What DC Comics movies has Warner Bros got up its sleeve?

Feature Rob Leane 2 May 2014 - 06:47

Warner Bros has announced nine new comic book movies over the next couple of years, but what could they be?

With the news dropping recently that Warner Brothers have set plans for nine DC comics-inspired movies, it looks like we might finally see some further exploration of DC’s wide-reaching universe.

Since Richard Donner invented a genre with Superman: The Movie in 1978, DC has always played it relatively safe, mainly sticking to Superman and Batman sequels and reboots. On the other hand, Kevin Feige’s Marvel Studios have pushed forward with such confidence that they are now making standalone movies for lesser-known heroes like Ant-Man and the Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Despite having their fingers burnt on the dissapointing Green Lantern movie, the lure of cashing in on Avengers Assemble levels of success has clearly forced Warner Brothers into action, with building a similarly interconnected movieverse at the top of their agenda.

First Batman was added to the Man of Steel sequel, then Wonder Woman and Cyborg joined the party, and now Zack Snyder has been announced as the director of the Justice League movie, that will follow Batman Vs Supermanthat this still officially unnamed feature will lead into a Justice League film.

With this in mind, it seems likely that these new nine films will build on characters we’ve already seen, add a few more heroes to the universe and possibly even have a few more random team-up/versus movies too. DC’s separate Vertigo line has some interesting properties for standalone adaptations, too. We had a look at the likely contenders.

Standalone Superman sequel

Rumour or definite? Despite not being officially announced, the continuing of Warner Brother’s only currently-active cinematic superhero franchise is about as ‘strongly rumoured’ as they come.

What do we know so far? Shafted out of a straight sequel by Warner Brother’s desire to establish a wider world, The Big Blue Boy Scout is surely going to get his chance to shine solo-style again pretty soon. Assuming he’s on an insanely long contract, we can expect Henry Cavill to don the cape once more, presumably joined by Amy Adams’ Lois Lane and Laurence Fishburne’s Perry White.

Plot-wise, the official rules of threequels suggest we should see a campier tone and/or too many villains (Luthor creates Bizzaro, anyone?). After the directorial triple bill of Man of Steel, Batman Vss Superman and Justice League, this could well be the first film in the new Supes series that Zack Snyder steps away from.

Why should it be made? Whereas Christopher Reeve’s benchmark Supes had his no-killing rule from the start, Cavill’s darker incarnation notoriously doesn’t have one yet. Assuming that Batman Vs Superman sees Superman take a rollocking for a lack of due care in his origin tale, this threequeel could be the first time we see the new Supes as a truly confident, caring hero.

Likelihood level: Very, but we may have to wait awhile.

New Batman movie

Rumour or definite? Again, no official statements have been made about a standalone Batman movie. With the insane amount of publicity for Ben Affleck’s casting though, it’s bound to happen.

What do we know so far? Snippets of rumours surrounding Batman Vs Superman have told us that Affleck’s Batman will be an older, seasoned, potentially semi-retired version. Jeremy Irons well surely return as Alfred in any future films too. Further tidbits have suggested that Bats may also have another established ally in Robin/Nightwing and possibly even an army of Bat-drones.

With that in mind, we can assume The Dark Knight’s rogues gallery is already existent in this world too, which could lead to a wide-reaching investigative arc like The Long Halloween taking to the screen. This story saw Batman rummaging through his enemies in search of a new serial killer.

Why should it be made? Batman is a part of our culture. Everyone has ‘their’ Batman. There’s no need to rob the next generation of kids of that thrill just because Christopher Nolan left. Plus, y’know, Batman’s cool.

Likelihood Level: Very, but again, we might not get a standalone Batman film until after Justice League.

Fables

Rumour or definite? Actually definite! Despite things falling a bit quiet lately, a Fables movie was announced over a year ago.

What do we know so far? David Heyman, producer of the entire Harry Potter film series, is helping bring this long-running fairy-tale inspired comic book to the screen. Nikolaj Arcel, director of Danish period drama A Royal Affair, is purportedly attached to direct.

Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and Bigby Wolf, a bad-ass sheriff version of the Big Bad Wolf all appear in the comic. If this film could straddle a comic book movie tone with that of a live-action fairy-tale, Warner Brothers could be onto something big here.

Why should it be made? Do the words ‘bad-ass sheriff version of the Big Bad Wolf’ really need repeating?

Likelihood Level: Very. It's happening.

Sandman

Rumour or definite? Sandman is another confirmed property, announced in December 2013.

What do we know so far? Long dubbed ‘unfilmable’, Neil Gaiman’s beautiful vision of the world of dreams will finally be brought to the screen with the help of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It’s unclear exactly which roles the actor/producer/director will play in the film, but starring seems the biggest certainty.

Printed under DC’s separate Vertigo line, Sandman includes Dream, Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair and Delirium as characters as well as a whole host of crazy cameos (hello, William Shakespeare!). It really needs to be read to be understood (for now). Cinematic superhero stalwart writer David S. Goyer helped pitch the film and Jack Thorne of How I Live Now is attached to work further on the screenplay.

