The DCU is changing, but as things stand, its biggest problem hasn’t. It’s a time of flux for DC Studios and the DCU, with new leadership and a 10-year plan set to be put in motion that will hopefully elevate the shared universe above what’s come before. However, it seems slightly problematic that there’s a year of films slated to be released before any partial or full reboot fully goes into motion.
In the past, DC had a reputation for being too reactionary, trying to catch up with the MCU instead of focusing on its own movies and plan. With the DCU, James Gunn and Peter Safran are aiming to change this as the new heads of DC studios, but it is not an easy task in the slightest. Even though they will be implementing their own vision and changes, the DCU’s main issue hasn’t gone away, at least not yet.
Back in the DCEU, before Gunn and Safran were brought in to steady the ship, Warner Bros planning of DC was constantly its biggest problem. At the beginning, after a fairly successful start with 2013’s Man of Steel, the studio decided it was best to rush the shared universe in an attempt to get to the big team-ups quicker. This resulted in Batman v Superman being released arguably much sooner than it should have.
More problems and mistakes followed the DCEU for years, the most recent being the cancelation of Batgirl after it was more or less finished. This wasn’t under previous Warner Bros leadership; it was a decision made by current boss David Zaslav. While he has now hired Gunn and Safran to usher in the future of DC, under his reign, he has already continued the worrying pattern of the DCEU in the past.
The loudest voice in ushering in the new era of DC has been Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, pushing his film Black Adam and the importance of the character moving forward. Even with Gunn and Safran coming in, it looked like Johnson’s Black Adam was safe because DC was going all in on the movie and the character. Henry Cavil was back as Superman, and the stage was set for a Black Adam vs. Shazam or Superman fight sooner rather than later.
Things started to get worrying when Henry Cavill announced after a meeting with James Gunn that he would not be back as Superman after all. It was announced that Gunn was writing a new younger Superman film, meaning Cavill was out. While it wasn’t Gunn who planned the Cavill cameo in Black Adam, it was under the watch of Zaslav. It seems odd to deliver a Cavill cameo that now looks set to go nowhere.
The Rock also confirmed that Black Adam was not in the initial plans of the new DCU era, making Black Adam 2 highly unlikely at this stage. This all points to bad planning from DC yet again, making Johnson talk about building a franchise and saying how Black Adam and Shazam was the beginning of the future. DC let The Rock hype up the future of two characters that will now never get made, which looks like it hasn’t learned from past mistakes.
James Gunn has a few options for how he can fix the DCU. A soft reboot is possible, changing out a couple of things but keeping everything on track. Carrying on as normal seems out of the question now, with a full reboot looking like the most likely outcome at this stage. However he plans to save the DCU, there is still the issue of four DC movies set to be released before then.
The movies set to be released are Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash, which has already brought its own separate drama due to its star Ezra Miller’s legal troubles, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. On top of this, Blue Beetle, which was once an HBO Max original, has also been bumped up to a theatrical release. While all of these films could be great in their own right and that would be a good thing for DC, a full-scale reboot straight after isn’t going to do these films any favors.
Gunn is in the odd position where he is having to shepherd in his new era while dealing with a year full of movies from the old regime. If the reports of an overall reboot are true, great, but where that leaves 2023’s slate and what the last old DCU movie will be is unclear. There is a scenario where this works out for DC: a year of four great movies, leaving the old DCEU to go out on a high before the new era begins. Whether that is how it will happen is yet to be seen.
As well as rushing its cinematic universe, DC also made the wrong move in hiring Zack Snyder to oversee that universe. From the outset, it seemed that WB was never fully behind the Snyderverse but continued with it anyway, up until a point. When Snyder left Justice League for personal reasons, the studio took advantage of this, and because Warner Bros didn’t agree with Zack Snyder’s ideas or direction, it decided to make the movie the way it wanted.
This didn’t go down well, as the theatrical version of Justice League is not looked back on as a high point of the DCEU. On top of that, WB then decided to let Snyder finish his vision with Zack Snyder’s Justice League when it could have done that in the first place. If DC and the new DCU are to be successful, WB must let the vision of Gunn and Safran play out. Hiring them to oversee the franchise, only to not let that franchise happen or see the plan through like Snyder would be a colossal mistake and one it might not be able to come back from again.
With the new future of the DCU bringing change to Warner Bros and DC, the constant problem of bad planning needs to be left behind. While it points to more bad planning now, a Gunn and Safran overhaul might be the best thing for the DCU moving forward. Being 10 years into the DCEU with problems still occurring, maybe it is time to leave it in the past and the bad planning with it.
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