During their Hall H panel at San Diego Comic Con, Warner Bros. laid out their plans for their next wave of DC Extended Universe films beyond Justice League in November and Aquaman in December of 2018. They’ve made some departures from the DCEU slate they announced back in 2014, with no mention of Cyborg or Justice League Part 2. There are also additions: some surprising, some less so. Let’s take a look at what Warner Bros. has coming in 2019 and beyond.
The next project to hit cameras will be Shazam!, the story of young Billy Batson, who meets an ancient wizard and is granted the ability to transform into powerful adult hero Shazam (formerly Captain Marvel, changed in recent years to avoid obvious naming-rights problems). Shazam’s primary nemesis is the wizard’s former champion, Black Adam, who will later appear in his own solo film starring Dwayne Johnson. Black Adam, however, was not mentioned as part of this wave of announcements, and the character will not be appearing in Shazam! News about Black Adam probably won’t surface until at least after Johnson is finished filming Jungle Cruise for Disney.
Shazam! will be helmed by up-and-coming director David F. Sandberg, who is thus far mostly known for horror films. This does seem an unusual choice, given that Billy Batson is perhaps DC’s least-dark hero. With photography not expected to begin until January or February of next year, Warner Bros. has released very few details. There’s no word as to casting or, with Black Adam off the table, what villain we can expect. Leading candidates would be evil scientist Dr. Sivana, telepathic Venusian caterpillar Mr. Mind, or thug Ibac, who fits the current origin-story mold of “Like the hero, but evil.”
Shazam has been a frequent presence on Sandberg’s Twitter lately, but no details about the film have leaked. The silence may begin to break once Sandberg’s latest, Annabelle: Creation, which he also made for Warner Bros., has been released.
Shazam! is expected to hit screens in April of 2019.
Wonder Woman 2
Wonder Woman has been the DCEU’s greatest success, both financially and critically, so it’s no surprise that the studio is eager to move forward with a sequel. Director Patty Jenkins is working with DC’s Chief Creative Officer and co-writer of the first film, Geoff Johns, on the sequel’s story. However, as of press time, Jenkins had not been officially named as Wonder Woman 2’s director. It seems highly likely that Warner Bros. will want to keep her, as she delivered the DCEU’s biggest hit, but there is nothing official yet.
What we do know is that the sequel will jump forward in time, albeit not to present day. Wonder Woman 2 is set in the 80s, at the end of the Cold War. Gal Gadot will be returning as Diana of Themyscira, and there are rumors that Chris Pine may return as Steve Trevor. Given that Gadot and Pine’s chemistry was a big strength of the first film, it’s not surprising they’d want to bring him back for the sequel. The only question is how. Though the sequel is taking place 70 years later, and Trevor is not immortal, in a comic book movie those details aren’t insurmountable.
It’s hard to guess who Jenkins and Johns might consider for their villain. Ares was an obvious choice in the first, but Dr. Poison was more of a deep cut. But it is worth noting that the current Wonder Woman comic writer, Greg Rucka, has been focusing on scheming CEO Veronica Cale.
Whether or not the entire DCEU will be adjusted to fit the bright, optimistic tone of Wonder Woman remains to be seen, but we can probably expect them to keep it for Wonder Woman 2. Diana’s next solo outing lands on December 13, 2019.
Now, as to what might be claiming the other release dates Warner Bros. has been staking out for DCEU films…
The long-discussed solo movie for Ben Affleck’s Batman is on the way, now from War For the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves. Reeves taking over directing from Affleck means that everything we had known about this movie, including Joe Manganiello possibly playing Deathstroke, is out the window. The reason for this? As he explained to the Happy Sad Confused podcast, he comes to projects like this with a specific perspective, a specific vision, and will only sign on if the studio wants to make the same movie he does. As a result, Reeves is starting over on the script, and only did so after taking a break from finishing War For the Planet of the Apes. So there’s no word yet on story, characters, or casting, as the project is in its earliest days.
What we do know is that Reeves is planning a noir-style movie, focusing more on Batman the detective than other entries in the franchise so far. This promises to be a newer, interesting take on a character. And a new take is a good idea given that Batman will already have had seven live-action solo movies and two DCEU team-ups by the time The Batman hits theaters, which will likely be 2020 at the earliest.
We also know that, despite pre-SDCC rumors to the contrary, Ben Affleck isn’t going anywhere just yet.
The biggest eyebrow-raise from the SDCC panel was that the solo Flash movie will be called Flashpoint. This is an odd choice for the first solo Flash film, seeing as the comic Flashpoint was a line-wide event about a dark alternate history, which resulted in a massive reboot of the comic universe–0ne DC started to walk back last year with the Rebirth comics.
This has led to a great deal of speculation as to whether Warner Bros. is planning a similar reboot of their film universe. This would be a questionable decision, seeing as the DCEU only began to find its footing with Wonder Woman. If they’re able to maintain that level of success, a reboot would hardly be necessary.
Others suspected that Warner Bros. would use a Flashpoint reboot to recast Batman and the Joker, but as stated, it appears Affleck’s in for the foreseeable future. Jared Leto, maybe not. But if Mark Ruffalo can replace Edward Norton as Bruce Banner without a reboot, it seems the DCEU should be able to recast without rewriting history.
POSSIBLE FLASHPOINT SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Flash TV series referenced Flashpoint with its third season premiere, but was unable to incorporate the majority of the comic story, lacking access to the characters. A film version wouldn’t have that issue, and would be able to make a live-action spectacle of the comics’ war between Atlantis and Themyscira, which laid waste to Europe, though it seems the DCEU is trying to move away from these darker versions of Wonder Woman and Aquaman. However, Jeffrey Dean Morgan reprising Thomas Wayne as a more brutal Batman would be fun to see, and Morgan is definitely interested.
The real trick is that with no other Flash movies to build the supporting cast, there’s no cinematic Reverse Flash to kick off the story, and only minimal scenes in Justice League to establish the murder of Barry Allen’s mother that lies at the heart of Flashpoint.
Once a writer and director are onboard, we’ll find out if this will be a faithful adaptation, like the animated Flashpoint Paradox, or a departure from the comic story like Captain America: Civil War.
And now, the three we know the least about…
Suicide Squad 2: At this point the only thing we know about Suicide Squad 2 is that Suicide Squad made enough money that Warner Bros. wants to make a second one. However, the studio has had difficulty finding interested directors, so there’s no progress to report.
Justice League Dark: Based on a treatment worked up by Guillermo del Toro several years ago, this would showcase the magic users of the DCEU, particularly con-artist wizard John Constantine, sorceress Zatanna, and acrobatic ghost Deadman. The exact line-up, and how much of del Toro’s treatment will remain, will depend on what creative team they can get.
Green Lantern Corps: This one’s long been in an awkward position, as Green Lantern is a key part of the DC Universe, so the studio wants a Green Lantern film, but also wants some distance from the last one. Frequent DC film writer David S. Goyer is working on a script, said to be a cosmic buddy-cop movie featuring a veteran Hal Jordan training a rookie John Stewart.
Details for many of these films are thin on the ground right now, but once Justice League hits theaters, more news will likely trickle out to tide over fans during the 13 month wait for Aquaman.
Images: Warner Bros. and DC Comics