The entertainment news world was sent into a frenzy on Tuesday when late in the day the news emerged that not only was Warner Bros. seeking to launch a Martin Scorsese produced Joker origin film, but was seeking to begin a brand new banner of independent DC Comics based films separate from the current DC Extended Universe.
Setting the Joker part aside, as that is a can of worms all on it’s own that could be could but could also be bad as it demystifies a character that works best as a mysterious force of chaos, the second banner of films is really the biggest bit of the news.
Back in 2013 after the launch of Man of Steel, the first Superman film from WB since the very mixed reception Superman Returns, Warner Bros. decided to start work on building their own shared universe of films similar to the one that Marvel Studios had been running successfully since 2008. This was a big departure for the studio that had been making films of DC Characters for decades, all of them stand alone films or series.
They were not the only ones to do this recently of course, as the Marvel formula became one that many studios felt the need to emulate with their franchises even though the idea of a shared universe of films was not a Marvel creation. It was just something that Marvel dusted off and perfected.
Since they began the DC Extended Universe Warner Bros. has been met with a lot more failure than success, even if they have still brought in a tidy profit along the way. While Man of Steel was sort of divisive on it’s debut, the follow up films Batman V. Superman: Dawn of the Justice and Suicide Squad are so divisive that even a year later there are still battles between fans and non-fans about if the films are good or not.
Wonder Woman this summer was truly the first real full success of the DCEU as it met with mostly positive reception and continues to bring in a lot of money at the box office even months after it first hit theaters. At the point of this writing it has even surpassed the first Spider-Man film in box office numbers.
So with the DCEU possibly finally finding it’s footing, why would Warner Bros. decide they need a second banner of DC films that will feature characters that are in the DCEU but with different actors and different continuity?
Simple, Warner Bros. wants to have their cake and eat it too as the old saying goes.
As mentioned before the studio made a lot of success over the years with their stand alone style series from the Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight Trilogy to the early 90’s Batman films and the first two Christopher Reeves films. But now as part of the shared Universe the two characters they used to bank on over and over, Batman and Superman, have not really delivered the way they used to.
Justice League is undergoing a lot of reshoots at the moment, and has been for months, with Joss Whedon taking over for the departing Zack Snyder (who left the film with his wife to deal with a personal matters) with rumors circling that the new scenes are meant to lighten the film & it’s ending a bit after the success of Wonder Woman.
With so much up in the air about the future of the DCEU and if it will be received well seems to have caused a thing where WB wants to have both the shared universe but also another set of films that follow the old model.
In one way this is a thing that could end up good for fans as it will allow adaptations of storylines that might not fit into the DCEU, and could bring in directors that maybe don’t want to take part in a shared universe but want to do a comic book film that stands on it’s own like Nolan did with Batman.
Through this we could get the rumored Red Son Superman story as a film, a Booster Gold/Blue Beetle film that fans have been calling for over the years and it could offer a solution to rumored Batman issues. Earlier this summer rumors began to surface that WB wanted to part ways with Ben Affleck and move on from his Batman in the still young DCEU.
So far those rumors are just that, rumors, but this new banner could allow the studio to move on from Batman in the DCEU and recast Batman but go back to Batman films standing alone. That way recasting Batman doesn’t make things odd in the DCEU because his films would be their own thing.
Which sounded almost unbelievable at first with all the time they spent building Batman up in the DCEU, but now Matt Reeves has seemingly suggested that his The Batman film could essentially be a stand alone film separate from the DCEU.
And that right there is what spins into why this could be a really bad idea.
Effectively Warner Bros. would be creating competition for themselves. Right now you are likely saying something about “but Flash, Arrow, Gotham and others all appear on TV and that’s not hurting the films,” or something similar.
That is correct. There are multiple worlds of DC characters that appear across the TV screens opposite of the films, but really they are not competition.
Television and films are not really fully competing mediums because you can still watch all of them separately. I can go see The Flash on the big screen and then also watch the latest The Flash episodes on TV when I get home.
Where the competition comes in for this new banner of DC films and the DCEU is that if this new banner starts to get more of a focus and gets the bigger names and proves more successful it could essentially cut the legs out from under the still barely formed DCEU.
Sure Warner Bros. could be seeing it as a way to play it safe, as I mentioned above, where they do the shared universe thing but also do stand alone films that might do better, but it could be a thing that leads to one of those sides failing.
If both go well,we the fans end up winning as we can see more of our favorite DC characters.
If the stand alone films do better than the DCEU, it could see the universe that many have begun to find themselves invested in begin to crumble away.
As of right now the only films that we know are for sure coming in the DCEU are this year’s Justice League, next fall’s Aquaman and likely Shazam! coming in early 2019. After that everything is up in the air with a slate of films that supposedly will be produced for the DCEU.
So while this new banner of films could be good news, let us hope it’s not the nail that begins to seal up the coffin of the DCEU.