After years of fan demand, and an extra $70 million in post-production, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has arrived. Finally allowing him to finish the story he began in 2013 with Man of Steel. Reception to the extended cut has been mostly positive, and far kinder than the theatrical cut. It has also prompted some fans to take up the call of #RestoreTheSnyderVerse, in an effort to get more films following this storyline. With some fans going as far as review-bombing Warner Brothers’ Godzilla Vs Kong, and DC moving away from this version, what is the future of the DCEU?
What’s The Current Plan?
DC Films have a strange relationship with shared universe continuity. Recently, the trailer for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad went online. Acting as a sort of sequel, but sort of not to the original film. Returning characters such as Harley Quinn, Rick Flagg and Amanda Waller feature alongside new ones, with the potential for them to be killed of. Shazam! featured easter eggs and references to the events of other films in the universe. WW84, being set in the ’80s and as a prequel to her other appearances, only refers back to her original film.
Originally, The Batman was to star (as well as be directed by) Ben Affleck and focus on his version of the character. However the film will now focus on a new version, played by Robert Pattinson, and Jared Leto was replaced by Joaquin Phoenix for the standalone Joker (he won an Oscar for his portrayal). There hasn’t been any indication that these two films will connect, with the different settings meaning Pattinson could face a completely different Joker.
Shared Universe Vs Multiverse
Originally, it seemed like DC was going to follow in Marvel’s footsteps with a shared universe. Justice League was to lead into several solo movies, as well as part two and three. But with most of those films stuck in development hell and no word on a Justice League sequel, those plans are up in the air. Some character’s fates are uncertain, with no word on whether we will get another Superman with Henry Cavill, or the previously announced Cyborg solo outing.
The current lineup for DC films, only features two following characters from Justice League (Not including Batman, who is recast) Aquaman 2 and The Flash. Of those, The Flash is more likely to refer to it, as this version has not appeared since (barring a cameo on the TV show). Interestingly, if WB decides they are going to continue with the “shared universe” model, The Flash could be the one to do it, especially if the rumours of it being based on “Flashpoint” are true.
However, in an interview with Variety, WarnerMedia CEO Ann Sarnoff seemed to indicate that they would be moving away from that model. The Snyder Cut appears to be the end of that particular story, but other versions and new heroes will feature. It still sounds like they will crossover with each other and other media too.
Moving away from the “shared universe” actually sounds like the best thing for DC. Aside from the diehard fans, the films have had largely mixed receptions from audiences and critics. Whereas the standalone entries have been much better received. It frees up filmmakers from having to follow along with a plan, and instead focus on their own project. As a side effect, it also reduces comparisons to the MCU, which has sometimes been criticised for how overwhelming it can be to keep up with.
Adopting an “Elseworlds” model allows each film to be wildly different from each other. Looking at the trailers. it doesn’t seem like The Batman and The Suicide Squad take place in the same universe. It’s hard to picture Pattinson’s Batman going up against Starro. Likewise, this doesn’t stop them from crossing over occasionally, with Michael Keaton’s Batman supposedly appearing in The Flash. It really seems like DC might be doing exactly what they should have done all along.