THE FUTURE OF DC & WARNER BROS
With the start of a new year comes new speculation on what DC’s plans are for the future. While Marvel Studios announces a slate of films years in advance, Warner Bros has been taking a wait and see approach after the underwhelming performances of Batman V Superman and Justice League. However, with the success of the Wonder Woman and Aquaman, Warner Bros might start taking more chances again.
Hitting theaters April 5th, this year’s DC summer tentpole movie will be Shazam! The film follows 14-year-old Billy Batson, an orphan who is gifted super powers by an ancient wizard. When he utters the word “Shazam!” Billy turns into a muscular adult superhero similar to Superman. With the help of his foster brother Freddy, Billy must master these powers to fight the forces of evil.
Fans were surprised when Shazam! was announced as DC’s next superhero film. It has not been an active title in years and its most recent incarnation was as a back-up comic to the New 52 Justice League. However, Shazam! did have a Saturday morning kids show from 1974 to 1976 and its premise would appeal to a younger audience not yet jaded by decades of superhero films.
Shazam! could be DC’s next Aquaman. An underestimated superhero whose film takes audiences by surprise. So, the success of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam! would be a clear sign Warner Bros understands what fans and the general public want.
Warner Bros second DC film will be Joker, hitting theaters October 4th. This movie will be a huge departure from previous DC films. It had a $55 million budget compared to the $150 to $200-million-dollar budget of Aquaman and will not connect to any other DC films. Rumors are that Batman and Joker will have a family connection. So, Joker may actually diverge wildly from known Batman lore.
Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck and takes place in 1981. It will show how failed comedian Arthur Fleck transforms into the chaotic criminal known as the Joker. Besides Phoenix, the film stars Zazie Beets as Sophie Dumond, a single mother and Arthur’s love interest, Robert De Niro as talk show host Murray Franklin, Dante Pereira-Olson as a young Bruce Wayne, and Brett Cullen as Bruce’s father Thomas.
JOKER THE FUTURE OF SUPERHERO MOVIES?
2019’s Joker could be extremely controversial with Batman fans, but it could also bring in big money for such as small investment. If Joker is a box office success, it could be the start of a whole new series of superhero films. Movies with big franchise names but no connections to other films. This would allow writers and directors to go in new directions without having to worry about continuity.
It would also allow actors to sign-up for big superhero roles without fear of being tied to a franchise for years. One of the rumored disagreements between Warner Bros and Henry Cavill over him continuing to be Superman, is Cavill’s inability to take on other roles. Even a small cameo, like the one planned for Shazam! could prevent an actor from doing another project. There are currently no plans for a Superman solo film in the near future, so it would be unwise for a popular Hollywood star like Cavill to tie himself down.
SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON 2019
Expect the summer of 2019 to have big announcements for the future of DC films. Warner Bros will undoubtedly promote Joker and 2020’s Wonder Woman 1984 and Birds of Prey at San Diego Comic-Con. At last year’s SDCC Warner Bros premiered a trailer for Shazam! So, a teaser trailer for Birds of Prey could be a possibility. Birds of Prey hits theaters February 7, 2020 and Wonder Woman 1984 comes out June 5, 2020.
BATMAN NEWS FOR 2019
2019 may finally be the year Warner Bros announces the next Batman film. Ever since Justice League, there has been speculation Ben Affleck would leave the role or Warner Bros would fire him. Director Matt Reeves has been working on a screenplay for the Batman solo film since mid-2017, after his previous film War for the Planet of the Apes released.
The next big film currently in development at Warner Bros is Supergirl. After the major success of Wonder Woman, the addition of the Girl of Steel is an easy call. The big questions for the movie are: Is Superman going to be involved? And if so, who will be playing him? And will the film connect to a larger DC Universe? While Aquaman is a sequel to Justice League, the events of the previous film were only mentioned once in passing. Without that callback, Aquaman would be a completely stand-alone film.
As for Superman, the current Supergirl television show did not initially handle his absence well. The idea that Superman would leave his cousin alone to fight criminals from their home planet seemed ridiculous. The show introducing him and having him help out with bigger problems solved that. So, a cameo from the Big Blue Boyscout would help give the film credibility.
2021 AND BEYOND
With 2020 already staked out, Warner Bros should be announcing the next round of films soon. Other films in the Warner Bros pipeline are Suicide Squad 2 and The New Gods, based on the comic book series of the same name. If Shazam! does well at the box office, Warner Bros might fast track the Black Adam movie that was previously attached to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Other films early in development include Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, and a rebooted Green Lantern.
Films unlikely to be mentioned are The Flash, Lobo, and Nightwing. They appear to have stalled and become lower priorities for the studio, which is going in a new direction to reinvigorate the DC franchise. Lesser known titles like Plastic Man and The New Gods, will be less scrutinized by fans and allow filmmakers more personal creativity.