The DC Extended Universe, home to Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and more, is in a permanent state of flux - new projects keep getting announced, while some go quiet. What’s going on with Justice League 2? Suicide Squad 2? Justice League Dark?
Every so often, it’s nice to take stock of things. Six months ago we took an in-depth (ish) look at all of the films in development as part of the DC Extended Universe, and looking back at that now, a lot has changed. Announcements have come and gone, dates have appeared and changed, names have become attached and detached. It’s all really hard to keep track of - therefore, here is a newly updated guide to where everything’s at right now.
NB. This will be out of date by this time next week. Details have been announced/changed/revoked during the writing of this. DC and Warner Bros. are trying to exhaust the internet to death.
Finished (or nearly finished) and on their way to cinemas
The big idea: Jason Momoa’s mantastic Atlantean, last seen in Justice League, tries to stop his undersea home kingdom from getting embroiled in a war against surface-dwellers.
The big names: As well as Momoa, the film stars Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Defoe, Dolph Lundgren (aw yeah!) and Nicole Kidman. It’s directed by James Wan, of Saw fame.
Where is it at? It is currently swimming its way to a cinema near you, for a December 21, 2018 release.
The big idea: A small boy is transformed into a muscular super-powered hero whenever he speaks the word “Shazam!”, thanks to a kindly wizard. Sort of like Bananaman but without as many bananas or regional British accents.
The big names: While The Rock was connected to this project for ages, firstly in the title role and then as the antagonist Black Adam (more on him below), the larger-than-life incarnation of Shazam ended up going to Chuck’s Zachary Levi, who has both hit the gym like there’s no tomorrow and has a bit of help from a padded costume. Djimon Housou is the wizard, Mark Strong a scientist, and the cast is filled out with bunch of children.
Where is it at? Photography wrapped in May, so it’s all in post at the moment. It’ll be in cinemas on April 5th next year.
Wonder Woman 1984
The big idea: A sequel to 2017’s smash hit Wonder Woman, set in the titular year at the height of the Cold War, bringing Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in conflict with the Soviet Union as well as archvillain The Cheetah (Kristen Wiig).
The big names: Gadot, director Patty Jenkins and Amazons Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen return from the first film, as well as, supposedly, Chris Pine (who, er, bit the dust in the first one). As well as Wiig, new additions include Game Of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal.
Where is it at? WW84 is currently filming all over the place, with the shoot set to wind up in December, all leading towards the November 1, 2019 release.
Currently in production
The big idea: Set in a separate continuity from the rest of the DCEU, this is a standalone story of Batman’s most iconic foe, portrayed in this incarnation by Joaquin Phoenix (rather than a continuation of Jared Leto’s Suicide Squad portrayal).
The big names: The Clown Prince of Crime is played by Joaquin Phoenix, while Robert De bleedin’ Niro is popping up as a talk show host. Also appearing are the awesome Zazie Beetz from Deadpool 2, and podcast supremo Marc Maron. Batman himself might not be making an appearance, but his dad will be - Thomas Wayne is set to show up as quite an unpleasant chap. Todd Phillips (Road Trip, The Hangover) is directing.
Where is it at? It’s currently filming - every few days new images emerge of Phoenix in various clown getups. It’s set for release on October 4th, 2019.
Birds Of Prey
The big idea: A mainly-female ensemble piece led by Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and introducing Huntress, Black Canary, Batgirl and Detective Renee Montoya to the big screen, as well as sadistic archvillain Black Mask.
The big names: Margot Robbie is also producing this, which is thought to end up as DC’s first R-rated film. They’ve just announced that Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Die Hard 4.0, 10 Cloverfield Lane) will be playing Huntress, while Friday Night Lights and True Blood’s Jurnee Smollett-Bell will portray Black Canary. The script is by Bumblebee writer Christina Hodson, and the film will be directed by Cathy Yan.
Where is it at? It’s not fully cast yet, but has a confirmed release date: February 7th, 2020. Like when one twin eats another in the womb, it also seems to have absorbed another Suicide Squad spinoff that was in the works, Gotham City Sirens.
