These films, along with the other movies and HBO Max shows that were confirmed to be a part of Chapter One, will make up the main canon storyline of DC’s films. The DCEU previously operated in a similar fashion, with those projects such as Man of Steel and Wonder Woman being the “main” story, while other films such as Joker took place outside of that universe.
With Gunn and Peter Safran’s new interconnected universe now well underway, there have been some concerns regarding how outside upcoming projects will fit into the fold, or if they would end up being made at all.
The Batman and Joker 2 Labeled As DC Elseworlds
Co-CEO of DC Studios, James Gunn, recently revealed the upcoming slate for Chapter One of the DCU, which was named Gods and Monsters.
While announcing that there will be an interconnected web of movies and HBO Max series to be labeled DCU, Gunn also mentioned that projects outside of this main canon, such as Matt Reeves' The Batman, will be labeled as DC Elseworlds moving forward. This is set up similarly to DC Comics, where it is clear if a story takes place in the main canon or outside in its own world.
Here are the three current upcoming films that Gunn confirmed to be a part of the DC Elseworld stories:
Matt Reeves' The Batman Part II
The Batman 2, starring Robert Pattinson, was confirmed by Gunn to be released on October 3, 2025, as a part of DC Elseworlds. The film will debut the same year as the DCU's first Superman film.
Todd Phillips' Joker: Folie à Deux
Gunn also confirmed Joker: Folie à Deux to be labeled as a DC Elseworlds project, which will feature the return of Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker and Lady Gaga's debut as Harley Quinn.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Superman Film
Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and produced by J.J. Abrams, this upcoming Superman film will feature a Black Man of Steel as the main character. It is still currently in development and will also join the list of DC Elseworlds projects.
How DC Elseworlds Will Affect the Future
Gunn and Safran labeling outside projects as DC Elseworlds encourage future DC projects to be made even if they won’t fit into the DCU. It also clearly differentiated one project from another to more casual fans that may not know the difference between the DCU and Elseworlds movies.
For example, someone may want to see a future DC movie, but not want to have to go through a bunch of other films to ensure that they aren’t confused. The clear labeling will make this much more convenient for these types of fans, so they can see exactly if something is connected to the larger franchise, or if it is something standalone that can be viewed on its own.
When discussing the Elseworlds label, James Gunn did emphasize going forward how a project will need to be "really special" to justify making it outside of the mainline DCU continuity:
"The bar for an Elseworlds tale is going to be higher than the bar for a movie within the DCU. Not that we’re not always going to have a high bar, but it’s got to be something really special for us to tell that story outside of our regular continuity and to spend the money to make it."
Fans can still expect other films, and even TV series, to be added to the DC Elseworlds list to the future though.
If The Batman Part II is a success at the box office, it will likely receive another film to round out the trilogy, and Joker could very well do the same. As far as Coates' Superman film goes, it could very well receive a sequel as well if it ends up seeing some success, and fans won't have to worry about it, or any of the other projects mentioned, getting confused with the films that live inside the DCU.