DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is dead. Long live the DCEU.
Well, in some new, seemingly brilliant way, anyway. The recent merger of Warner Bros. and Discovery – a powerful unit known as Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) – has led to serious discussions about how the DCEU will work from now on.
Now, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter, the new WBD plan for DCEU movies and HBO Max shows is simple: let DCEU’s greatest creators lead it in a new direction.
What does it mean? As a result, directors, writers, and actors including Matt Reeves (Batman), James Gunn (The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker), and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Black Adam) are building pocket universes based on DC characters that have proven to be box office megahits .
Among the numerous DCEU mistakes in recent years, including the fall of Snyder-Verse and fan anger over Batgirl’s film cancellation, it seems like a really smart move from WBD. In fact, it’s a creative decision that could spell the end of DC’s founding of cinematic multiverse – for now.
Take Black Adam, for example. Johnson is currently the highest grossing and highest grossing A-list star in the world. The enormous interest and sympathy of the wrestler-turned-actor regularly helps his films gain huge numbers around the world, even if these films are not always well received by critics. Meanwhile, in the streaming world, Johnson’s star power helped Red Notice become the most watched Netflix original movie of all time in December 2020. Even the star-studded Don’t Look Up or The Gray Man by the Russo brothers could not usurp the right. in December 2021 and July 2022
Regardless of how critics view Black Adam ahead of the October 21 release, one thing is clear: if you’re a WBD, you’re allowing Johnson to carve your own universe, specific to Black Adam. Forget tying it to the cinematic DC multiverse. Let the antihero stand on his own super-strong legs, let him become widely known all over the world and next start introducing it in the wider DCEU.
A similar approach can also be used for other recent DC properties. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad was not very successful financially. In fact, it only grossed $ 168.7 million worldwide. Compared to its reported budget of $ 185 million, this should be considered a box office disappointment.
However, the superhero movie was hailed by critics prior to its release and won praise from DC fans for its humor, visual atmosphere, and R-rated action sequences. Add to that the fact that it had the second-largest opening weekend for Warner Bros. films to premiere of the day. and dates – until August 2021 at least – in HBO Max, and The Suicide Squad was quite successful.
Gunn’s magic touch was also visible in early 2022. Peacemaker, a spin-off starring John Cena Suicide Squad TV, was one of the most popular series in the first months of the year, with The Book of Boba Fett and The Witcher season 2 struggling to keep pace with the public’s demand outlook.
Like Johnson, Gunn deserves to continue developing a similarly small universe based on The Suicide Squad. Peacemaker is now in its second season and, according to a THR report, Gunn is preparing some more DC projects. Does this include the Suicide Squad sequel or another TV spin-off? Building on the success of the two productions he directs, it is in WBD’s best interest to go green for other projects led by Gunn.
Then there’s Batman. Matt Reeves’ first hit on a superhero mansion was a huge success for Warner Bros. The film grossed nearly $ 800 million worldwide and received rave reviews from fans and critics alike.
No wonder WBD is extremely eager to continue exploring neo-noir, a pulp-style Batman universe. The sequel has now been confirmed, the TV spin-off starring Colin Farrell in Penguin is in development, and the Arkham Asylum horror project is also underway. According to a THR report, Reeves has already met with writers and directors to create more film and TV spin-offs based on the iconic Caped Crusader gallery of bullies. These projects can focus on villains like Scarecrow, Clayface, and even Professor Pyg.
Given Batman’s enduring popularity as a character and the new direction Reeves has taken to branding, it’s understandable that more Batman-centric projects are on the way. It is a universe that is also outside the DCEU – and should remain so. Like Black Adam and The Suicide Squad, WBD should allow Reeves to create a world without ties to his wider cinematic universe, allowing him to remain freed from other Batman and DCEU productions that have come and gone.
Unfortunately, the potential long-term plan to create smaller, superhero-specific universes is not easy to fix. Over the next few years, there will be other DCEU movies like Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom and Wonder Woman 3 that are inextricably linked with DCEU. Based on the rumors also circulating around Black Adam, it looks like ties have already been forged between this movie and the movies set in the Snyder-Verse that muddy the waters of the DCEU even more than they used to be.
These potential problems are nothing when you consider The Flash – the most controversial upcoming WBD movie given the events surrounding Ezra Miller star. The links between the June 2023 movie and the DCEU multiverse and previous Batman movies are obvious. And with a script for the Flash sequel already written, this might not be the end of the DCEU’s exploration of its multiverse.
The thing is, that’s the way it should be. At least for now. Warner Bros. Discovery tried to build the multiverse in the same vein as Marvel’s movie juggernaut, but it just didn’t work as intended. There was no clear plan for his creation or how all of his movies and TV shows effectively fit into the DCEU.
In our opinion, the best way for the DCEU to move forward is to do it with as few interconnections as possible between each universe as possible. Let each creator shape his pocket worlds in his own image and give up the need to match each property to his contemporaries. Then check which ones resonate with your audience the most before you start building a multiverse in which these characters can interact. Sure, it’s going to be a long, methodical path to a shared DC universe. However, given the alternative, this is a walk WBD should take if it ultimately wants to be able to compete with Marvel.
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