David Kane ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
DC is hitting back. The leaked information of Warner Bros.’ four-year plan has fans everywhere reeling from the knowledge that they may get not one or two, but three movies a year starring various members of the Justice League on their own or teaming up.
The film roster lists Batman v. Superman coming out in May 2016, followed by a Shazam movie in July and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Sandman movie that Christmas. Going into 2017, they’ll release the Justice League epic in May, then the Wonder Woman movie everyone’s been waiting for, followed by an untitled team-up movie starring the Flash and Green Lantern. Capping off the announcement is a Man of Steel sequel in May 2018 that could possibly begin a new phase of DC’s cinematic universe.
This news is comparable to the release of Marvel Studios’ decades-spanning goal, and now we can see this skirmish finally play out. The fan response has been a mismatched hullabaloo of positive and negative anticipation, as people either cheer for the appearance of DC heroes or sulk as they expect Warner Bros. to ruin them onscreen.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, as it stands, will be DC’s way of introducing their brand of superhero team-ups, a concept taking center stage for much of their run. Being DC’s first outing in three years since Man of Steel, it makes sense to take their first steps into a shared universe using a safe bet: Batman. The movie hero that was dark and brooding before it was cool has brought DC a lot of positive attention over the years, and now they’re calling him in to hopefully warm fans up to the idea of an actually good Justice League movie.
That same year we’ll get two solo titles: Shazam and Sandman. All we know is that JGL will be directing and possibly starring in Sandman, and it’s author Neil Gaiman approves of it. Shazam is the surprise mention, and rumors have erupted that this is the superhero project Dwayne Johnson has been covertly working on. They are interesting choices, both being such fringe DC characters with strong supernatural elements, which Marvel has been publically trying to put off in favor of sci-fi driven adventures. Sandman especially comes from a surreal source in Neil Gaiman’s dream-addled comic book series, which could be adapted to the screen in the hands of a very good director. But is JGL that director? Some might say it’s too quick to introduce a deep magical presence in this wide world of aliens and vigilantes when it hasn’t even come together yet.
There’s also the possibility that these movies stand by themselves apart from the collected heroes, but with DC’s recent insistence on spinoffs and team-ups, it would really be out of character for them to leave a franchise by itself. The Justice League main event comes next in May 2017, and based on the films in development and various casting announcements, it’s probable that the seven founding heroes will be Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman. It’s a dynamite team, and it’ll be refreshing to finally see Justice League members on the big screen and not in LEGO form. Aquaman especially needs a serious live-action appearance to silence the never-ending stream of jokes that belittle the comic book king of Atlantis. With Jason Momoa hopefully taking the reins, we’ll see the hero that truly fits on a team next to Superman and Wonder Woman.
The enormous news of a solo Wonder Woman film coming in July of 2017 will certainly please droves of fans as well as feminist critics in general. For years there raged back-and-forth speculation on which studio was going to produce a female-driven superhero movie with Black Widow and Wonder Woman being the two contenders. This news might put that contest to rest, but whether or not this movie bodes well for female-driven cinema is still in question. Wonder Woman is a fascinating character with a unique place in DC Comics history.
The Flash/Green Lantern pairing is an interesting mention. The two heroes were a classic duo in DC Comics’ mini-series The Brave and the Bold, and now it seems Warner Bros. is giving that history some silver screen recognition. Speculation is circling that this Flash will be the same one premiering in his own television spinoff of Arrow, which means – if the rumors are true – Green Arrow will also exist in this cinematic universe along with all the characters that make appearances on his show. That’s a lot of universe to share. Even if that rumor isn’t true, Warner Bros. is still gearing up for a fast-expanding world populated with many heroes and villains from the get-go.
The final film in this outline is a sequel to Man of Steel, which by that point will be a full five years old. It’s a logical step, seeing as Superman will probably get little attention in all the chaos of these new heroes. Setting aside some time to focus on DC’s sun god shows appreciation for the iconic character that started off their whole universe back in 1938. It may give them the chance to show him changed by his experiences fighting alongside the world’s finest, and his returning perspective could orient audiences in the constantly changing cinematic universe.
A worrisome aspect is the sloppiness of this plan. Team-ups and solo ventures crop up haphazardly, as the studio rushes to finish all of these ambitious titles in a short span. What Marvel has over DC is the patience to methodically crank out one or two films a year that fit in a sequential order of franchises leading up to explosive Avengers outings. This gives steady pacing to an enormous series of interconnected movies, and it works for fans. Unless Warner Bros. has an ace up their sleeve, this outline appears to have no rhyme or reason, other than giving some heroes their own movies while occasionally teaming up others. The Justice League movie will spark a lot of characters’ cinematic debuts, putting forward the big question of just how well these characters will be represented when introduced so quickly alongside tons of others. Marvel knew how to divide time for its heroes and finally bring them together for a spectacular showcase of superpowers. Hopefully DC will be able to follow suit, because the Justice League deserves to have its day in the spotlight, finally giving rich characters like Wonder Woman and Aquaman serious live-action interpretations.
This is all dependent on whether or not this leaked information is true, which we will find out at the San Diego Comic-Con where the studio had originally planned to reveal it. If it is true, then devoted DC fans can raise a tumultuous cheer for their heroes finally being shown in the way they were always meant to be shown: working together to make a better world.