After Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, DC Entertainment was kind of left behind as Marvel Studios started to bring thrills to the screen faster and faster. There are a few reasons why DC has been behind the times as Marvel continues to pump films out.
1. Nolan didn’t want his Batman connected to a larger superhero universe. This meant that, until Nolan’s trilogy was complete, Warner Brothers decided to hold off on plans until after.
2. Warner Brothers didn’t prioritize their superhero properties under their former leadership. That’s been changed since new leadership came in. Now superhero properties rank at either number one or number two in priority for them, depending.
3. Superman Returns and Green Lantern were both non-starters, and they had a couple of Justice League films in development that they decided to cancel along the way.
4. Marvel has three studios working on films: Marvel Studios, Sony Pictures (Spider-Man) and 20th Century Fox (X-Men and Fantastic Four).
5. DC has been focused on TV and arguably owns it (The Flash, Gotham, Arrow), whereas Marvel has Agents of SHIELD, and about five or six Netflix shows coming.
6. DC also has their Animated Original Movies line that continues to release some pretty good content every few months on home video. It’s been getting more and more adult oriented over the years, and less Timm-verse, but there are still some bright spots.
This is the DC Cinematic Universe Line-up
- Man of Steel (June 14, 2013)
The catalyst for the DC Cinematic Universe. It’s where the cinematic universe got its’ feet wet and told the world where DC was headed. It’s not the brightest movie, but it’s not totally dark, either. It’s got a sense of humor to it, but is also a great start to showing that DC wants to bring comic books to the big screen, by having a Superman vs. Zod battle to rival the Superman vs. Doomsday fight in The Death of Superman.
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25, 2016)
Next up for DC is not Justice League, but it may as well be called that. This is a film that DC has wanted to make for a long time. It was once rumored to follow Batman Begins and Superman Returns. This gives DC their chance to build a team. It’s also the first time in cinematic history that we’ll see Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman on the big screen together. That image is one that makes more of an emotional impact than The Avengers all standing together. Before Iron Man was released, the general public knew about the Avengers characters, but even so, they were all considered second-tier characters next to X-Men and Spider-Man, for Marvel. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have been in the public eye for multiple generations. That they’re going to be on the big screen together is a much bigger deal than I think we yet realize. These characters are legendary. It’s written by Chris Terrio, whose film Argo one best picture in 2012. Terrio won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
- Suicide Squad (August 5, 2016)
This one, I admit, is out of left field. I’ve read some of the comics, but it’s very dark. It’s pretty much DC’s Guardians of the Galaxy, only in this case, it’s a team of criminals that is assembled to go on missions that will likely kill them. If they are able to succeed in their missions, and survive, they are rewarded with less time on their sentences, and they have nano-bombs in their necks to keep them in line. If it follows the current version of the comic, it’s got fan favorite Harley Quinn, so there’s that.
- Wonder Woman (June 23, 2017)
DC is bringing the first major female led superhero film to the big screen. Marvel’s Captain Marvel doesn’t release until a little more than a year later. I’m sure Marvel will be paying close attention to how this does. This one will lead into Justice League.
- Justice League (November 23, 2017)
Without a subtitle to go on, this is where we’ll see how DC’s team stacks up when they’ve got to, presumably, save the world. This is also written by Dawn of Justice’s Chris Terrio.
- The Flash (March 23, 2018)
In a different universe than the TV series, we’ll be seeing a different version of The Flash, running out of the Justice League film into his own movie.
- Aquaman (July 27, 2018)
I’m hopeful that DC alters the world’s perspective on what Aquaman is capable of. He’s the first character that people tend to make fun of, which should probably be a spot reserved for Plastic Man, but we’ll see. With Jason Momoa playing the part, it’s possible that it will be awesome. Zack Snyder called a radio station to defend Aquaman, saying this: “The cool thing with Aquaman is his Trident. So you have to realize that could cut the flesh of Superman if they came in contact. That’s a thing that’s in the canon. He’s super strong cause of course he can exist at these super deep depths so when he comes up here he’s crazy strong.”
- Shazam (April 5, 2019)
This character was DC Comic’s Captain Marvel. It’s a character that’s actually a boy that shouts “shazam” and becomes the hero. After a lawsuit, DC changed the name of their character to Shazam with the release of the New 52 line back in 2011.
- Justice League 2 (June 14, 2019)
Likely also written by Chris Terrio.
- Cyborg (April 3, 2020)
A character that has grown in popularity since being a featured member of Teen Titans, in the popular animated series. When I started reading comics with the Death of Superman, the name Cyborg had a very different meaning to me, with a very different character attached to it: Hank Henshaw, who is also known as The Cyborg or Cyborg Superman. That character is not at all related to the heroic Cyborg. The best way to describe him, for the uninitiated, is this: he was a football player named Victor Stone whose father worked at STAR Labs. He is always trying to impress his father, who is not at all impressed even that colleges want to give him full scholarships. After he asks his father if that makes him proud, his father says “no,” and just then an explosion in the lab destroys most of Victor’s body. His father then uses whatever technology he can to rebuild Victor’s body, thus making him a cyborg.
- Green Lantern (June 19, 2020)
This will be a reboot, likely without Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds will probably be busy playing Deadpool for Fox, though, should his first Deadpool film be successful enough for sequels. There are also many Green Lantern characters to choose from, let alone actors. Personally, I’d like to see them use either John Stewart or Jade, to change things up just enough to make give GL a new lease at the movie theater.
And that’s the plan for the DC Cinematic Universe through the year 2020. It’s a plan that, I’m sure, is subject to change as films may come and go without making as much money as they’d need to, but it’s great to see that DC has a plan. It’s not as spelled out as the Marvel plan is, but that’s okay. Going into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which I also greatly enjoy), I feel like I already have an idea of where it’s going to go, for the most part. The only secrets are how it’s going to get there. With DC, they’ve only had the first appearance of a new hero, which lead to major destruction all over the world. That’s going to lead to other heroes rising up. Heroes that have probably been around for a while, but mostly in secret, and now they all want to know who this new kid is, and if he’s dangerous just being here. I think that’s why Batman v. Superman is the main title of Dawn of Justice.
The thing that makes me curious, though, is this: DC has scheduled many movies over the next six years, but the only sequel is part two of a Justice League film. Will there be a Man of Steel sequel in 2021? Seems like a long time, but not with a schedule that spread out. What about a new solo Batman film? Again, that seems like they’re waiting long enough that the Nolan films will be a distant memory for many fans. Then again, DC is only doing two movies per year, and in 2017 and 2018 (at least), Marvel will have three (not counting Fox and Sony’s entries). DC could, potentially, add another film per year.
As someone that has somewhere around 2500 or 3000 comics, the majority of which are DC titles, I’m really looking forward to this batch of films. It doesn’t necessarily have a “phase” style of film making, like Marvel, but it doesn’t have to follow the same type of schedule.
We have a long wait between now and the start of everything DC in March of 2016. Before DC gets going, we’ll have seen the end of Marvel’s phase two, the final movie set in Middle-Earth, and the start of new Star Wars adventures. And after all of that, 2016 will begin the DC Cinematic Universe with a giant, and then Marvel will begin Phase Three. And we, the fans, are the winners. We get to experience a renaissance of geek culture on the big screen, for the first time in motion picture history. And I couldn’t be happier.