Big spoilers lie ahead for Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice
Whichever side of the imaginary rivalry you fall into, there’s no denying that when it comes to movies, DC has got some catching up to do. In the same year as Marvel Studios released their first major crossover, The Avengers, Warner Bros released The Dark Knight Rises, the final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Batman trilogy, which was firmly grounded in the notion that Bruce Wayne is the world’s only superhero.
Nolan’s disinterest in the larger DC toybox left Warners a few steps behind Disney and Marvel, especially after the failure of 2010’s Jonah Hex and 2011’s Green Lantern, the latter of which was intended as the first step into a wider universe. On the other hand, they’ve arguably overtaken Marvel on television, with successful shows like Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends Of Tomorrow all up-and-running on The CW (well, Supergirl is about to transfer to The CW).
Nevertheless, Warner Bros is keeping those continuities separate and the franchise that began with 2013’s Man Of Steel is known as the DC Extended Universe. This year’s Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice was criticised in some quarters for trying to do too much to catch up to Marvel, although it still roughly serves as their very own Iron Man 2, a sequel that brings in other characters and broadens the scope of the original to foreshadow an impending crossover in another sequel.
Given all of the uncertainty around the response to the film, the studio’s further plans may change depending on how upcoming films turn out, but as we explored in our Marvel: 11 movies awaiting a greenlight feature, this kind of big-scale development sometimes leaves a number of projects in limbo.
There are countless stories of unmade DC films that Warner Bros had on the go at some point or another – most notoriously, Tim Burton’s Superman Lives, which might at one point have had Michael Keaton reprise the role of Batman and got a cinematic universe started almost two decades ago – but we’ll be looking at the films that have come about in recent years that are just awaiting a greenlight that might feasibly fit into DC and Warners’ current plans.
But even within this Extended Universe, not every film will be necessarily linked. According to Guillermo del Toro, who was attached to one of the movies on this list, Warners have tried to keep films in development outside of the announced release slate separate from the continuity until they know if they want to unify them with the main continuity.
In theory, that could make them a little more flexible, if not all of these mooted films necessarily have to gel with all of the other films, but it also means that we’re less certain about if or when some of these films will happen or not. With that in mind, here are 11 films we might see from DC Entertainment before the end of the decade and beyond, along with our speculation on what form they might take if and when we do.
DC extended universe
Just like Marvel, DC Entertainment has films planned out up until the end of the decade – of the 10 films in the announced ‘blueprint’ of releases from October 2014, Batman V. Superman has been released, and Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and the first Justice League movie are all due in cinemas in the next 18 months.
Films with release dates set between now and 2020 include a second Justice League, Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg, Shazam and Green Lantern Corps, and there are two untitled movies set for release dates in 2018 and 2019. But there are still some projects that haven’t yet made it onto the announced slate.
This is the only cast-iron certainty on the list and we’d bet that it’s going to take one of those two reserved spots for ‘Untitled DC Movies’. With the ongoing popularity of Batman as a character and the largely positive response to Ben Affleck’s portrayal in Batman Vs Superman, it’s a total gimme. Plus, outside of his exploits in tights, Affleck is an Oscar winning writer and director, and Warners has had him in the frame to pull double duties on The Batman (only a working title at this point) ever since they cast him.
We’d imagine that Jeremy Irons and J K Simmons are contracted to appear in this film too, playing Alfred and Commissioner Gordon respectively, and it seems extremely likely that they’ll get on-set care packages from Jared Leto’s Joker too. According to Birth Movies Death, there should also be multiple rogues from the Dark Knight’s extensive gallery, which has led some to speculate that the film’s plot will take its cue from the Rocksteady game Batman: Arkham Asylum.
What’s the hold-up? Affleck has a pivotal role in the DCEU going forward – aside from his cameo in Suicide Squad, the ending of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice set Batman up as the founder of the Justice League and he’ll be needed in those two films, both of which already have release dates. That’s the only thing holding this up – according to his agency, Affleck has already co-written a script with DC’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, so it’s definitely moving. In the meantime, Bat-fans will have next February’s The Lego Batman Movie to keep them going in the “DARKNESS! NO PARENTS!” stakes.
