Over the past five years, ever since the debut of Man of Steel (2013), Warner Bros. has been trying to develop a cinematic universe featuring DC characters. To date, that universe includes: Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), Wonder Woman (2017) and Justice League (2017).
At the end of this year Aquaman (2018) will be added to list, followed by Shazam! (2019) and Wonder Woman 1984 (2019) next year. Beyond these three films other movies are planned (Birds of Prey, Suicide Squad 2) but none have entered production yet – and I don’t think they should.
The only other movie to enter production at this stage, with a locked-in release date, is the Joaquin Phoenix-starring Joker movie, which is due out next year. The film – a stand alone tale focusing on the Clown Prince of Crime – will not be connected to the DC shared universe and will instead do it’s own thing.
Isn’t about time that more DC movies did this?
Back in June, I talked about what worked and what didn’t work in Warner Bros’. ongoing series of DC movies. During my discussion I suggested that it might be time to create a live action version of the DC Universe Animated Original – a series of unconnected movies based around iconic DC stories. Now, more than ever I think this is the way forward.
A couple of days ago, news broke that Henry Cavill may or may not be Superman, casting doubt on the Man of Steel’s future in the DC films. Today I’m suggesting that if Cavill is out, or even if he’s just being told to sit on the sidelines, now is the time for Warner Bros. to just abandon the idea of a shared universe completely and push for a collection of movies that have no connection.
Take Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy – three movies which exist independently of any other DC movies. These films – released between 2005 & 2012 – arrived, entertained audiences, reached a conclusion and were then put to rest. Can we not have more of this type of film making again?
Why not create another Batman trilogy based around Haunted Knight/The Long Halloween/Dark Victory? Cast a new actor as Batman, let him play the role over three movies and then move on to another actor and another trilogy of movies. Do the same with Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash etc and push for short term success rather than a long game that isn’t panning out.
I get why Warner Bros. is keen to create a shared universe – Disney/Marvel Studios have made billions of dollars from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it’s clearly a money maker. The problem is, while Warner Bros. is making money from the DC movies, the films are just not hitting the mark.
Warner Bros. has had financial success, this isn’t in dispute, but let’s be clear here, the current crop of connected DC movies are just not working the way they should. Elements work, but as a whole the decisions that are being made are alienating the fans and they’re simply not doing enough to appeal to general audiences either.
All DC films now run under the banner of Worlds of DC (the DCEU is no longer a thing) suggesting a multiverse is in the pipeline. The Joker movie is presumably testing the waters for this multiverse and if it is a success then I guess we’ll see many more unconnected movies.
For my money, Warner Bros. should concentrate on trilogies, focusing on individual characters with one actor/actress taking on the role for all three movies. Do this, recast and repeat.