As we heard yesterday with plans to only release an Aquaman sequel in 2022, Warner Bros’ roadmap for their DC Expanded Universe has seen a huge about-face. Inspired by the efforts of Jason Momoa’s billion-dollar Atlantean hero as well as Gal Gadot’s beloved Wonder Woman solo film, WB is cooling their jets on trying to rush headlong into big team-ups or movies that all have the same grim tone.
As Kevin Tsujihara, CEO of Film and TV at WB revealed to The Los Angeles Times during an extensive interview, they’re looking to expand the universe beyond the scope of the big two names of Batman and Superman. They’re also no longer afraid to take some chances on filmmakers and characters that may not be the most obvious picks, but present the opportunity for a strong creative vision.
What [director] Patty Jenkins did on Wonder Woman illustrated to us what you could do with these characters who are not Batman and Superman. Obviously, we want to get those two in the right place, and we want strong movies around Batman and Superman, but Aquaman is a perfect example of what we can do. They’re each unique and the tone’s different in each movie.
It still boggles my mind that we live in a world where a solo Superman movie, a Superman/Batman team-up movie, and a Justice League team-up movie, all got utterly outmuscled both critically and at the box office by Wonder Woman and Aquaman. For years we had to hear from execs that nobody wanted to see those characters up on the big screen and look at them now. Those sort of unexpected choices is what Tsujihara and co want to more of. To do that, they’ve looked to inspired picks, like Todd Phillips making a serious Joker movie, but they’re confident that they’ve finally found the right recipe to success.
The upcoming slate, with Shazam, Joker, Wonder Woman 1984 and Birds of Prey, feels like we’re on the right track. We have the right people in the right jobs working on it.
Originally there had been some rumours that we may see a Superman cameo in the upcoming Shazam!, but those were swiftly shut down. In fact, as far as we can tell the only links Shazam! has to other DCEU movies before it
The universe isn’t as connected as we thought it was going to be five years ago. You’re seeing much more focus on individual experiences around individual characters. That’s not to say we won’t at some point come back to that notion of a more connected universe. But it feels like that’s the right strategy for us right now.
Much like how the DC Comics universe regularly gets rebooted (sometimes a full, reality-wiping hard reset, other times a more softer pruning), we’ve definitely reached a new age in the DCEU. The folks up top finally seem to be making all the right noises, and I’m rather intrigued to see what is coming.
Last Updated: March 1, 2019
For the Emperor!
March 1, 2019 at 09:29
They rushed it. MCU was built over time with good solo movies. They wanted a home run on their first date. Glad they are “on the right track” now, but it might have cost them Batfleck and SuperCavil.
Alien Emperor Trevor
March 1, 2019 at 08:50
Finally. Make cool movies that people will want to see – what a shock that must’ve been to the execs when they figured it out.
Worry about all the interconnected universe stuff later, once people are invested.
March 1, 2019 at 09:04
Took them long enough to realise Marvel’s recipe works well.
March 1, 2019 at 09:45
It really is as simple as: Acknowledge that each of the JL heroes have their own personalities, desires, and drives. If you are writing a solo character story, and you see some potential for crossover, consider if you can add it without ruining the original intent of the story. If so, why not just have some fun and do it?
Even the MCU suffered with this, where their Phase 2 movies, a post-Avengers world mind you, had heroes still just solving their own problems instead of roping in their friends. Phase 3 fixed this, with nearly every movie having at least *some* crossover. Thor Ragnarok did this perfectly, throwing in the Hulk and Dr Strange in a realistic fashion that fit the narrative perfectly. That’s why it’s a fun watch, because there’s two fewer characters you need to flesh out while still getting the benefit of their personalities in your solo character movie.
Have Batman in a Flash movie. Put Wonder Woman in an Aquaman movie. The only rule is that it must make sense for that character to be there at that point in time. That’s really it.