At very very early stages
The big idea: Various ideas have been thrown around for a Flash movie, and it now looks like the big-screen outing centred on the Fastest Man on Earth will be an adaptation of the Flashpoint comic-book storyline, a sprawling continuity-resetting tale that straddles multiple timelines and features a huge cast of characters.
A filmed version would have to be massively streamlined still seems like it could be pretty great, focusing on the Flash finding himself in an alternate timeline and having to restore the universe to order, along with Wonder Woman, Cyborg and an alternate version of Batman (where Bruce Wayne’s father wears the cowl instead).
The big names: Ezra Miller, Gal Gadot and Ray Fisher are all expected to reprise their Justice League roles, while Spider-Man: Homecoming screenwriters Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley are on board to write and direct, citing Back To The Future as a touchstone. This is pure speculation, but the story requires an older Batman and, well, Jon Hamm really wants to do it…but then, so does Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Where is it at? Principal photography is meant to begin in February 2019, for an as-yet-unspecified 2020 release date.
The big idea: Black Adam is one of Shazam’s arch-nemeses, although over the years he’s transformed from a straight-up baddie into more of an anti-hero.
The big names: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been attached to this for years as both star and producer. He was initially going to appear in the role in Shazam! (well, he was actually initially going to play Shazam himself), but is no longer doing so, appearing in his own film.
Where is it at? There is a apparently a script, delivered in August by Rampage writer Adam Sztykiel which Johnson’s producing partner (and former brother-in-law) Hiram Garcia describes as “extremely exciting”. The film is currently slated to come out in 2020.
Green Lantern Corps
The big idea: A flick about the crazily powerful, multi-species galactic police force.
The big names: David S. Goyer, co-writer of The Dark Knight and all the Blade films, is co-writing the script with Justin Rhodes (who is also working on a Robocop reboot, a Masters of the Universe reboot and a Terminator sequel, which is either a dream come true or exhausting).
While the full character lineup of ‘Green Lanterns’ hasn’t been announced, it’s said to at the very least feature Corps members Hal Jordan (previously played by Ryan Reynolds in the poorly-received, pre-DCEU Green Lantern film in 2011) and John Stewart (who, for a while, it was rumoured that Idris Elba was in line to play, but that issues with his Marvel contract would preclude portraying - now that Heimdall - Idris’ character in the Thor and Avengers films - is dead that may not be the case).
The idea has been floated that it might be a buddy-cop kind of thing, with the older Jordan showing Stewart the galactic ropes.
Where is it at? The script is reportedly due soon, and July 24th, 2020 is being bandied about as the release date.
Untitled Joker / Harley Quinn Movie
The big idea: Jared Leto and Margot Robbie reprising their Suicide Squad roles for a romantic crime caper.
The big names: Bad Santa writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are on board, and Robbie and Leto are set to return.
Where is it at? Ficarra and Requa have submitted a script, which they’ve described as a mixture of their previous projects Bad Santa and This Is Us, but with “fucked-up, mentally deranged people”. They freely admit they’ve got no idea when, if ever, it will come out.
This was one of many films announced before Suicide Squad came out, with Warner Bros anticipating that film to be, uh, better received than it was (this situation applies to several of the entries below), but after Birds Of Prey, this seems like the most developed one, and the one that has the most chance of succeeding - Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was the high point of SS, and Jared Leto is sometimes really good (when not terrorising/irritating his co-stars), and they make a cute couple.
It’s main problem really, Suicide Squad flopping aside, is that it just seems like a tricky one to nail in terms of tone - the romance between the characters has always been slightly problematic, and in an era of mass shootings, a sexy, cartoony, screwball, Technicolor Natural Born Killers where the heroes are also murderers might not be what a big family-friendly studio wants to put out there.
The big idea: A big screen adaptation of Spider-Man co-creator Jack Kirby’s enormous sprawling space opera featuring the battles of the incredibly powerful inhabitants of two neighbouring planets.
It’s huuuuuge, the whole thing, proper galaxy-straddling stuff, hella ‘70s, completely nuts and absolutely beautiful. The world of the Gods was kind of semi-demi-hemi-introduced in Justice League - Steppenwolf and Darkseid are both New Gods.
