Despite releasing a trailer promising that 2022 would be “The Age of Heroes“, it’s been a strange year for DC films. March saw the release of The Batman, a more cerebral take on the dark knight that was originally meant to feature Ben Affleck’s version from the DCEU. The only other live-action DC movie to release this year is Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson’s anti-hero. Sequels to Aquaman, Shazam! and the long-delayed The Flash film have all been pushed to 2023 releases, leaving DC League of Superpets as the only other DC film releasing in 2022.
The New Warner Brothers President and CEO, David Zaslav, has made some very controversial decisions. After cancelling several projects at various stages of production, including Batgirl, Zaslav has confirmed that there is a 10-year plan in place for the DCEU going forward. With DC feeling they are treading water, and the confusing place of the Snyder Cut in the universe, what exactly is the plan?
The Original Plan
The DCEU has taken many detours from its original plan. Originally supposed to begin with Green Lantern in 2011, this was scrapped due to the film’s poor reception. Instead, it began with Man of Steel in 2013, with Zack Snyder kicking off the universe before other directors took over for different heroes. A planned sequel was morphed into Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which kicked off the universe and hastily introduced heroes in a quick scene. David Ayer’s Suicide Squad meant that two out of the three entries had received poor reviews, prompting WB to rethink their plans. Justice League had an infamously troubled production, resulting in the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement.
Had things followed this plan, Justice League would have been the first of a trilogy, eventually culminating in the heroes battling Darkseid and Superman being controlled via the Anti-life equation. Heroes would get standalone movies in between these team-ups, while other heroes would be introduced. In the aftermath of Justice League, many films were delayed or cancelled, and the ones that have been released since have little connection or reference to previous entries. Entries that have included references to other heroes have been vague, with Shazam! and Peacemaker using stand-ins for members of the Justice League in cameos.
After the release of the Snyder Cut, some fans were hoping that the original plan would continue, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. For one thing, it’s not entirely clear which version of the film is “canon”. The status of some characters is up in the air, such as Henry Cavill’s Superman and Ben Affleck’s Batman is unknown, with varying reports on whether the actors will return. WB reportedly regrets the Snyder Cut, so it is unlikely that the Snyderverse will continue, but it’s possible The Flash will fix some continuity issues. It also seems likely that the sequels to Shazam! and Aquaman will happen, as these were both critically and commercially successful. Third entries are also likely planned, with Shazam being teased to fight Black Adam, and Aquaman grossing over $1 Billion.
The Current State
DC seems to be taking an Elseworlds approach, with some films not part of the main DCEU. Three different versions of Batman are heading to cinemas, with Robert Pattinson, Ben Affleck and Micheal Keaton all appearing in various projects. Keaton is appearing in The Flash reprising his role from the Tim Burton films, hinting at the film’s multiverse jumping. Affleck is also set to appear in some capacity, as his Batman from the main DCEU, and may appear in the Aquaman sequel. Pattinson meanwhile appears to be his own thing (despite originally being a younger version of Affleck). A Joker sequel is also in the works, although this will also likely be its own thing, like the first.
Various other projects have been announced at various stages of development, with some stuck in development hell for years. A third Wonder Woman seems a sure bet, while Cyborg announced as part of the original plan in 2014, seems much less likely. Films based on Static Shock, Nightwing, Lobo, Black Canary and New Gods have all been announced, some with stars or directors attached, but many of these were announced years ago with no news since. A Man Of Steel sequel has been in the works for years, but it is unclear if Cavill will return.
Dwayne Johnson seems to be hyping up Black Adam as the main face of the universe going forward, stating that the “hierarchy” is about to change. Johnson has also teased a battle with Superman “depending on who’s playing him”, suggesting this project hasn’t been signed off on yet. WB’s reaction to the Ezra Miller situation suggests that The Flash is a big part of whatever the plan is, suggesting it could lead to a semi-reboot. It’s also been hinted that DC is going to take cues from the MCU, which is currently in the “Multiverse Saga”, which further supports this. Hopefully, when these two have been released we will have a clearer picture of the future of the DCEU.
Also Read: Who Will Replace Ezra Miller As The Flash?