Even though Warner Bros. and DC’s Justice League has topped $600M worldwide, it’s still only halfway to recoup. The film’s release is an absolute disaster, one that was completely avoidable. After the disappointing release of Batman V. Superman, as well as the poor critical response, we’re told the studio soured on Zack Snyder and had discussed shutting down the project just a week before filming was to kick off. Shareholder pressure pushed the film into production and Snyder was removed not too long after.
While Snyder was the biggest behind-the-scenes issue, the studio rushing their “universe” (in order to compete with Marvel) is what put them in this precarious position. Warner Bros. and DC have been moving so quickly that James Wan‘s Aquaman is already in post-production, while the studio attempts to figure out if they’re moving on without Ben Affleck as Batman (he’s 100% not directing or starring in the next standalone film, our sources tell us). The success of Wonder Woman has made it even harder to construct a new future because now they have an established franchise that’s begging for sequels. What do they do?
Since they can’t start from scratch, the best option is to both focus on adapting strong comic arcs (Flashpoint being one of them) and to make sure they’re truly, honestly director-driven.
Here’s the focus of the next wave of DC films:
- Wonder Woman II
- Justice League Dark
- Suicide Squad 2
- Green Lantern Corps
- The Batman
Wonder Woman has become their tentpole franchise; Wan’s Aquaman is done filming and the next to be released; Shazam! is to be directed by Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation‘s David F. Sandberg (I hear the script is incredible); and then there’s the long-gestured Justice League Dark.
There’s a bit of weird irony in this story because of Guillermo del Toro. You see, Warners and DC really need to make these films director-driven, so it’s hysterical that del Toro is no longer attached to Justice League Dark. It’s even funnier when you take into account that he’s looking at potential Oscars for his The Shape of Water, which is making waves among the top critics. Del toro is exactly what the studio needed, but instead focused on Snyder’s obtuse and flatlining vision.
The irony is that this isn’t the second time this has happened to del Toro, who was developing The Creature From the Black Lagoon for years before Universal Pictures decided to take that “universe” in a different direction. Now, they’re going back to director-driven films and bailing on their universe, all the while del Toro’s Creature-inspired Shape fo Water wins awards. WILL THEY EVER LEARN?
I’m a huge comic fan (there’s no DC vs. Marvel in my house), and I feel burned by all these wasted years. I’m praying that Warners and DC have learned their lesson and can right this ship that’s so close to sinking. The aforementioned list suggests they’re heading in the right direction. If anything, they need to get over Batman and Superman and let both franchises breathe a bit before rushing more of those into production.
As for Justice League Dark, it needs the right director and del Toro was it. Hopefully, there’s someone else exciting to take the reigns (they had been discussing with IT director Andy Muschietti), but it’s nice to know that they’re still focused on getting their own R-rated franchise off the ground. We deserve to see Swap-Thing done right.