Almost everything at WB is up in the air these days. New CEO David Zaslav quickly went from anonymous executive to nemesis of both film and superhero fans, first by cancelling the almost completed movie Batgirl, then by holding a presentation that proposed a “male skew” to HBO Max and a “female skew” to Discovery+ (followed by a slide that included the cursed words “90-Day Fiancé Universe”). This point of turmoil means that nothing from the studio is safe, even fan-favorite superhero films.
These shakeups have left questions about the status of the Snyderverse, the series of movies spanning out of the Zack Snyder-directed Man of Steel and its sequels, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. Conventional wisdom would suggest that the Snyderverse is very much intact. Not only did the studio only recently invest millions in letting the director complete Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa’s characters Wonder Woman and Aquaman have spun-off into commercially and critically successful solo films, and Ben Affleck’s Batman is slated to appear in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (reportedly taking the place of Michael Keaton’s Batman). While Ezra Miller’s crimes continue to draw attention, WB seems to be going ahead on their solo film The Flash, too.
Despite these machinations, other events have suggested a move away from the Snyderverse. The latest comes via unidentified sources in a WB roundup from Variety. “Privately, studio insiders have lamented that Zack Snyder’s Justice League never should’ve happened,” the article reported. What was intended as an attempt to build fan trust and enthusiasm for WB had the opposite effect. “Rather than quiet the unceasing online campaigning to #ReleasetheSnyderCut,” the article stated, “the four-hour HBO Max feature only further entrenched the vocal and extremely online ‘Snyderverse’ fanbase in opposition to the leadership at the studio in general and at DC in particular.”
This revelation follows several reports that have thrown doubt on the viability of the Snyderverse, including DC Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee stating that there are no plans for more Snyderverse films. When combined with a history of harassment by fans and the director’s idiosyncratic style, evidence mounts against continuing the franchise.
Of course, none of this is to suggest that WB is doing away with the shared universe model. Stand-alone films Joker and The Batman may be the studio’s biggest hits, and the sequel Joker: Folie à Deux is already in production. But Variety reminded readers that Zaslav seeks a Kevin Feige-type figure to shepherd a shared universe in the MCU model. The article indicated The Lego Batman Movie producer Dan Lin and former Paramount motion picture group president Emma Watts as key contenders. It’s too early to say what this shared universe could be, but it seems increasingly clear that WB is leaving the Snyderverse behind.