Zack Snyder's time with the DC Extended Universe may be over, but more information is constantly coming out about his original plans for the universe, including the recent revelation that Superman's story was supposed to be 5 movies long. The DCEU is still steadily moving forward without Snyder, but after the failure of Justice League, it's not abundantly clear what direction the franchise will be heading outside of its selection of stand-alone films.
Lost in the shuffle seems to be Man of Steel 2, a movie a number of fans want to see enter production. Henry Cavill is still passionate about the character and all but confirmed to have a part in Shazam, but, despite rumblings, the movie doesn't appear to be any closer to development. The first Man of Steel came out 5 years ago, so how is its sequel not further along?
The answer has recently surfaced and left many fans scratching their heads. It turns out the sequel to Man of Steel was always meant to be Batman v Superman. In fact, according to Jay Oliva, who worked closely with Zack Snyder on all his DCEU projects, Man of Steel was the first installment in what Snyder intended to be a five movie arc focused on Superman. However, despite the focus on the big blue boy scout, not a single one of those movies was meant to be Man of Steel 2
So that means Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Justice League Part I, and Justice League Part II had a fifth companion to tell a single Superman arc. Is it possible there was supposed to also be a Justice League Part III? While only 2 Justice League movies were ever announced by Warner Bros, but back in 2015, a rumor briefly circulated claiming that Justice League would be a trilogy. It didn't get much traction at the time, but with what we know now, especially in light of Jay Oliva's recent tweets, a Zack Snyder planned Justice League trilogy makes a lot of sense.
The DCEU Was More Planned Out Than People Think
The DCEU has been under fire for the way it developed its shared universe since day one. After Man of Steel served as a standalone introduction, it was announced that Batman would be introduced in the sequel, Batman v Superman. This immediately caused intense debate over why they would introduce major characters like this instead of giving them a solo movie first like Marvel did. Ironically, at the same time, the DCEU was also drawing criticism for simply copying Marvel in its attempt to launch a shared universe franchise.
The absurdity of the idea that all characters need their own solo movie first aside (there are decades of excellent ensemble movies that introduce all their characters just fine), the "Marvel formula" is a new thing when it comes to franchise filmmaking, so the assumption that all franchises need to do the same thing is a bit premature. In fact, when it comes to multibillion-dollar franchises, Marvel's formula is in the minority. The Fast and the Furious movies have been almost exclusively team-ups before finally getting a spin-off with Hobbs and Shaw, and Harry Potter was also all ensemble movies without origin stories for each character.
The reality is Zack Snyder had a full arc plotted out, and there's even evidence in movies with things like the Knightmare sequence, the crosses at the end of the Doomsday battle, and more all serving as set up for something that was supposed to pay off in movies down the line.
The problem, and where claims that DC didn't have a plan should get a little credence, is the fact that Zack Snyder was never allowed to properly execute on that plan. Warner Bros. has spent a majority of the DCEU trying to course correct, cutting 30 minutes from Snyder's cut of BvS to create the inferior theatrical cut, drastically altering Suicide Squad after BvS's reception, ordering pre-production changes to Snyder's original version of Justice League, then, eventually, firing him altogether and having Joss Whedon reshoot the movie into a completely different tone and significantly altered story.
Regardless, the 5 movie plan was drastically changed, and we'll probably only ever see 2 1/2 of them, but after putting the pieces back together, it looks like a Justice League trilogy could have been in the cards.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020