Marvel Studios has found an incredibly successful way of doing things for fourteen years now, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe being unlike anything else in the film industry. The studio has released dozens of projects under different "Sagas", all of which are subdivided into "Phases".
For example, the current Multiverse Saga is comprised of Phases 4 through 6 (MCU releases from 2021 thru 2026), while the Infinity Saga was composed of Phases 1 through 3 (Marvel movies from 2008 thru 2019).
Despite many different studios trying to replicate that success, no one has ever been able to do it to the same degree.
That hasn't stopped companies from continuing to try to replicate that success. For example, Star Wars has taken to expanding its franchise via multiple Disney+ series, and they even have a roadmap in place for their future projects.
Warner Bros. and the DCEU are the easiest to compare with what Marvel has created—though that comic-based extended universe has been riddled with misses and messy leadership throughout the years.
However, with Black Adam hitting theaters later this week, it seems that Dwayne Johnson wants the project to serve as a new milestone for the DCEU. Based on a new post from the actor talking about the film, it seems that he may even try and get Warner Bros. to start using the "phase" identifier, much like Marvel Studios does.
Could the DCEU Start Getting Phases?
In a tweet thanking a reaction to the upcoming film, the actor noted how the movie "will serve as [their] phase 1 of storytelling:"
"This means a lot, thank you so much. #BlackAdam will serve as our phase 1 of storytelling in our DC universe. Exciting times for the brand to build up and build out..."
While Warner Bros. and the DCEU overall have never used the term phases, it's been the consistent label for sorting the different sections of the MCU's overall storytelling.
Could the DC Universe start doing the same?
In a previous interview with the Associated Press, when asked if they were going to copy Marvel's way of doing things, Johnson strongly denied that way of doing things, noting how "it's not [their] goal to take a bite out of Marvel:"
“And do I think we are going to take any kind of bite out of Marvel? That answer is unequivocally no. Because to me as we build out the DC universe, ushering in a new era of the DC Universe, that to me is not my lead foot. It’s not our goal to take a bite out of Marvel. What they’ve done is incredible. What Kevin Feige’s done is incredible.”
The actor made it clear that he still loves Marvel, but the DCEU doesn't want to be them:
“And by the way, I love those guys. They’re all my friends. And they are largely responsible for the economic drive of our business for almost two decades. We don’t want to be Marvel. We want to be DC. And how we do things. So that’s what I want. I don’t want to take a bite of that apple. I want to grab a new apple. And I want to create from there.”
While talking with the NY Times, when asked if the unpredictable success rate of the DCEU put additional pressure on his upcoming Black Adam film, the actor admitted that it did, but that "[he] embrace[s] it," and "it's going to require real strategy and real leadership" to keep that cinematic universe going forward:
"Yes, and I embrace it. It’s a unique time in the superhero genre, where there’s the introduction of fresh blood and new characters on both sides of the aisle — at Marvel and certainly at DC. And the launching of Black Adam is converging with a time where they are also bringing in new leadership at Warner Bros. and new leadership on the DC side is soon to be coming in. I feel very confident about the direction of the DC universe. It is going to require real strategy and real leadership. And that requires us not to look at Marvel’s success and say, let’s follow that blueprint. That’s Marvel. I’m very happy for them. We don’t want to be Marvel, in my opinion. We want to be DC and we want to do it our way."
The Start of a New DCEU?
It's important to point out one key piece of information: Dwayne Johnson talks a lot. Even more specific, he talks a big game—so lots of exaggeration can be in play.
So it's probably best that fans take his words with a bit of caution, especially when it comes to the DCEU adapting Marvel's ideas of Phases.
Fans have been promised a lot over the years when it comes to DC's future in the live-action space, and many of those promises have fallen through. So it'll take some time to determine if a more organized approach to its cinematic universe is actually around the corner.
However, whenever any other studio has tried to copy Marvel's successful formula, Warner Bros. included, it's never worked out well. So maybe trailblazing its own path is the best path forward for the DCEU—despite the many clues suggesting that they'll be taking more queues from Marvel Studios than they let on.
What is clear, however, is that Johnson truly believes Black Adam to be a new starting point for the DCEU. Whether that ends up being the case, only time will tell.
Black Adam hits theaters on Friday, October 21.