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Forget About Nightwing and Batman. Worry More About Justice League, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

I might as well pull a page from The Simpsons and call this post “Old Man Yells at Cloud” because I feel like an old, Grandpa Simpson-esque crank when it comes to Warner Bros.’ DC Extended Universe. The latest, as you likely already know, is that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Matt Reeves has officially signed on to produce and direct Ben Affleck’s The Batman, and Lego Batman Movie director Chris McKay is now developing a live-action Nightwing movie with The Accountant’s Bill Dubuque working on the script. This is on top of Gotham City Sirens (which has a director, star, writer and nothing else yet), Suicide Squad 2 (which may or may not be directed by Mel Gibson) and all the other DC movies WB has in the works.

The internet being what it is, these potential films have inspired a slew of headlines, thinkpieces and social media arguments:


Is Matt Reeves a good fit for The Batman? Is Deathstroke still the villain? Are they doing a page one rewrite of the script? What comic book or video game storyline should they adapt? Will Ben Affleck spend the entire shoot in his trailer crying while watching his Best Picture acceptance speech for Argo on a loop, lamenting how far he’s fallen since then?

nightwing-full-costume-1-2Is jumping straight to a Nightwing movie without bothering with an origin story yet another example of WB learning absolutely nothing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Or does it just make sense for Nightwing to already be in action if Batman is nearing the Frank Miller semi-retired stage of his career in BvS? Did WB already miss their chance with this when they failed to follow up The Dark Knight Rises with a Nightwing movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Who should play him now?


Who should join Harley Quinn in Gotham City Sirens? Which random actresses have said they’d love to play Poison Ivy?


And is Mel Gibson the perfect or worst choice possible for Suicide Squad 2?

I’ve also been guilty of such idle speculation. I already wrote my piece about Mel Gibson, and was debating Gotham City Sirens even before Suicide Squad came out. However, as a reader at the time reminded me can’t we just freaking wait to see how the other DC movies do before getting excited about what might turn out to be nothing?

The DCEU is in a weird space right now. A series of movies have made money, but not as much money as they should have and not a single one of them was widely adored. Take what you might think of as being the worst films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, let’s say Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk and Thor: The Dark World, and then imagine if those were the first three films in the MCU (I know, I know – this exercise doesn’t truly make sense since two of those three are sequels, but just go with it). That’s a pretty shaky foundation to build off of, right?

That’s where the DCEU sits after Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad except they all made more money than MCU’s worst despite receiving harsher reviews, from critics and fans alike.


It’s as if someone designed the perfect scenario to confound the spreadsheet-driven suits that run movie studios these days:

Suit: Hey, look, our profits/loss numbers are solid, and the ancillary toy sales are encouraging. Let’s make sure we have new product available in at least two fiscal quarters per year.

Anonymous Underling: Yeah, but the movies – or product, as you just called them – are shit, and no one likes them, sir.

Suit: You’re fired. You lack the foresight to realize that it’s as simple as this: If you put Batman in it the people will come, mindlessly handing over their money like the little lemmings they are.

Anonymous Underling: Yeah, but Lego Batman Movie is thus far trailing The Lego Movie at the box office. Maybe people are getting tired of Batman?

Suit: Oh, I can’t believe how fired you are. Why are you even still here? Get out.

That’s not entirely fair of me. After all, ever since BvS WB has made several moves designed to shore up the DCEU, such as anointing Geoff Johns as their Kevin Feige. It is under Johns’ watch that Nightwing, Gotham City Sirens, etc. have been put into development. However, this still all comes down to Wonder Woman, Justice League and Aquaman. As io9 recently concluded after providing status updates on the 17 DC movies currently in development, “That’s a lot of movies. And really, the only official ones at the moment are the two this year (Wonder Woman and Justice League) and one next year (Aquaman).”

Aquaman is due to start filming this May.

I know it seems like the comic book movie bubble is never – ever! – going to burst. WB might be just fine with turning the DCEU into a Transformers-like movie factory where nothing they make is liked by critics or particularly loved by fans, yet they keep making boatloads of money, particularly overseas. However, what happens if these films start making less and less due to audience erosion?

At this point, WB’s best move might be to learn from the critical success of The Lego Batman Movie and turn many of its in-development live action DC movies into animated fare. That would truly give us something Marvel isn’t. That probably won’t happen, though. Instead, WB will continue to adjust on the fly and fill release slots with action heavy, language-neutral product, assured that its movies will continue to make money because we’re all a bunch of zombies who can’t say no to Wonder Woman and Batman. But what if we do? What if Wonder Woman and Justice League fail, creatively or financially or a mixture of both? What happens then?

