The early days of the DC Extended Universe were all about darkness and gloom, but Wonder Woman helped the franchise find its smile, and the cinematic output has been rather enjoyable ever since. You could even say that the company is on a roll at the moment. Naysayers like me who almost called it a day after Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, and Justice League are now eating their words. I’m in this for the long haul now.
With this in mind, the studio’s upcoming slate of movies is looking absolutely stacked. Between franchise offerings and unrelated standalone outings, there’s certainly no shortage of flicks on the horizon. From goofy comedies to hard-boiled noir, there’s some variety here, as well. Superhero movie buffs have a lot to look forward to in the coming years with Marvel and now DC making positive strides towards world domination. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the show.
Shazam! (April 5, 2019)
The next movie on the calendar is Shazam!, adapted from the comics about a teenage orphan named Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who can transform into the titular adult superhero (Zachary Levi) by uttering his name out loud. This one also looks set to keep the franchise’s grinning streak going.
The upcoming adaptation is an origin story that follows Billy as he drifts between foster homes, meets wizards, learns to wield his superpowers, and tries to put a stop to the villainous Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong). Furthermore, if that’s not enough to keep Billy occupied, he also wants to find his parents.
As our own Christopher Campbell’s Fandango set visit report highlights, David Sandberg has said that that Shazam!’s tone is “very different” to the rest of the DCEU. He insists that the movie is not a “pure comedy,” but it will be the most family-friendly of the DCEU releases to date. Sandberg also confirmed that while Shazam! is set in the same universe as the rest of the franchise, the story is very self-contained.
If you want to watch some movies that will help get you into the mood for DC’s upcoming blockbuster, Sandberg has you covered. In another report from the set by Campbell, the director cited Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and The Goonies as major influences. Those movies all contain a perfect mix of hilarity and high stakes thrills. That’s what a Shazam! movie should be about.
Joker (October 4, 2019)
Here’s where things take a turn. As you all know, Jared Leto plays The Joker in the DCEU. That’s still the plan going forward. However, DC wants to have its cake and eat it too, which is why we’re getting a solo Joker movie starring Joaquin Phoenix that takes place outside of the main cinematic universe. Joker also marks the first of several planned DC flicks that will exist in their own separate world.
Directed by Todd Phillips and featuring a cast that includes Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz, Joker is a Martin Scorsese-inspired crime drama set in 1980’s New York City. The story revolves around a failed stand-up comedian who becomes a psychotic criminal mastermind when his career doesn’t take off.
Joker is inspired by the Killing Joke comics, as well as Scorsese’s The King of Comedy. These crazy ideas are what makes DC fascinating. Additionally, Phoenix is a fantastic actor who’ll give us a compelling performance regardless of the rest of the film’s quality. Of course, Joker made our 52 most anticipated movies list for a reason, so color us curious.
Birds of Prey (February 7, 2020)
When the DCEU was still putting out bad movies like Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) remained a hopeful light in the darkness. Naturally, DC has been keen to capitalize on the positive response to Robbie’s iteration of the character, while also giving more female heroes the chance to shine.
Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) could be the enjoyable superteam yarn that Suicide Squad and Justice League failed to be. The story, which revolves around the eponymous gang of female crusaders, will see Quinn posse up with Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) and wage war against the evil Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).
The MCU hasn’t even delivered an all-female team movie yet. Therefore, Birds of Prey is a step in the right direction for DC as the company seeks to establish itself as a compelling alternative to Marvel. Until then, here’s a fun new teaser that features good music, drinking, and dancing:
Wonder Woman Sequels (June 5, 2020; TBD)
Wonder Woman 1984 is already locked and loaded, but Patty Jenkins has big plans for the saga beyond that. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the director confirmed that she has her sets sight on completing a trilogy, though nothing has been set in stone just yet.
“I have pretty clear plans for ‘Wonder Woman 3.’ Whether I [direct] it or not, I see how her arc should end in my incarnation of ‘Wonder Woman.’ I have great passion for that.”
