Superheroes, superheroes, superheroes. It seems people just can’t get enough of ‘em. Every week or so, another instalment of Handsome Middle-Aged White Dude Punches The Monster breaks another few box office records. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the biggest player in the field, there are a whopping 18 (18! Eighteen! EIGHTEEN!) movies in development in the DC Extended Universe:
That’s after the five that already have release dates – Aquaman, Shazam!, Wonder Woman 2, Cyborg and Green Lantern Corps.
Now, lots of films that are “in development” never see the light of day. Some come close, some only make it though a few meetings, some are just quietly forgotten about. Loads of factors are at play in whether a film actually happens or not: the general state of the market; the fates of similar films; star contracts; staff changes at the studio; shit ideas; all kinds of things.
With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at how likely the ridiculously long slate of DCEU projects is to make it to the multiplex down the road.
It’s had some trouble, like Joss Whedon dropping out of it, but it feels like the world is ready for a Batgirl film. Gail Simone’s run on the character in the New 52 (a big DC-wide relaunch a few years ago) was particularly great. Barbara Gordon is a brilliant character, fighting crime not because of some big emo compulsion like Batman, but because she chooses to. Journalist Roxane Gay is said to be in talks to write the screenplay.
When do we think this’ll come out? It’ll definitely happen at some point. It does feel like she’ll be introduced in a cameo in an ensemble film though – somehow that has, despite being really weird, become the done thing in the capes/punching industry. Introduce her with a great one-scene cameo in Suicide Squad 2, explore her further in her solo film. Lovely stuff. Let’s say July 2023.
2. The Batman
Ben Affleck wrote a script for The Batman, a detective-y, noir-y tale of the caped crusader, and Warner Bros don’t want to make it. That’s awkward, isn’t it? They’ve got a few other people to write a different script. Whatever ends up being made – and director Matt Reeves is adamant that production will begin soon – if Affleck is still Batman, every single day will be tense as hell. Every line Affleck is asked to deliver will be one he’s been told is better than anything he could ever write. He’ll bring his Oscars (for co-writing Good Will Hunting and directing Argo) to set and stand there, wearing his Batman mask but stripped to the waist, not a small man, sweat glistening on his colossal not-great phoenix tattoo, and repeat every line back with an audible sneer.
When do we think this’ll come out? Let’s go for summer 2019, two-star reviews all round and everyone having a lot of fun with memes of a visibly livid Affleck promoting it.
3. Black Adam
The development of Black Adam has been weird, in ways that tales that involve Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson sometimes are. Various iterations of the film Shazam!, coming out next year, have been in development since the early 2000s, back when superhero films were barely a thing. The Rock got involved about ten years ago, set to play the villain Black Adam. As time went on, though, Black Adam became less of a villain, more of an anti-hero, and less of an antagonist in someone else’s story, more of a protagonist in his own. And now, he’s not going to be in Shazam!, he’s going to be in his own film. The thing is, the last time a huge, insanely charismatic muscle machine made a decision like that, it resulted in Terminator 2 (Arnold Schwarzenegger felt that, despite playing the baddie in The Terminator, he was so well-loved he had to be the goodie in the second one).
When do we think this’ll come out? Everything involving The Rock happens, but Shazam! needs to come out next summer first, so shall we say summer 2021?
Flashpoint is a big storyline from the comics that is kind of nuts to be honest, involving alternate dimensions, time travel and Bruce Wayne’s dad becoming Batman instead of Bruce (after the young Bruce is killed in the alley instead of his parents). It would make a pretty great film, and could easily work with only minimal Affleck but lots of Batman (possibly played by The Walking Dead’s Negan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who showed up as the senior Wayne in Justice League). Ezra Miller is a fine Flash, and this could make him a household name. Horrible Bosses writer-directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (the latter of whom was Sam Weir in Freaks And Geeks, which is on Netflix and one of the greatest TV shows ever made, watch it if you haven’t, it’s amazing) are on it, with production currently set to begin this autumn, and why not, seems perfectly doable.
When do we think this’ll come out? Summer 2020. The marketing will be deeply confusing though, and make people think they’ve sacked Ben Affleck as Batman. Also, it will absolutely be too long. It’ll be like two hours 40 and not need to be. Hand on heart.
5. Gotham City Sirens
Produced by Margot Robbie, this is set to see her reprise her role as Harley Quinn, accompanied by Catwoman and Poison Ivy. Tomb Raider screenwriter Geneva Dworet-Robertson is on board, as is Suicide Squad director David Ayer… or are they? There are rumours that this one might have been binned in favour of the many other Harley Quinn projects (see below). Everyone will conclude that maybe they got overexcited about the character when Suicide Squad came out, and actually we maybe don’t need six films about her, and Oscar-nominee Margot Robbie should be free to work on some films that involve her wearing actual trousers.
