The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is dead. Long live the DCEU.
In a new, seemingly sparkling way, anyway. The recent merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery — a supersized corporation known as Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) — has sparked serious debate about how the DCEU will function from now on.
According to a report by The Hollywood Reporter, WBD’s new blueprint for its DCEU films and HBO Max shows is simple: let DCEU’s most prominent creators take it in a new direction.
What does that mean? In fact, directors, writers and actors like Matt Reeves (The Batman), James Gunn (The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Black Adam) are building pocket-sized universes based on the DC characters that have stood the test of time become a blockbuster.
Amid numerous missteps for the DCEU in recent years, including the collapse of the Snyder-verse and fan anger over the cancellation of the Batgirl film, this seems like a really smart move by WBD. In fact, it’s a creative decision that could signal the end of DC’s cinematic multiverse premise – for now.
Take Black Adam for example. Johnson is currently the most marketable and profitable A-list star in the world. The wrestler-turned-actor’s immense box office hit and likability regularly helps his films to garner huge numbers worldwide, although these films are not always critically well received. In the streaming world, Johnson’s star power helped Red Notice become the most-watched Netflix original film of all time in December 2020. Not even the Russo brothers’ star-studded Don’t Look Up or The Gray Man could claim it 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’re allowing Johnson to create his own Black Adam-specific universe. Forget tying it to DC’s cinematic multiverse. Let the anti-hero stand on his own overwhelming feet first, make him a household name worldwide and then Start introducing him to the wider DCEU.
Similar approaches can also be followed with other recent DC properties. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad was not very successful from a financial point of view. In fact, it only grossed $168.7 million worldwide. Given the reported budget of $185 million, this has to be considered a box office disappointment.
However, the superhero film was hailed as a pre-release by critics and praised by DC fans for its humor, visual flair and R-rated action sequences. Add in the second-biggest opening weekend of Warner Bros. movies released day and date — through August 2021, anyway — on HBO Max, and The Suicide Squad was pretty successful.
Gunn’s magic touch was also evident in early 2022. Peacemaker, the Suicide Squad TV spin-off starring John Cena, was one of the most popular series for the first few months of the year, with The Book of Boba Fett and The Witcher Season 2 struggling to keep up with the audience’s perspective to demand.
So, like Johnson, Gunn deserves to continue developing a similarly small universe based on The Suicide Squad. Peacemaker is already getting a second season, and according to THR, Gunn is planning a few more DC projects. Does this include a Suicide Squad sequel or some other TV spin-off? Based on the success of the two productions he has helmed, it is in WBD’s best interest to give the green light to other projects Gunn has helmed.
Then there’s The Batman. Matt Reeves’ first foray into a superhero estate was a smash hit for Warner Bros. The film grossed nearly $800 million at the worldwide box office and garnered rave reviews from fans and critics alike.
Not surprisingly, WBD is keen to further explore The Batman’s pulp-style neo-noir universe. A sequel has already been confirmed, a TV spin-off starring Colin Farrell’s Penguin is in development, while a horror-infused Arkham Asylum project is also in the works. According to THR, Reeves has also already met with writers and directors to create more film and TV spin-offs based on the Caped Crusader’s legendary villain gallery. These projects could focus on villains like Scarecrow, Clayface, and even Professor Pyg.
Given Batman’s continued popularity as a character and the new direction Reeves has taken the brand in, it’s understandable that more projects centered around The Batman are on the way. It’s a universe that’s also outside the confines of the DCEU – and it should stay that way. Like Black Adam and The Suicide Squad, WBD should allow Reeves to create a world free of ties to its broader cinematic universe, leaving it unbound and unbound by other Batman and DCEU productions that have come and gone is charged.
Unfortunately, a potential long-term plan to create smaller, superhero-specific universes isn’t easy to fix. Over the next few years, more DCEU movies are coming, such as Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom and Wonder Woman 3, which are inseparable from the DCEU. Based on rumors swirling around Black Adam as well, it seems like connections have already been made between this film and those in the Snyder-verse, murking the DCEU’s waters even more than they were.
Those potential problems are nothing when you consider The Flash – WBD’s most controversial upcoming film, given the events surrounding its lead actor Ezra Miller. The June 2023 film’s connections to the DCEU multiverse and previous Batman films are evident. And with a script already written for The Flash sequel, this may not be the end of exploring the DCEU in its multiverse.
The thing is, however, it should be. Well, at least for now. 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 was no clear plan for its creation, nor how all of its films and TV shows would effectively fit into the DCEU.
In our view, the best way for the DCEU to move forward is to do so with as little to no connections between each universe as possible. Let each creator shape their pocket-sized worlds in their image and forget the worry of having to adapt each property to their contemporaries. Then see which ones resonate the most with audiences before you begin building a multiverse for those characters to interact. Sure, it’s going to be a long, methodical road to a shared DC universe. However, given the alternative, it’s a walk WBD should take if it wants to finally compete with Marvel.
For more DC and MCU based content, visit our Marvel Movies Order Center. Alternatively, find out how to watch the Batman movies in order or read about the top 10 best performances in every Batman movie so far.
https://www.techradar.com/news/the-dceu-should-forget-about-its-idea-for-a-multiverse-for-now The DCEU should forget about its idea for a multiverse – for now