Why should it be made? With any luck, this movie will remind us that superheroes aren’t the only great things to come out of comics.

Likelihood Level: Definite.

Wonder Woman solo movie

Rumour or definite? The role of Wonder Woman has been cast for Batman Vs Superman, but a standalone movie is only a rumour currently.

What do we know so far? With a potential TV show seemingly dead on arrival, the future of Wonder Woman onscreen is still unclear. We do know that Gal Gadot of the Fast and Furious franchise will take the role of Diana of Themyscira in Snyder’s upcoming Man of Steel sequel, though. Future standalone films probably hinge on her reception in that movie.

After some hefty scepticism from fans (not all of it healthy, in truth) Godot inevitably has to establish herself in the role, but a successful supporting performance could make her the first major standalone superheroine since the revival. Expect any attempt at a big screen version of her origins to tone down the magical element slightly.

Why should it be made? It’s criminal that we’ve been enjoying superhero movies in their current state since 2000’s X-Men but the only female-centred flicks we’ve got have been Elektra and Hale Berry’s dodgy Catwoman. But also: Wonder Woman, on top form, is great.

Likelihood Level: Lots of talk of this one. The consensus seems to be that Warner Bros wants to do, and some work is being done. But it's looking for a bit more confidence before it gives Wonder Woman a green light.

A new Green Lantern

Rumour or definite? Some hints have been dropped, but nothing else as of yet.

What do we know so far? With the potential Green Lantern franchise dead in the water after Ryan Reynold’s incarnation threatened to burst the superhero bubble for everyone, ‘franchise viagra’ Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson sparked rumours that he might be taking on the mantle with the handy hashtag #JohnStewartCanStillWhupSupermansAss back in February, alluding to another famous member of Green Lantern Corps.

Bigger, blacker and bad-ass-ier, this Lantern has screen potential. That tweet and a ton of denials is all we’ve got so far, though, but it still seems infinitely more likely than a return for Reynolds. A fun-filled team-up (with TV’s Green Arrow or Martian Manhunter, perhaps?) might be a good way to rebuild faith in the character.

Why should it be made? The Lanterns have far more potential than the last film suggested, a reboot must surely happen at some point.

Likelihood Level: Hmmm. So-so, we'd reckon. 5/10?

Shazam!

Rumour or definite? Shazam was a definite until some troubles with the development hit in December. It’s still pretty likely, though.

What do we know so far? Predominantly-comedy director Peter Segal (Get Smart, 50 First Dates, The Longest Yard) has been believed to be adapting the Captain Marvel (a.k.a. Shazam) property to the big screen for quite a while. Segal’s interpretation of this story (which centres on a young boy who becomes a Superman-like hero when he says ‘Shazam!’) was said to be pretty far along.

This film was never officially cancelled, but purportedly hit difficulties when the tonally-disparate Man of Steel hit so big at the box office. However, alongside the news of Zack Snyder taking on the Justice League helm which dropped recently, Warner Brothers’ President of Worldwide Production Greg Silverman mentioned that a Shazam movie is still in the works. Fresh rumours suggest that, if he isn’t a new Lantern, Dwayne Johnson could be Shazam’s nemesis Black Adam.

Why should it be made? If the tent-pole DCCU properties are committed to staying dark, gritty and blowy-uppy, a kid-centric property like Shazam could ensure Warner Brother’s still has something for younger audiences and broodingly-exhausted adults.

Likelihood Level: Warner Bros is still openly talking about it. That makes the film relatively likely to happen.

Metal Men

Rumour or definite? This one looks definite for the time-being, with an interesting director attached.
What do we know so far? Men In Black director Barry Sonnenfeld is officially attached to a screen adaptation of this leftfield DC property. Based on the AI creations of scientist Dr. William Magnus, this comic is unlike anything onscreen currently.

These superhero robots are each based on a different chemical element with Gold being the leader, Iron being the strongest one, and so on. Like his Men in Black trilogy, a film adaptation of these characters could be a quirky oddball hit if pulled off well.

Why should it get made? We’ve seen guys with big muscles punch other guys with big muscles umpteen times, but have we seen a team of funny robots? Not yet.

Likelihood Level: A strong candidate to happen.

Green Arrow Movie

Rumour or definite? Rumours of a cinematic appearance for ‘The Arrow’ are regularly teased by the star, but no actual announcements have been made.

What do we know so far? His name is Stephen Amell. After two years on a great TV show, he has come home with only one goal – to get in a movie. But to do so, Arrow can’t be the repetitive freak-of-the-week show it sometimes is. To honour its fans wishes, it must be somewhat better, it must be… something better.

Rumours of a solo cinematic outing for Oliver Queen have floated around for a while, so there’s a chance a big screen Arrow adventure might be one of Warner Brother’s nine films. However, star Stephen Amell has teasingly tweeted about Green Arrow’s adventures with the Justice League too. The latter seems more likely, with a supporting role potentially suiting his character more on the big screen. After two seasons of character development, a two hour movie might not do all the characters justice.

