Finke, careful to note that the situation is still in flux, says that the studio plans to release two more films in 2016, after Batman v Superman comes out in May of that year: a Shazam film in July 2016, and Joseph Gordon Levitt’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman in December 2016. According to Finke’s source, Warner Bros. decided to push Batman v Superman’s release date back to May 2016 because it plans on using the film as a launch pad for the Justice League feature – and therefore wants to fit in as many superhero cameos as it can.
The fun, however, does not stop in 2016. The Justice League film that was announced in April and slated for 2018 release has apparently been moved up to May 2017. We can also expect a solo Wonder Woman film, most likely starring Batman v Superman’s Gal Godot, in July 2017, followed by – try to contain yourselves, DC Comics fans – a Flash and Green Lantern team-up film around Christmas of that same year. (Ryan Reynolds reportedly will not be reprising his role as the Green Lantern.) Finally, a direct sequel to Man of Steel is reportedly scheduled for May 2018. There’s a lot to parse here, so let’s go down the list, one topic at a time:
1. If true, this list means that DC is finally stepping up its game and making a concerted effort to challenge Marvel’s superhero movie dominance. Moreover, this hopefully means that Warner Bros. is moving closer to producing actual superhero films. Both Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel downplayed the “super” aspect of their heroes, Nolan by focusing on realism and Snyder by presenting Superman’s origin story as an alien invasion. The appeal of DC’s characters is in their godlike nature, and it would be great to see a series of films that capture this.
2. The most exciting individual bit of news is probably the planned Flash/Green Lantern co-headliner. After the Holy Trinity, The Flash and Green Lantern are some of DC’s most beloved personalities. They’re best friends in the comics and have also costarred in the comic miniseries Flash and Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold. Because this film is expected after the Justice League film, we can assume it won’t be an origin story, which will set it apart from many superhero titles. (A Flash TV series also premieres on The CW this fall; how will the two live-action takes compare?)
3. Now the other surprising news: A Shazam feature film. For the uninitiated: Shazam, also known as Captain Marvel (not to be confused with Marvel’s own Captain Marvel character), is the magical alter ego of foster child Billy Batson. Just by saying the word “Shazam!” Batson is transformed into a magical being with powers of flight, invulnerability, super strength, super speed, intelligence, and magic. While it’s not yet clear whether Shazam will be part of the Justice League, part of me hopes he is. One of DC’s recurring storylines finds Shazam coming into conflict with Superman – do yourself a favor and watch their fight in this clip from Justice League Unlimited – and I’m fully onboard with seeing Supe versus someone who poses a real threat to him. Then again, while a massive fight between Superman and Shazam would be a sight to behold, I’m worried it could turn into another drawn out, CGI-filled battle scene à la Man of Steel – one that destroys an entire city with little regard paid to the lives lost.
4. There’s also the matter of Shazam’s archenemy: Black Adam, a corrupt Egyptian who receives his powers from the Egyptian gods and is driven by an insatiable desire to conquer the world and control all magic. Ever since the Wall Street Journal first reported that a Shazam film was in development, fans suspected that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson might be involved. The actor has previously stated that Black Adam is one of his favorite characters, and has also teased his involvement in a secret project with DC; this news just brings more credence to the rumor.
5. One of the most egregious crimes in superhero film history is the fact that Catwoman received a standalone film before Wonder Woman did. The superheroine has been stuck in live-action adaptation limbo for years now. DC tried multiple times to find Wonder Woman a home on television: David E. Kelly had a failed pilot at NBC that starred Friday Night Lights’s Adrianne Palicki as the Amazon princess, while the CW’s Smallville-style series Amazon, which had been stuck in development for several years, is dead. It’s great, then, to know that Diana of Themyscira may finally get her own big-screen vehicle because it has been long overdue.
6. The riskiest move in the report is definitely the Sandman film. That character isn’t as readily recognizable as DC’s other personalities and, as Darren Franich has noted, the graphic novel is extremely complex: Gaiman’s The Sandman, which spanned 75 issues, follows Dream (also known as Morpheus), who is the personification and lord of dreams. It will be interesting to see this film make it onto the big screen since it, too, has been trapped in development purgatory since it debuted in 1989. Furthermore, Gaiman’s involvement in the project is at least one reason to be optimistic. At this point, it’s not clear if this film will exist in the same universe as the Justice League film and it’s various spin-offs.
7. At this point, I’m not particularly excited about a sequel to Man of Steel, but who knows – maybe that will change after the Batman v Superman and Justice League films.
8. Naturally, DC Comics and Warner Bros. haven’t confirmed anything noted in Finke’s blog post. For all we know, this report is false, and there’s no reason either to get excited or to start complaining about what it means for the DC universe. Even so, though, it’s nice to imagine a world that is a bit more super.