Man Of Steel 2
Batman V Superman was announced in lieu of a Man Of Steel sequel at the San Diego Comic Con in 2013, just a month after the first one was released in cinemas, but that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been talk about a solo sequel since then. In fact, along with The Batman, this was mentioned along with the October 2014 blueprint and so will probably get the other ‘Untitled DC Movie’ slot.
There are many reasons why Superman deserves a Man Of Steel 2, and even within the DCEU, there is still much of this version of the character left to be explored. For instance, we’ve seen him fight General Zod and Lex Luthor, but that was true thirty years ago too – we’ve still yet to see villains like Brainiac in live action, to say nothing of the unfulfilled promise of hope that was built up in the first half of Man Of Steel. The next film was more of a sequel to the second half, in which chaos and destruction reigned, so we hope that WB gives Superman his turn in the spotlight again after Justice League too.
What’s the hold up? For the moment, Superman’s slightly indisposed. The Death Of Superman influenced Batman V Superman‘s ending, leaving Kal-El six feet under as the credits rolled.
Zack Snyder told Entertainment Weekly: “I wanted Bruce Wayne to build the Justice League. I felt like with Superman around, it’s a different conversation when you create the Justice League, right? It’s like, ‘Me and Superman, we want to make a Justice League.’ [Other heroes would be] like, ‘Okay, yeah, I’ll join!’ I just feel like Bruce Wayne having to go out and find these seven samurai by himself, that’s a lot more interesting of a premise.”
Snyder’s future with the DCEU after Justice League is unclear for the time being, so we don’t know if he’d be up for making a Man Of Steel 2 if it does come to pass. However, it’s clear that the sequel is still some way down the road as a result of the choice to accelerate the cinematic universe by bringing in Lex Luthor, Doomsday and Batman in the immediate follow-up.
Another intriguing avenue for Man Of Steel 2 or a spin-off would have been the introduction of Kara Zor-El, Kal-El’s Kryptonian cousin who arrives on Earth and takes up the mantle of Supergirl. Although the DC movies haven’t had many of the context clues and Easter Eggs that typify Marvel’s approach, Man Of Steel had a key scene hint at Supergirl’s arrival.
Inside a Kryptonian scout ship that serves as the film’s equivalent of the Fortress of Solitude, one of four cryo-pods is open, while the other three contain the skeletons of the pilots. The filmmakers have encouraged the popular consensus that Kara got out, especially given her prominence in the official prequel comic. But unless Jena Malone’s cut role turns out to be Kara when the R-rated version comes out, this thread wasn’t picked up in the already very busy Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice.
What’s the hold-up? In all fairness, this one hasn’t been officially announced, but despite the links to Kara in Man Of Steel, any Supergirl development could well have been parlayed into the series starring Melissa Benoist. But the popularity of The Flash on TV isn’t going to stop them doing a new version of the character on the big screen, played by Ezra Miller instead of Grant Gustin, so maybe we’ll see it down the line. As it stands, the last big-screen incarnation of Supergirl was Kristen Bell, in a sketch from the dreadful comedy anthology Movie 43.
Despite the separation of movies and television, DC TV producer Greg Berlanti told the Hollywood Reporter last week that there’s a Booster Gold movie in development that he might direct, from a script by Zack Stentz, whose previous credits include Thor and X-Men: First Class. Although it hasn’t officially been announced or dated by Warners, we’d expect that this might be a part of the studio’s drive for lighter and more comedic angles after the negative response to their more serious films.
The character is Michael Jon Carter, a shameless self-promoter from the 25th century who travels back in time to become a superhero using gadgets he stole from a superhero museum. The Justice League doesn’t take him seriously and maybe he could be at the front of a rather more irreverent film than the kind that DC has put out thus far, perhaps as their own answer to this year’s surprise hit Deadpool.
What’s the hold-up? We haven’t known about this one for long enough to see that there is a hold-up – perhaps it’ll even overtake The Batman or Man Of Steel 2, depending on how the next few movies turn out, but at the same time, they’ve put an awful lot of effort into that frowny face so far, so we’ll have to see if Booster Gold is the first sign of them cracking a smile. Mercifully, the character should avoid the fate that befalls him in The Death Of Superman, given how they’ve already got that story out of their system.
The other potential Deadpool-in-waiting at DC is Lobo, the alien mercenary biker who was intended as a pastiche of how Marvel has gotten grim and gritty with characters like Wolverine and the Punisher in the 1980s, but went onto become part of the anti-heroic trend of comic book protagonists at the time. He’s apparently Stan Lee’s favourite DC Comics character too.