Why should it get made? Fans of the show would undoubtedly support a film version, but like Renner’s Hawkeye, Amell’s Oliver might work better by adding some ‘normal dude with a skill’ likeability to a super-powerful group.

Likelihood Level: Not bad, but the TV show will be the main focus for Arrow, at least in the short to medium term.

100 Bullets

Rumour or definite? 100 Bullets is announced and in development, so only big trouble can stop it.

What do we know so far? Like Shazam, this superhero-free film noir-inspired revenge story got a namedrop during the Justice League announcement. As with the Sandman adaptation, scripter of Batman Begins/Man of Steel/many more David S. Goyer is attached to help spruce up this property up for the screen.

Previously touted for telly, mentioning 100 Bullets alongside a film announcement suggests a cinematic version is now the priority. As well as the eponymous bullets, expect deeply flawed characters, secret agents and heaps of vengeance.

Why should it be a movie? 100 Bullets could turn a whole new audience onto comic book movies by being hugely cool in its own right.

Likelihood Level: Yep, as things stand, this one's very likely.

The Flash film

Rumour or definite? Flash hitting the big screen is just a rumour, but his TV show is a definite.

What do we know so far? With Marvel and Fox both cramming their speedy superhero Quicksilver into their upcoming ensemble sequels, DC have opted to create a live-action action version of the most iconic pacey protector – The Flash. Don’t hold your breath for a movie though, like Green Arrow, The Flash is destined for TV for the time being.

Based on the Barry Allen police investigator version of the character, this Flash will be played by Grant Gustin, who has already shown up in-character during Arrow. Expect social awkwardness mixed with scientific skill, but don’t expect a movie any time soon.

Why should it get made? Like Amell’s Green Arrow, this character is possibly best suited to TV for now. No-one has ruled out cameo appearances yet though.

Likelihood Level: Not an immediate priority. A standalone film seems a very long shot right now.

Justice League Dark

Rumour or definite? Justice League Dark is as definite as not-yet-filmed del Toro projects ever are.

What do we know so far? We’ve known for months that Guillermo del Toro is working on a feature length version of Justice League Dark, a classic horror-inspired offshoot of the main JLA housed under DC’s riskier Vertigo imprint. A lack of news in the past few months is slightly worrying considering the eventual fate of del Toro’s Hulk TV show, but with Warner Brothers seemingly pushing forward with a lot of projects, good money is on this being one of them.

Narrative-wise, del Toro has dropped hints that demon-from-hell Etrigan, elemental creature Swamp Thing and the self-explanatory Deadman will all feature alongside occult detective and potential Nick Fury equivalent John Constantine. With the man who helmed Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy behind the camera, an abundance of weird and wonderful is a certainty.

Why should it get made? We’ve got lots of horror movies, we’ve got lots of comic book movies, but we’ve never seen the two mashed together on screen quite like this.

Likelihood Level: Quite good to very good.

Aquaman movie

Rumour or definite? This one’s a rumour with a capital R. Rumour. See?

What do we know so far? Rumours spread around the internet this week that Matt Damon has been linked to playing Aquaman in the Justice League film. The Dweller in the Depths is a mainstay in the comic book League, so a cameo or supporting role could be a possibility. An interesting turn from a recognised but unlikely star like Damon could have the same effect as Mark Ruffalo’s debut as Bruce Banner in Avengers Assemble.

Heralding from Atlantis itself, Aquaman is also known as Arthur Curry and spends his days as an underwater monarch when he’s not dishing out fish-telepathy-based superheroics. Considering that Aquaman has a reputation as the least cool member of the Justice League, it seems highly unlikely that a standalone film is included in this nine.

Why should it get made? One day this could be a fun way to ape the genre and shake off the dark, gritty staples. For the time being though, don’t count on it.

Likelihood Level: Not very likely at all.

To wrap up, then, there’s 13 strong contenders to the nine movie slots Warner Brothers announced this week, meaning some rumoured DC properties might not get a big screen outing for quite a few years.

If the ‘Likelihood Levels’ approximated in this article are anything to go by (they probably aren’t), we might be able to scrub a new Green Lantern, The Flash’s debut cinematic outing, an Arrow movie and an Aquaman adaptation out of our expectant minds.

That leaves the nine remaining films looking like Man of Steel 3, a Batman standalone story, Fables, Sandman, Shazam, 100 Bullets, Metal Men, a Wonder Woman film and Justice League Dark.

That’s a brave list, which were it come to fruition would show that Warner Bros is willing to try a few different things whilst also attempting to mimic the Marvel Cinematic Universe model. Shazam and the Metal Men seem like the most likely contenders to get dropped in favour of another sequel or reboot for a bigger name further down the line, but for the time being it looks like Warner Brothers and DC are planning some interesting moves, which might just help level the playing field in their ongoing box office battle with Marvel Studios.

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