The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is dead. Long live the DCEU.
Well, somehow new, apparently brilliant, anyway. The recent merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery – an oversized entity known as, wait for it, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) – has led to serious discussions about how the DCEU will operate from now on.
Now, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter, WBD’s new plan for its DCEU movies and HBO Max shows is simple: let the DCEU’s most prominent creators steer it in a new direction.
What does that mean? Effectively, directors, writers and actors including Matt Reeves (The Batman), James Gunn (The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker) and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (Black Adam), building pocket universes based on the DC characters that have proven to be box office megahits.
Amidst several DCEU missteps in recent years, including the Snyder-Verse collapse and fans’ anger over the Batgirl movie’s cancellation, this seems like a very smart move on the WBD’s part. In fact, it’s a creative decision that could signal the end of DC’s premise for a cinematic multiverse — for now.
Take Black Adam, for example. Johnson is the most marketable and profitable A-list star in the world right now. The immense box office and likability of the wrestler-turned-actor regularly helps his films rack up huge numbers around the world, even if these films are not always well-received by critics. Meanwhile, in the streaming world, Johnson’s star power helped Red Notice become the most-watched Netflix original movie of all time in December 2020. Not even the star-studded Don’t Look Up or The Gray Man, of the Russo brothers, could usurp in December 2021 and July 2022, respectively.
Regardless of how critics view Black Adam ahead of its October 21 release, one thing is clear: if you’re WBD, you allow Johnson to create his own Black Adam-specific universe. Forget linking it to DC’s cinematic multiverse. Let the anti-hero stand alone, super powered feet first, make him a household name globally and then start introducing it to the broader DCEU.
Similar approaches can also be taken with other recent DC properties. James Gunn’s Suicide Squad was not very successful from a monetary point of view. In fact, it only grossed $168.7 million globally. Against its $185 million budget, this should be considered a box office disappointment.
However, the superhero movie was hailed by pre-release critics and garnered praise from DC fans for its humor, visual flair, and R-rated action sequences. Add the fact that it had the second-biggest weekend. of Warner Bros. which received day and date releases – in August 2021, at least – on HBO Max, and The Suicide Squad was very successful.
Gunn’s magic touch was also evident in early 2022. Peacemaker, the Suicide Squad spin-off starring John Cena, was one of the most popular series in the first few months of the year, with The Book of Boba Fett and The Witcher season 2. struggling to keep up with the crowd. demand perspective.
Like Johnson, Gunn deserves to continue developing a similarly small universe based on Suicide Squad. Peacemaker is already getting a second season, and according to THR’s report, Gunn is lining up a few more DC projects. Does that include a Suicide Squad sequel or another TV spin-off? Based on the success of the two productions he has directed, it is in WBD’s interest to give the green light to other projects led by Gunn.
Then there’s Batman. Matt Reeves’ first attempt at a superhero property was a huge success for Warner Bros., with the film grossing nearly $800 million at the global box office and rave reviews from fans and critics.
Unsurprisingly, WBD is extremely interested in continuing to explore The Batman’s neo-noir, pulp-style universe. A sequel has already been confirmed, a TV spin-off starring Colin Farrell’s Penguin is already in development, while a horror-infused Arkham Asylum project is also in the works. Per the THR report, Reeves has also met with writers and directors to create more film and TV spin-offs based on Caped Crusader’s iconic rogues gallery. These projects can focus on villains including Scarecrow, Clayface, and even Professor Pyg.
Given Batman’s enduring popularity as a character, and the new direction Reeves has taken for the brand, it’s understandable that more Batman-centric projects are on the way. It’s a universe that sits outside the confines of the DCEU as well – and that’s how it should be. Like Black Adam and Suicide Squad, the WBD should allow Reeves to create a world devoid of ties to his wider cinematic universe, allowing him to remain free and unoppressed by other Batman and DCEU productions that have come and gone.
Unfortunately, a potential long-term plan to create smaller, superhero-specific universes isn’t easily remedied. There are other DCEU movies in the next few years, like Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom and Wonder Woman 3, that are inextricably tied to the DCEU. Based on the rumors circulating around Black Adam as well, it seems that bonds have already been forged between this film and those set in the Snyder-Verse, which muddies the DCEU’s waters even more than it once was.
These potential problems are nothing when you factor in The Flash – the WBD’s next most controversial film, given the events surrounding protagonist Ezra Miller. The June 2023 movie’s ties to the DCEU multiverse and previous Batman movies are patently obvious. And, with a script for the Flash sequel already written, that might not be the end of the DCEU’s exploration of its multiverse.
The thing is though, it should be. Well, for now at least. Warner Bros. Discovery tried to build a multiverse in the same vein as Marvel’s cinematic juggernaut, but it just didn’t work out as intended. There is no clear blueprint for its creation, nor how all of its movies and TV shows effectively fit into the DCEU.
In our opinion, the best way for the DCEU to move forward is to do so with as few ties between each universe as possible. Let each creator shape their pocket worlds in their own image and abandon the worry of having to adjust each property around its contemporaries. Then see which ones resonate the most with the audience before you start building a multiverse where these characters can interact. Of course, it’s going to be a long, methodical road to a shared DC universe. Given the alternative, though, it’s a walk the WBD must take if it ultimately wants to compete with Marvel.
For more DC and MCU based content, check out our Marvel movies in the order hub. Alternatively, find out how to watch the Batman movies in order, or read about the Top 10 Best Performances in Every Batman Movie until here.