As the synopsis for Warners’ planned film version had it back in 2010, “Lobo is a seven-foot tall, blue-skinned, indestructible and heavily muscled anti-hero who drives a pimped out motorcycle, and lands on Earth in search of four fugitives who are bent on wreaking havoc. Lobo teams with a small town teenage girl to stop the creatures.”
What’s the hold-up? Guy Ritchie was set to direct the film in 2010, but he left the project to make Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows instead. Afterwards, Brad Peyton was attached to direct with frequent collaborator Dwayne Johnson tipped to play Lobo. However, Johnson has since committed to star as another anti-hero, Black Adam, in Shazam, set for release on 5th April 2019. As of March this year, Wonder Woman‘s Jason Fuchs was writing a new script, but there is currently no star or director attached – perhaps they should get Stan Lee to do a cameo.
DC’s slate is nothing if not eclectic – who would have thought that we’d see a Suicide Squad movie in cinemas before a Justice League movie? Whether they turn out to be a part of the DCEU or not, there have been a number of other team movies in development at the studio over the years.
Justice League Dark
As part of the company’s New 52 reboot, the Justice League Dark came together after the Justice League proper were defeated by Enchantress, and a taskforce dedicated to fighting supernatural forces was formed from the likes of Constantine, Swamp Thing, Madame Xanadu, Deadman and Zatanna. The original series was published from 2011 to 2015 and it was in 2012 that we first heard whispers of Guillermo del Toro working on a film version, with the working title of Heaven Sent.
As per del Toro’s comment about the unity or otherwise of DC’s upcoming films, we don’t know if this one is designed to be a part of the DCEU or not, but some ofthe elements are there to do a straight adaptation of the comic if they wanted to. Suicide Squad will introduce Cara Delevingne as Enchantress and even if she doesn’t take down Batman, Superman et al in a future film, she could well be the antagonist for a Justice League Dark movie.
What’s the hold-up? As one of the busiest and most creative people in film, there are countless films that Guillermo del Toro has talked about and not got around to making yet. Still, he was vocally enthusiastic about the film throughout development, talking about how it might cross over with Man Of Steel and/or the now cancelled TV series Constantine, starring Matt Ryan. However, Warner Bros moved this and several of their other Vertigo adaptations over to New Line Cinema last year and del Toro had moved on to Crimson Peak and producing the forthcoming Pacific Rim sequel, and there isn’t another filmmaker currently attached.
The Metal Men
The Metal Men are a team of six artificially intelligent robots who share physical and personal properties with their elemental namesakes of Gold, Iron, Lead, Mercury, Platinum and Tin. Their creator Dr. Will Magnus despatches them on missions and is able to rebuild them from their individual Responsometers, which retain their personalities if they are destroyed.
Vulture reported that director Barry Sonnenfeld was attached to a film version in 2012 and it’s been a bit quiet since then. However, Diane Nelson, Warner Bros’ brand manager for superheroes and President of DC Entertainment, has listed the characters amongst the properties she’d most like to see get their own movie.
What’s the hold-up? The Metal Men as a movie seems to pre-date the plans for the DCEU, so it remains to be seen if they could fit back into the new vision of the world. Cyborg factors into their alternative origins in their New 52 incarnation, wherein the Metal Men are created when the US military approaches Magnus to build a rescue team, but they go on the run to avoid being deployed as assassins. If they don’t get their own film, maybe they might factor into Cyborg or, even further down the road, a potential sequel.
A group of young sidekicks originally made up this junior Justice League, including Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad and Wonder Girl. Other sidekicks like Superboy and Speedy and original characters like Cyborg, Starfire and Raven also joined, and the comics hew close to the theme of teenage superheroes learning to accept adult responsibilities.
A film version of the popular series first came up in 2007, to be written by Akiva Goldsman and Mark Verheiden, in which Robin was the only confirmed character. Given how Cyborg will be immediately promoted to the Justice League in his big-screen debut, later reports have had him as the founding member.
What’s the hold-up? While it makes sense to lead off Teen Titans from Cyborg, Batman V Superman has established that there’s some Robin-related baggage that should probably be dealt with in a solo Batman film first, before they introduce a new Robin anywhere else. This is probably one for the 2020s and, again, you can imagine it being lighter than what has come so far.