Jenkins is keeping her plans for Wonder Woman 3 close to the chest for now. That said, she did tell The Hollywood Reporter that she doesn’t want to make another period piece. If the movie goes ahead, the new story will be more contemporary. I’m really looking forward to this movie now, as I know whatever Jenkins has in mind will be great.
Wonder Woman 1984, however, will arrive in the not-too-distant future and will see Gal Gadot return as the Amazonian warrior. The new story is set against the backdrop of the Cold War, specifically in the titular year of 1984, and will feature a brand new romance. Little else is known about the plot other than it involves Wonder Woman going up against Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) and some dastardly Soviets. Expect some Orwellian paranoia.
The Flash’s future solo outing, starring Ezra Miller as the speedy hero, was long rumored for a 2020 release. However, thanks to a troubled process finding directors and Miller’s busy schedule delaying proceedings, filming will not commence until later this year. At the time of writing, 2021 is the planned release date.
Should everything go according to plan, Flashpoint will be helmed by Spider-Man: Homecoming scribes John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. The story is said to be based on the comic book storyline of the same name, which features Flash and some of his Justice League comrades venturing through time and alternate dimensions.
Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, and Billy Crudup are expected to reprise their respective DCEU roles in the movie as well.
Untitled Batman Movie (TBA)
It feels like forever ago since Ben Affleck was set to write, direct, and star in a standalone Batman movie. Unfortunately, that project fell through over alleged creative differences between Batfleck and the studio. After that, Matt Reeves was hired to take over and the movie has been in development ever since.
The good news: Batman’s next opus is still a high priority for the studio and could finally be moving forward this year. THR recently revealed that a final script has been turned in, with filming supposedly set to begin in November. We’ll believe it when we see it, but general reports circulating the rumor mill all suggest that the delayed project is finally making progress.
The DCEU hasn’t been overwhelmingly kind to Batman thus far, but this movie could revitalize Gotham’s iconic crusader. According to Reeves, his take on the Dark Knight will be a detective story with a noir aesthetic. Considering that most Batman movies overlook his expert detective skills in favor of action and spectacle, this one will be a refreshing change of pace.
Aquaman 2 (TBA)
From a business perspective, most franchises rely on the success of the last movie to determine whether or not the financial risk is worth it going forward (Paramount’s Star Trek saga is a questionable exception to this smart business model, of course). Fortunately for Warner Bros., though, Aquaman is the most successful film based on a DC property yet, having just passed The Dark Knight Rises‘ worldwide box office. Commercially and critically, the franchise is more than afloat as a result of this film’s success. Praise the king of the ocean.
Naturally, it’s unsurprising that the studio is trying to convince James Wan to return to the sea and captain a sequel. Deadline reports that the director is open to the possibility of more Atlantis adventures as well — but only when there’s a good enough script in place. In the meantime, Wan will be enjoying some well-deserved rest and super producing.
Aquaman has always been cool and his recent box office performance is proof of that. It’s only a matter of time before this sequel moves forward.
Rumored Projects (TBA)
For every DC project that’s a sure thing, more lurk in the shadows hoping to eventually see the light of day. For instance, in recent months, the studio has announced plans for Batgirl, The New Gods, Supergirl, and Plastic Man movies. On top of that, James Gunn was hired to oversee Suicide Squad 2, while Gotham City Sirens and Justice League Dark are still very much alive as far as we know.
Elsewhere, if Shazam! is successful, Dwayne Johnson’s long-awaited Black Adam movie is bound to become a high priority (my money is on Johnson appearing in Shazam!). Furthermore, Michael Bay might be directing a Lobo movie, and I’m sure that’s something you’re all dying to see. There was also talk of a standalone Leto Joker movie last year, because one can never have too many Joker movies.
Who knows what’s currently happening with the Cyborg, Deadshot, Nightwing, and Green Lantern Corps movies that were all previously announced. Will they ever happen? Only time will tell. Until then, though, I’m guessing that they’ll unveil other plans to make even more movies in the near future.