Warner Bros. (and New Line) have announced a slew of DC superhero movies … over 10 films to be released by 2020. Capitalizing on the box office clout and increasing popularity of well-established characters, superhero franchises are becoming a summer blockbuster staple. The battle between the Marvel and DC canon continues, but the battlefield has shifted from the pages of comic books to the silver screen.
DC and WB collaborations are thriving on television screens (read – streaming and mobile devices) around the world, with astounding success for Arrow, Smallville, and full-season orders for upstarts like Gotham and The Flash. DC and WB have also shared their fair share of success in their previous film collaborations – with different reincarnations of Batman (specifically with Christopher Nolan’s excellent Dark Knight trilogy) and Superman (including the commercially, if not critically successful Man of Steel) – but have struggled with the realization of the larger catalogue of DC characters. It seems that the Wonder Woman and Justice League films have been in the works for years, and the attempts at popularizing other characters have often performed abysmally (*cough* Green Lantern *cough*).
Beginning next year, Warner Bros. and DC hope to create their “Avengers factor” – the culmination of individual DC characters in the development of the Justice League. As of right now, there’s no concrete plan from Warner Bros. on the type of DC “world building” that Marvel has so magnificently undertaken.
The listing below reads more like a name drop than a cohesive strategy:
Here’s the official plans for future Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema releases of DC Comics movies, not including plans for stand-alone Batman and Superman films:
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, March 25, 2016
Suicide Squad directed by David Ayer (Fury), 2016
Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot, 2017
Justice League Part One directed by Zack Snyder and starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams, 2017
The Flash starring Ezra Miller, 2018
Aquaman starring Jason Momoa, 2018
Shazam starring Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam, 2019
Justice League Part Two directed by Zack Snyder, 2019
Cyborg starring Ray Fisher, 2020
Green Lantern, 2020
It’s an exciting and extremely daunting task to announce the release of ONE blockbuster film, let alone ten, including sequels for yet unreleased prequels. Currently, my personal biggest problems with this plan are the lack of a coherent plan (or at least in terms of whats available to the public) and the heavy inclusion of Zack Snyder in the creative process (I’m sorry… I just don’t get the appeal). There’s some really exciting and diverse casting decisions being made, with the most recent rumors surrounding the casting of Jena Malone (Hunger Games) playing Robin in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (horrible title). BUT, if Snyder’s Man of Steel and Watchmen are to serve as benchmarks for DC’s future films, I’m a little worried – but, as a fan of a lot of these DC characters, I remain optimistic.
Has Marvel’s domination of the superhero box office set too high a precedent?
According to Box Office Mojo, Marvel Comics franchises have earned 57% more (adjusted for inflation) at the box office than DC Comics franchises. Of course, we must account for the fact that Marvel boasts film 34 titles over DC’s 25 – but as DC and WB play catch-up, Marvel continues to expand its universe.
Battling the popularity and box office clout of the Marvel franchises, some critics and business insiders are worried that the onslaught of DC characters may come too fast…and too…furious? (sorry Vin Diesel)
Comparatively, the timeline is possible. Marvel’s lead up to the Avengers took less than five years.
Are DC and WB too late?
Marvel’s success is spread across various studios and genres. Of course, not all Marvel films are critical and box office darlings (I’m looking at you Ghost Rider), but the top brass and talent at both Marvel and their studios have found a formula that works. They’ve managed to take Guardians of the Galaxy, a relatively obscure title, and deliver one of the highest grossing and best reviewed films of the year. DC’s recent superhero films tend to be darker in tone – which is not necessarily a problem, but may create challenges when marketing to an audience used to the Avengers formula. Let’s hope DC takes some risks and doesn’t bail on projects as it has done in the past.
Both Marvel and DC plan to churn out a staggering number of superhero-related films in the next few years – with prequels on sequels on three-quels, and whatever comes after that. There’s a chance that box office superhero fatigue could set in – BUT – if the stories remain interesting, and the studios treat the characters with some modicum of respect, let’s hope the battle of the superhero box office is an entertaining fight for the audience!
Let’s get ready to rumble.