Not every DC project on the table is going to be a part of the DCEU – some of the Vertigo titles have been moved over to New Line as Warners concentrates on their main franchise, while other acclaimed properties are still in development independently of Batman, Superman and the others.
There aren’t any superheroes in Fables, but it was another wishlist project for Nelson, who was formerly the brand manager for Harry Potter and sees similar franchise potential in the Eisner-winning fairytale and folklore series set in Fabletown. The clandestine community in New York City is home to a number of public domain characters, including Cinderella, Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf.
US networks NBC and ABC each had the rights to TV versions in 2005 and 2008, but neither made it past the scripting stage. On the movie side of things, Warners attempted to make a film version with the Jim Henson Company, but it didn’t get far. In 2013, director Nikolaj Arcel was tapped to bring Fables to the screen from a script by Jeremy Slater, Jeffrey Clifford and Harry Potter producer David Heyman.
What’s the hold-up? NBC and ABC both turned down the series version, only to pick up similar fairytale themed shows Grimm and Once Upon A Time. Nelson saw Harry Potter potential in Fables, but as WB now has new Harry Potter movies on the way, starting with November’s Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, it would be ironic if it’s yet again pipped by a similar take. But the two needn’t be mutually exclusive and although Arcel is likely to be busy with The Dark Tower for the foreseeable future (especially if the first film does well enough to secure the rest of the series), this one could well happen with support from the right people.
This Vertigo comic would be very far removed from the DCEU. The pulpy noir series centres around a shady agency that gives ordinary people the chance to exact violent revenge without consequences, by means of a handgun and 100 untraceable bullets. The main agent, Graves, is revealed to be part of a larger scheme as the series goes on.
Although the format might suggest a more televisual story structure with different gunmen each week, 100 Bullets was amongst a number of projects listed for development in a 2014 Wall Street Journal article about upcoming films in development. Last we heard, Tom Hardy was on board to produce the project at New Line Cinema, with an option to star in the film too.
What’s the hold-up? You can’t have failed to notice that the gun issue is still too hot at the moment. David S. Goyer had a TV series ready to rock at Showtime a few years ago, but it hit the buffers after a spate of mass shootings across America.
“It’s very much about America’s obsession with gun culture, because most of the guns don’t end up helping the people that use them,” Goyer told Ain’t It Cool in 2013. “It got very, very close, and it was frustrating… it got to the three-yard line.”
Movies don’t typically have as much of a problem with representing guns, glorified or otherwise – 2008’s Wanted comes to mind as a comic book movie that was primarily about guns – but for obvious reasons, executives might be sensitive about pulling the trigger.
The word ‘unadaptable’ used to be bandied around a lot in relation to complex source material, but after we’ve seen films like Watchmen, Cloud Atlas and Life Of Pi, that seems like a fairly low bar to clear. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman has acquired its reputation after various film and television adaptations failed to materialise since the late 1990s and Gaiman himself has long said that he’d “rather see no Sandman movie made than a bad Sandman movie.”
The comic series is about Morpheus, the physical manifestation of dreams and one of seven entities known as the Endless, who sets about rebuilding his kingdom of dreams after a long period in captivity. It’s officially part of the DC universe, although other characters seldom cross into the story, so this would be firmly distinctive from the ongoing DCEU.
What’s the hold-up? In 2014, Goyer announced that he and Gaiman would be producing a film adaptation with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, independent of the up-and-coming DCEU. Gordon-Levitt was also mooted to star and direct and Jack Thorne was writing the script- for a while there, it looked like it was finally going to happen.
Alas, Gordon-Levitt dropped out over creative differences with the studio this year, after the project was moved over to New Line Cinema. Despite Goyer, Gaiman and Warners being happy with Thorne’s script, they brought in Eric Heisserer, best known for 2010’s A Nightmare On Elm Street and 2011’s The Thing, to administer rewrites.
While there hasn’t been any more movement on the film since, there are plenty of other undeveloped DC movies that fell by the wayside after key talents dropped out. But given the amount of development that has gone into it, this still strikes us as the next Watchmen – a film based on an acclaimed comic that will eventually divide audiences when it arrives on the big screen.
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