When do we think this’ll come out? It won’t.
6. Justice League Dark
A movie about the grimmer, more deathy side of superheroes (including Swamp Thing, Zatanna and John Constantine) always felt like a bit of a long shot, but since Justice League came out and made less money than any other DC film, with the saga of Henry Cavill’s upper lip overshadowing everything else about it, it’s not happening, surely. Not under that title, anyway – it doesn’t really make any sense, and since the ridiculous colour palette of the DC films has already put a bunch of people off, slapping the word Dark in the title won’t help. Huge names have come and gone from the project – Guillermo del Toro, music video king Joseph Kahn, Peter Jackson – and it feels like the main Justice League’s financial underwhelmingness could be the nail in Justice League Dark’s coffin. However, some of the characters could totally show up in other movies – Annihilation’s Alex Garland has said he wants to make a Swamp Thing movie, and a Zatanna movie could be really good fun.
When do we think this’ll come out? It won’t, but Alex Garland will lose three years of his life working on a Swamp Thing project that never gets released. He’ll then, while really pissed off, make about five really good low-budget mind-bending sci-fi films in the space of about a year, three of which have Benedict Wong in.
7. New Gods
A Wrinkle In Time director Ava DuVernay has signed on to direct this has-to-be-massive, can’t-be-done-by-halves, proper-flippin’-enormous film, where seeds sown in Batman V Superman and Justice League (but, for some reason, left on the cutting room floor – yeah, believe it or not, stuff was actually edited out of those films) come to fruition with galaxy-sized wars between godlike aliens. Again, Justice League stinking the joint up financially won’t have helped matters, but the success of A Wrinkle in Time and the enormous possibilities of what a New Gods movie could look like (think Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings kind of scale stuff with enormous celestial beings walloping each other, proper ace) mean this will (a) definitely happen and (b) if handled correctly properly revitalise the DCEU.
When do we think this’ll come out? Summer 2021?
Nightwing could happen. He’s great in the comics, where among other things he’s famous for having a nicearse (genuinely - it’s an attempt to redress the balance of ridiculously oversexualised female characters). Nightwing is the identity adopted by orphaned circus acrobat Dick Grayson when he grows up and stops being Robin. Out of Batman’s shadow, he becomes the saviour of Bludhaven, Gotham’s silly-named neighbouring city. He could make for a really good film - lots of really acrobatic martial arts, aerial stunts and stuff, in between the obligatory lingering close-ups on whoever plays him’s flawless buttocks. There’s a director on board, The Lego Batman Movie’s Chris McKay, and casting is currently underway for a pert-bottomed chap to fill Grayson’s leggings. A Nightwing film that only loosely alludes to the main DCEU continuity – it’s been established that Affleck’s Batman has had at least one Robin, Jason Todd – and is mainly its own thing could be really, really good. Maybe Affleck could Skype in or something.
When do we think this’ll come out? It all seems like it’s definitely going to happen and is reasonably underway. Let’s go for spring 2020, followed by a rushed-out sequel that isn’t very good.
9. Suicide Squad 2
Suicide Squad wasn’t good. However, a sequel was greenlit before the first one came out, and is meant to be filming later this year. Despite the not-goodness of the first one, it made an absolute bum-ton of money, and everyone is tied into contracts for the sequel, so it’s a sure thing.
When do we think this’ll come out? August 2020.
10. Untitled Birds Of Prey Film
This is where it all starts to get a bit confusing. Birds of Prey is the name of several different all-female lineups in DC comics, almost all of which include Oracle, which is what Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon calls herself after she is paralysed by the Joker. But there’s a Batgirl film in development (as mentioned above) – both can’t happen, really, unless there’s some real juggling about.
It’s also meant to be fronted by Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn – of the 22 different characters that have been members of the group at some point, none are her. Since the title doesn’t really mean anything and the lineup has always changed, it can easily be used for any all-female grouping of DC characters without annoying anyone too much - it seems plausible that this could end up being some kind of “a motley crew of heroes and villains are forced to put aside their differences and team up to use their unique combination of skills to pull off some kind of elaborate heist” thing, which is always a laugh.
