Earlier today, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara appeared at something called Time Warner Investor Day with two clear goals: appease the company’s investors, and steal some of Disney-Marvel’s thunder. That last part definitely worked on me. After all, today was going to be when I put together my thoughts on the prospect of a Captain America 3 co-starring Iron Man as the start of a loose adaptation of the Civil War storyline from the comics that resulted in Cap’s death and made Iron Man a quasi-villain. That is some insane, next-level rumor right there, one which appeared to break the internet when it leaked yesterday. Now, here’s Warner Bros. just blind-siding us with confirmation of every single DC movie they have planned through 2020:
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice directed by Zack Snyder
- Suicide Squad directed by David Ayer (Fury), talking to 4 A-List actors to star
- Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot
- Justice League Part One directed by Snyder, with Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams reprising their roles
- The Flash starring Ezra Miller
- Aquaman starring Jason Momoa
- Justice League Part Two directed by Zack Snyder
- Cyborg starring Ray Fisher (2020)
- Green Lantern (2020)
Plus, Batman and Superman are in line for potential solo films which are not currently dated. Moving (mostly) outside of the superhero game, they also confirmed that there will be 3 new Lego movies, a Ninjago spin-off, Lego Batman spin-off, and Lego Movie 2, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beats & Where To Find Them will indeed be a trilogy as previously rumored:
Whoa. This is heavy. There are going to be two Justice League movies now, not just one, and they’re both being directed by Zack Snyder! Wonder Woman is getting her own solo movie in 2017, meaning, suck it Black Widow, Wonder Woman will be the first to get a female superhero solo film! There’s not only going to be a solo Flash movie, but they’ve actually already cast the part and it’s not the guy playing him on the TV show! In addition to the Aquaman and Shazam films we thought we were getting there are also going to be ones about Cyborg and Green Lantern! Before they get to any of those, though, they’re going to just jump straight ahead to Suicide Squad meaning probably none of its supervillains-turned-mercenaries will have been introduced prior to the film!
As I take all of this in I can’t help but think of that time Sony announced release dates for Amazing Spider-Man 2, 3, and 4, and hired an odd cabal of writers (most of them from the J.J. Abrams writing/producing family tree) to master-mind not just those straight sequels but also spin-offs centered around The Sinister Six and Venom. That didn’t go so well. At last check, Amazing Spider-Man 3 has now been delayed at least 2 years, Venom is presumed dead, Sinister Six is coming out in 2016, and where they go from there is the subject of insane rumors such as possibly dropping Andrew Garfield and re-casting the role and/or loaning the character out to Marvel for one of the forthcoming Avengers sequels. All of that because Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a rather pronounced stink of box office and creative disaster on it even though it made over $700 million worldwide.
That leads me to cynically write all of this off as something that can quickly fall apart if Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice doesn’t perform to expectations as it seriously seems like they are repeating most of the mistakes Sony made with Amazing Spider-Man 2 (focus on making a good movie first, not something which is merely a trailer for a larger cinematic universe). However, it’s much easier for Sony to push Amazing Spider-Man 3 back a couple of years before they’ve ever gone into production on it. The sheer practicality of production schedules would tell you that at the very least Warner Bros. is going to have to be pretty locked into making Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, and probably Justice League: Part One regardless of what Batman v Superman does at the worldwide box office.
Warner Bros. is not Sony. They pretty much exclusively swing for the fences, a go-big-or-go-home mentality one learns to live by when they’ve been spoiled by a steady diet of Harry Potter sequels and Christopher Nolan Batman movies. Without those safety blankets, they’ve been striking out far too often lately, revenue down 15% year-to-year right now, and now their corporate parent, Time Warner, is downsizing and administering lay-offs across the board. Now is not the time to take risks on original properties; now is a time to crank out what’s worked in the past. So, we are looking at a half-decade of super hero movies taking their lead from Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, which is either the best or worst thing possible for a DC enthusiast.
Perhaps the weirdest part of this story, though, is the method which WB decided to drop this. They did it a meeting for stock market investors. The confusing confirmation that they have now cast two different people to play Flash, Grant Gustin on TV and Perks of Being a Wallflower’s Ezra Miller on film came at the same time that the CEO was bragging, “In TV, WB has been the No. 1 studio for 11 of last 12 seasons, including this year. In theatricals, No. 1 or 2 in domestic box office for 9 of last 10 years. Home entertainment, No. 1 in DVD sales for 17 years…and digital is growing.”
That types of sales-charts-back-slapping is perfectly at home in that environment, but the accompanying superhero film announcements should have been done in a way to directly engage fans, like at New York Comic-Con just this last weekend. They also didn’t have to drop all of this on us at once. It could have been better to space out announcements about to each project to give us time to breath and process the news, building up excitement and giving the DC film universe a sense of positive momentum. As Devin at BadAssDigest argued, they way they went with instead feels like “how you disclose documents in a lawsuit to keep your opponent off-kilter-give them every piece you have, hoping the abundance of material makes them miss the information that is damning to you!”
Incidentally, if you want plot spoilers Devin advances the rumors that Braniac will be the Justice League Part One villain and Darkseid the villain of the Part Two villain, with pretty much all of the Justice League characters except for Green Lantern having already been introduce in some capacity in Batman v Superman.
Much was made a couple of days ago out of a recent Robert Downey, Jr. interview in which our reigning Iron Man claimed, “Honestly, [the comic book movie fad] is just showing the beginning signs of fraying around the edges. It’s a little bit old.” Well, Warner Bros. is pretty clearly responding, “Burnout? What burnout? Comic book movies will never die, you hear me. Never!” The way they officially announced as much at an Investors meeting is not a great first step, but, damn, these are some ambitious sobs.
Please, please, please, Batman v Superman, don’t suck. I, mean, we’re still going to get at least a couple of other DC films no matter what, but they’d be a lot easier to look forward to if Batman v Superman turns out to be kind of awesome. Is that asking too much?
No, seriously, I’m not just throwing out there for no reason. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.