The big names: A Wrinkle In Time director Ava DuVernay is attached to direct, while the script is being written by Kario Salem, a pretty interesting dude primarily known as a bit-part actor and musician.
Where is it at? Incredibly early on, still in the writing stage. It’s going to be such a tricky one to do without alienating (ha!) audiences, and the planetary scale of it all means it’s likely to cost an absolute fortune, but it could be really good if they can figure out a treatment that works.
The big idea: When Superman’s home planet of Krypton was destroyed, a section survived, upon which lived his cousin Kara, who’s now been sent to Earth to join him (there’s a kinda-super-tiny tease for it in Justice League, with a crashed Kryptonian vessel featuring one empty pod, suggesting Kara could have been in it…).
The big names: Screenwriter Oren Uziel has been hired, and Reed Morano, who won an Emmy for directing on The Handmaid’s Tale, is said to be the studio’s first choice for directing the project, while fans of the Supergirl TV show would love nothing more than its star Melissa Benoist (pictured here) to join the DCEU (although they wanted the TV Flash to be in Justice League and that didn’t happen: pour one out for Grant Gustin). It feels like a hard one to do without a Henry Cavill cameo…
Where is it at? If it turns out Henry Cavill is in fact hanging up the cape, as may well be the case, this would be a way of keeping Krypton in the story - it happening or not might end up being entirely based on that decision. The screenwriter was only hired in July, so it’s all a fair whack away.
The big idea: Batman’s protege, Dick “Robin” Grayson, goes solo. Impressive fighting and lingering bum close-ups ensue.
The big names: Chris McKay, director of The LEGO Batman Movie, will be directing, and has read the script and is promising big things (he thinks it could be the film that forces the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to introduce a Best Stunt category). In an informal poll of fans, the verdict was that a genuinely incredible martial artist would (or rather, should) be cast in the role over one of the most recognisable movie stars in the world, as tends to be the case with most superhero films.
Where is it at? The script is complete, but McKay has warned that it’s all a long way off, writing on Twitter, “This is going to be a LONG process. So don’t expect casting news any time soon. We are taking our time.” Conservative estimates say it could be a five-year or more wait.
Much as with Supergirl, Nightwing could be a way of getting away with a core Justice League member - in this case Ben Affleck’s Batman - stepping away from the franchise, so it could be something of a hostage to fortune.
The big idea: Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, becomes the Batman-inspired (and eventually Batman-allied) crimefighter Batgirl.
The big names: Birds Of Prey screenwriter Christina Hodson is writing it, and Joss Whedon was briefly pegged to direct before stepping down. The studio is actively seeking a female director.
Where is it at? As the character will be introduced in Birds Of Prey, the fate of this film is probably dependent upon the success of that one.
The big idea: Introduced in the post-credits scene of Justice League, Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, is a super-soldier turned super-assassin, equal parts tactical genius and insane supervillain.
Where is it at? Warner Bros seem pretty adamant that this is going to happen, to the point that the TV version of Deathstroke, appearing in the Arrowverse, had to be written out to avoid confusion (for a sad side-note to this, see Cyborg below). As for a timescale, the jury’s out, and it’s likely to be extremely dependent on what happens with The Batman and/or Justice League: Part Two.
The big idea: A shameless self-promoting athlete from the future, Booster Gold is one of the more comedic heroes in the DC universe, a fame-hungry, money-grabbing fast-talker, who uses technology pilfered from the 25th century in lieu of any actual powers. So possibly the DC answer to Marvel’s Deadpool?
The big names: Greg Berlanti, who created TV’s Arrow and most of the shows that have spun off from it, has been attached to this project for years now.
Where is it at? Berlanti has a completed script and is excited about the project, which, like the Todd Phillips/Joaquin Phoenix Joker, is likely to be self-contained rather than part of the DCEU (and might be more of a full-on action comedy than the rest of the films on this list). However, Berlanti has no idea when, or if, it will get the green light.
Justice League Dark
The big idea: A grim, bleak, nastier version of the main Justice League, dealing with supernatural threats and weird spooky goings-on rather than big intergalactic type stuff. While the lineup has changed quite a lot, it’s almost always been centred on John Constantine, Swamp Thing and Zatanna.