When do we think this’ll come out? Maybe like 2026? They’ll do the other Suicide Squad and Harley Quinn ones first, and she’ll have a smaller role in this one. This is pure conjecture btw, we don’t actually know anything at all. Also, because Hollywood is maaaad sexist, if the all-female Ocean’s 8 doesn’t do well, they’ll shelve this, even if it’s James Corden’s fault, which it will be.
11. Untitled Booster Gold Film
Not flippin’ happening. The idea was that this would be a comedy film within the DCEU, the equivalent of Ant-Man or Thor: Ragnarok within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A buddy cop, caper kind of thing based around the Blue Beetle/Booster Gold double-act from the comics – the kind of thing where they’d cast two dudes with great chemistry, costume them up and let ‘em riff. Like the “you know how I know you’re gay?” bit from The 40-Year-Old Virgin with ideally less homophobia and probably not Paul Rudd. But then, for some reason, it was announced that Blue Beetle wouldn’t be a part of it. A buddy comedy without a buddy. That’s not going to happen is it?
When do we think this’ll come out? Never.
12. Untitled Deadshot Film
Won’t happen. Deadshot, Will Smith’s character from Suicide Squad, doesn’t need his own film and isn’t that good a character. God knows how they got Will Smith to play him. It feels like everyone is just a bit uncomfortable that Will Smith, one of the most charismatic movie stars in the world, was part of a trying-slightly-too-hard ensemble piece instead of the clear leading man, and they’re trying to make up for it by giving him his own film now. It’s just not a character anybody gives a shit about, and Will Smith can do better.
When do we think this’ll come out? Never.
13. Untitled Deathstroke Film
Completely not happening. Deathstroke was played by Joe Manganiello in Justice League, and The Raid’s Gareth Edwards is set to helm this, but (a) people will hear the name and think it’s Will Smith’s character from Suicide Squad and (b) he’s a really derivative character that nobody will ever care about. Joe Manganiello is great, and the character will almost certainly show up in Flashpoint, but this is a stinker. It’ll be cancelled.
When do we think this’ll come out? Absolutely never, no.
14. Untitled Harley Quinn Film
Well, yes. This is the one out of all of the uncertain projects that is most likely to happen. Suicide Squad 2 will come out, people will talk about how much better it would have been if it was just a Harley Quinn movie, and then they’ll announce a Harley Quinn movie.
When do we think this’ll come out? July 2022
15. Untitled Harley Quinn and the Joker film
Ah, Jared Leto. You were a really interesting actor for a while, taking on roles far more complex than anyone would have expected Jordan catalano from My So-Called Life to do. You had a fascinatingly conflicted relationship with your own looks, taking on endless roles that involved your delicately beautiful features being mangled (Fight Club, Panic Room, Requiem For A Dream…). But the last few years you’re just a bit, you know, tiring. You’d probably have been in Suicide Squad more if you hadn’t been such an arsehole during the filming of it, sending used condoms to other cast members and the like. Harley Quinn doesn’t need the Joker, and Margot Robbie certainly doesn’t need you. Scratch this one and just do the Quinn solo film. Maybe, maybe, if everyone really really insists, have a joker cameo in it.
When do we think this’ll come out? Ideally it won’t.
16. Untitled Justice League sequel
Due to the low box office take of the first one, this seems like it might not happen. In December, a “restructuring” at Warner Bros. made its future look a bit dodgy, and the final numbers won’t have helped that. They apparently even tied up some bits in the first one that were initially going to be left open-ended, because they had a feeling they might have a stinker on their hands. The only way this’ll still happen is if the Aquaman and Cyborg solo films do really well.
When do we think this’ll come out? There’s only about a 35% chance of it happening, but 2023 if so.
17. Untitled Lobo Film
There are two actors alive who could do a good job of Lobo, and they’re both in other DCEU movies, in a massive own-foot-shooting by the powers that be. Jason Momoa was born to play Lobo, the hilarious cigar-chomping space-biker bounty hunter, and in his absence, Joe Manganiello could do a fine job. But once both of them are out of the picture (due to being Aquaman and Deathstroke) nope, there isn’t anyone anywhere who could do it. This is a massive shame, as Lobo is a fantastic character, a brawling, womanising, hard-drinking mass-murderer whose catchphrases include “Fightin’ makes me horny”. His 1990s solo series written by Alan Grant (the comics writer, not the fictional paleontologist) was just magnificent, an over-the-top celebration of ridiculous ultraviolence and toilet humour with the best dog (or rather, dawg) in comics ever.
When will this come out? It won’t, due to DC misusing the mantastic assets at their disposal.
18. Untitled Man Of Steel Sequel
Fuck it, straight to Netflix.
(Images: DC Comics/Warner Brothers)