Ben Affleck Batman

Warner Bros.

Warners has hired competing screenwriters for their post-Dawn of Justice Aquaman movie. That’s super crappy for the writers (and really all writers), but it’s also another sign that the studio hasn’t planned out their break-neck push into connected superhero universes beyond cameo (and subplot) introductions for a shotgun blast of potential Justice League members in a movie supposedly focused on Batman and Superman.

Drew McWeeny compared the process to a reality show (picture an anthropomorphic script doing a rose-less walk of shame), and I agree 100%. While far from conclusive, the method points to another shaky element of Warners’ planning. Specifically, that they have no firm planning. Meanwhile, they’re pointing their bat to the bleachers.

To be fair, while they’ve hired differently-skilled (yet pulpy) writers in Will Beall (Gangster Squad) and Kurt Johnstad (300), it’s unlikely that their personal styles will stray too far from each other.

The issue is that — with our first look at Aquaman filming right now for a 2016 release, and the potential for a feature Aquaman film coming that same year — the studio seems to be hedging its bets instead of utilizing a singular vision of what they want the character to be. He won’t need to be encapsulated by his appearance alongside Batman and Superman (we’re not even sure he won’t simply show up long enough to wave while swimming in a lap pool), but this development is another sign that Warners is more beholden to a list of release dates for Untitleds than to a true, overarching blueprint for how their cinematic superworlds will cohere.

Considering the timing, it’s very well possible that they’re planning Aquaman to be their other 2016 release — hitting theaters a few months after Dawn of Justice. (Wonder Woman is the only other likely candidate.)

If that’s the case, it gives them two years to go from concept to premiere. That doesn’t feel like a tight enough time crunch to necessitate doubling their workload and chances of finding the right script, so I’m at a loss why they’ve done it this way. Especially considering that if Wonder Woman is their go-to for 2016, we won’t see Aquaman until at least summer of 2017.

Pure speculation: the indecision falls on two powerful enough sides of the line to facilitate a non-traditional development process. For example (and only example), if DC Entertainment chief Diane Nelson wanted one while Zack Snyder lobbied for the other. Somewhere in the decision chain the natural loser had a champion with enough leverage to keep him on the block for one more round. The alternative is that DC and Warners designed it so that two writers would be fighting for the property beyond the pitch stage. Since that’s heinous, I choose to believe something else is at work.


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