The big names: Guillermo Del Toro was attached for a really long time, and The Bourne Identity’s Doug Liman was also hired for a while. Both have now departed the project, and It director Andy Muschietti was also circling around, but as of right now, the only person officially attached to the film is screenwriter Gerard Johnstone (who is also a director, so who knows, he might get to step up). Joseph Khan was lobbying for the position, and shared some ace concept art, but it didn’t pan out.
Where is it at? Warner Bros certainly think it’s happening, and it would be great to see Swamp Thing on the big screen. There are some completely bonkers elements to the comic which, in the hands of the right creative team, could make for such an awesome film. Fingers crossed for this one.
Possibly not actually happening
The big idea: The character, introduced in Justice League, gets his own spin-off.
The big names: Ray Fisher as Vic Stone, the titular cyborg himself. Joe Morton (best known for Terminator 2 and Speed) says he will also be reprising his role as Stone’s father Silas.
Where is it at? Nobody is quite sure. It could still be on track, or the relative disappointment of Justice League might have placed question marks over it.
Fisher freely admits that “Nobody ever tells me anything”, but has expressed concerns that the all-CGI nature of the Cyborg costume might be prohibitively costly, saying: “I’m the only member of the League that’s not in a practical costume. You’re going to be looking at $200 million just to make it. So it’s one of those things you have to take into consideration. It’s a numbers game for some people at the end of the day.”
Also, in a not-great sign, while Warner Bros insisted that the TV Deathstroke was written out in order to neaten things up pending the Deathstroke film, a TV version of Cyborg will feature in the upcoming Doom Patrol show.
Justice League: Part Two
The big idea: A straight-up sequel to the first JL, which was initially going to be released as Justice League: Part One.
The big names: Everyone from the first film would be expected to return.
Where is it at? Following the critical and box-office disappointment that was Justice League, this seems to have been shelved, with solo films more likely to happen. If they all do well, though, there might still be a Final Crisis-inspired, Darkseid-centric sequel, but realistically we’re probably looking ten years down the line.
Suicide Squad 2
The big idea: A follow-up to the first Suicide Squad, again, planned before the first one came out and underperformed.
The big names: Director David Ayer is definitely not returning, although all of the primary cast of the first film were set for a comeback - Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, the whole lot - including at least one actor, Jay Hernandez, whose character died in it.
Where is it at? Production was at one point scheduled to begin in March of this year, which obviously didn’t happen. Other projects seem to have taken its place, and it doesn’t seem like it would be a huge surprise if this was quietly shelved.
The big idea: Not to be confused with the Joaquin Phoenix, article-less Joker, this is a solo outing for Jared Leto’s Suicide Squad incarnation of the Joker.
The big names: Jared Leto, potentially Margot Robbie.
Where is it at? It feels as though the world doesn’t need both this and the Joker / Harley Quinn movie, and that one definitely has Margot Robbie in it so by definition is better because she was, as we’ve already mentioned, the only redeeming factor of Suicide Squad. Officially this film currently exists only as a one-line announcement - it seems fairly unlikely to happen, and if the other film, the screwball romance crime caper one, works, a sequel to that is much more likely than a Robbie-less one.
The big idea: A solo outing for Ben Affleck’s morose Batman, a noir-y detective tale with smaller stakes than the galaxy-is-in-danger kind of situations Justice League deals with.
The big names: Affleck was once tipped to direct as well as star, and wrote an early version of the script, which has now been scrapped in favour of one by new director Matt Reeves (of Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and War for the Planet of the Apes). Joe Manganiello, J.K. Simmons and Jeremy Irons may well also appear, as Deathstroke, Commissioner Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth.
Where is it at? Extremely up in the air. Affleck is supposedly a lot less enthusiastic about the project than he once was, as it’s changed to something quite different to what he signed up for. His lack of enthusiasm in Justice League was singled out by multiple reviewers, and his apparent boredom when promoting the film became something of a meme. It feels like this might end up being completely retooled, maybe recast, and an origin story along the lines of the Batman: Year One comic storyline might be a bit more likely.
(Pic: Warner Bros.)