Wonder Woman will hit theaters on June 2 followed by Justice League on November 17. Aquaman is scheduled for October 5, 2018.

Source: io9


  1. I actually went back to the comment you mentioned and had to laugh because back then I pointed out that I first have to see if I would even like the version of Harley in Suicide Squad…I actually didn’t, but I guess enough other people did. Still stand to my point from back then.

    Needless to say I agree with you…but I am starting to wonder if the Nightwing movie is perhaps some sort of Plan B…in that it is not supposed to be part of an universe and WB decides to go back to just do stand alone movies again, leaving the universe business to Marvel.

    1. Yeah, you pretty much called it on Squad/Quinn, although I find it difficult to properly assess Robbie’s performance in such a shit sandwich of a movie with deeply troubling gender views. I agree about Nightwing and the possibility of shifting to a more stand alone model. Everyone was copying MCU model, but Deadpool and Lego Batman has and Logan likely will prove the financial viability of just going back to the old days and leave intricate cinematic universe building to the pros at Marvel. Or at least that’s maybe what should happen. Who knows what’s really going on in those WB boardrooms right now.

      1. Oh, the performance is fine…the way the character is written isn’t, though.

        I think Fox has found its niche…I guess it will stick to its loose continuity and make R-rated movies, the one thing Disney won’t do on the big screen and therefore leaves it to the Netflix shows. I have the feeling the Sony will do what I wanted them to do and leave the live action Spider-man mostly to Marvel, while it puts its own efforts into animated movies geared towards comic book fans of all ages, but mostly adults. The question is where WB place is in all of this.

      2. Agreed on all counts. I think Fox’s plans are fluid enough that they could change if Logan struggles at the box office, which us entirely possible considering that March is blockbuster-heavy this year. But, elsewhere, the lack of talk about anything other than Homecoming and its miles morales animated movie coming out of Sony makes me think you are exactly right about them.

      3. I agree. It’s just that it has Skull Island and Beauty and the Beast coming in behind it, and almost every X-Men and Wolverine movie has been notoriously front-loaded at box office. So, there is a chance Logan will struggle in weeks 2 and 3, although, really, between Logan, Skull Island and Beauty I’d pick Skull Island to be the one to struggle with ticket sales.

      4. Agreed. I actually forgot, though, that the second half of March will also have Power Rangers and Ghost in the Shell. Logan will probably do just fine, but it’s not going to be a Deadpool scenario because it has so much more competiton. My guess is for the month Skull Island and Power Rangers flop, Ghost does okay but not Lucy good, Logan rides a wave of word of mouth and Beauty and the Beast slays all.

      5. Most likely not…the comic book movie and the x-men fans will flock to Logan, but I don’t think that it will reach the general audience the way Deadpool did. In this case being r-rated is an advantage for Logan, though, because the expectations are lower from the get go. I agree, though I see a chance of Ghost doing better than expected if it gets glowing reviews. If not, well, it actually could tank. I am not sure how large the fanbase for this is.

      6. Ghost in the Shell will definitely sink or swim on word of mouth. Normally you’d say it would be guaranteed to get the fanboys/girls that opening weekend, but not even that is guaranteed considering the Scarlett Johansson whitewashing controversy. Some fans of the franchise might wait a week to let friends and reviewers weigh in the old familiar “is it worth seeing?” argument. However, as you point out it’s not even entirely clear how big of a fanbase Ghost in the Shell actually has in the States. It’s likely the film will rise or fall more on Scarlett’s star power than franchise appeal.

        Just to bring it back to Logan, I am personally over the moon for that one right now, but I’ve encountered one too many college aged dudes at movie theaters lately, staring at and talking about the giant Logan display in the lobby and saying things like, “I don’t know. I just gave up on the X-Men movies. They’re too hard to keep straight.” But, but, but…did they not see the trailer? Grrr. Argh. Did they not see at least the first two-thirds of The Wolverine? Either way, those experiences might be partially influencing my somewhat subdued box office expectations.

      7. To be honest, I don’t intend to watch it in theatres either…I felt that the whole X-men franchise is utterly mediocre at best, and one of the reasons I feel that way is because I was always peeved of the movies being basically the Wolverine show. After two bad stand alone movies I have zero interest in seeing his last outing, no matter how good the reviews are. I save my time and money for movies I feel I HAVE to see in theatres….I will be most likely the one who goes for Ghost in the Shell should the reviews be positive, just to see how they handled the adaptation of the Anime.

      8. And that’s at least something Ghost has over Logan. The former has a relatively clean slate (in terms of there being any prior films) wheres Logan comes with nearly 2 decades worth of franchise movies that have never quite reached the elite level of their contemporaries (never as profitable as Spider-Man, Dark Knight trilogy, Avengers).

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