Affleck, or anyone else. According to her source, the film delay was designed to give the studio more time to line-up actors/actresses for key future roles - roles that will be teased with cameo appearances in Batman V Superman.
“Like Marvel’s The Avengers, there will be cameos of superheroes for future installments. The cameos will include the already known Cyborg and Flash. Green Lantern [not played by Ryan Reynolds, thank god] may be introduced. And Aquaman will be seen in the Justice League movie. Problem is, Warner Bros Pictures was still negotiating with the actors for those cameos and future roles, meaning major contracts for multiple JL/character films to follow. The studio didn’t want to move forward until they had more of this secure so they held off starting production for a few months. Seemingly simple reason, but the implications are pretty darn huge.”
The source also claims that Metal Men and Suicide Squad movies were, at one point, aiming for release in 2016 - but both projects have since been removed from Warner Bros.' current slate. Suicide Squad had previously been connected to reports that DC intended to release one or two lower budget superhero movies each year but, if the new schedule is to be believed, it's possible that the studio has pushed smaller projects aside and invested heavily in tentpole DC blockbusters (with the exception of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Sandman movie).
As mentioned, the report cannot be confirmed at this time but a lot of the details line up with previous rumors. For nearly a year, we've been hearing reports that Batman V Superman would shoot back to back with Justice League - with the intention of releasing the superhero team-up in 2017. A Wonder Woman spinoff had previously been semi-confirmed by industry insiders - though it wasn't clear exactly when the studio was intending to send the film into theaters. Fans of Wonder Woman, as well as anyone who has been hoping to see more female superheroes taking center stage, should be excited to see that the solo adventure isn't too far down the slate. Similarly, the assertion of a Shazam film in 2016 could line-up with reports that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been in talks with Warner Bros. for his own DC Comics franchise - with repeated sources insinuating that Shazam could be Johnson's mystery role.
That said, it has also been speculated that Johnson might portray a new John Stewart Green Lantern - which would also line-up with Finke's assertion that Ryan Reynolds will not return to the DC movie universe as Hal Jordan. Interestingly, the new report suggests that with or without Johnson, Green Lantern won't get his own solo film this round (at least not yet) and will, instead, be paired with The Flash. Anyone who has read the comic book source material knows that some Green Lanterns have enjoyed a fun camaraderie/friendly rivalry with certain Flash iterations - delivering quirky buddy cop comedy with action-packed superhero antics.
As we've discussed numerous times before in Screen Rant articles and our Screen Rant Underground Podcast, DC isn't directly emulating Marvel's Avengers format - and while characters like Green Lantern and The Flash may be well-known, they're not guaranteed box office hits. For that reason, it appears as though DC is willing to experiment with shared universe team-ups after Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice - to maximize the buzz and box office for characters that would not otherwise be sure-fire ticket sellers.
Aquaman falls into a similar category. While the character is well known, and rising in popularity thanks to a solid New 52 redesign, there's still a lot of stigma around the Aquatic Ace - enough that a solid chunk of moviegoers would likely role their eyes at the announcement of a solo Aquaman movie. Still, speculation persists that Jason Mamoa, who recently signed for a DC part, could be preparing for Aquaman (assuming you don't believe those Matt Damon rumors). If the character made a splash, pardon the pun, in Justice League, moviegoers should be able to move past pre-conceived notion of skin-tight scale pants and matching cod pieces, and get legitimately excited for a full-fledged Aquaman movie.
Last up, for moviegoers who are worried about the future of Superman on film, the new report will likely help you rest a little bit easier. 2018 is a long time to wait but it's reassuring, at least for those who enjoyed Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, to hear that Warner Bros hasn't forgotten about the character that set this entire shared movie universe in motion.
That said, will Batfans have to wait until 2019 for a solo Ben Affleck-led Caped Crusader film?
Batman V Superman is scheduled to hit theaters on May 6, 2016 with Justice League set to follow some time in the future. Currently, the rest of the rumored Warner Bros. release schedule remains unconfirmed.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for any future updates on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.
Source: Nikki Finke