Warner Bros. Discovery has got some soul-searching to do when it comes to their DC strategy going forward. After the studio recently canceled the upcoming Batgirl film, WB announced they are ready to reevaluate the DCEU.
The studio revealed that it is in the middle of building a “team with a ten-year plan focusing just on DC," with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav saying that the property ‘is at the top of the list" for the WB. But this is not the first strategy shift that has happened for the franchise. Since the DCEU’s inception, it has been shifting its focus as directors are forced out, stars ask to leave, and big names get tied up with the law.
For every move Warner has chosen to make for the DCEU, they have been forced to make just as many because of external forces. But with The Flash coming next year, a supposed reset point is sitting on the horizon.
So, with a Marvel-esque ten-year plan being put in place, here is how Warner Bros. Discovery should go ahead with their big screen ventures in the DC universe.
Superman: Son of Krypton
For WB, Superman should be their bread and butter. That is why this next era of the DCEU should begin with a brand-new Superman film. Named for the sake of this article, Superman: Son of Krypton would serve as a tone-setter for the next decade and more of the DCEU.
This is the foundation upon which to build this new take on the franchise. Son of Krypton would serve as a simple, yet exciting Superman story. The movie would tackle the origin again, get him to Metropolis, and then start to deal with what it is like living as a god, but in a world of humans. A youngish Clark would take on a Superman staple in someone like General Zod (no, not Michael Shannon's version of the character). Son of Krypton would conclude with Zod being sent off into unknown space (to a place audiences will later find out to be known as The Phantom Zone), with the hint of Lex Luthor on the horizon.
Wonder Woman: Rebirth
After Superman, next on the docket for this new era of the DCEU would have to be Wonder Woman. Rebuilding that DC Trinity should be vital to WBs super-powered strategy going forward. Wonder Woman: Rebirth would have ties to the old DCEU, but would also serve as a handing of the torch to this new and improved DCEU.
Rebirth would see Gal Gadot back for her third solo film, but would ultimately end in her passing the baton onto the next iteration of the character. One name that has come up if Warner wants to move past Gal would be to introduce the DC character Nubia. This Amazonian is closely tied to Diana in the comics and would be a stellar candidate to take on the Wonder Woman mantle. Rebirth would be a celebration of Gadot's take on the character, while also ushering in the next generation.
The last and maybe most confusing member of the Trinity to be introduced in this new DCEU is Batman. With the success of The Batman, many have begged that WB just somehow tie in Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson’s take on the Dark Knight into the greater universe. The one problem that that would create is this tonal dissonance between the moody take on Bruce Wayne seen in The Batman and the hopeful, brighter world of this new DCEU.
One way around this would be a Batman Beyond film. This would allow for The Batman universe to move forward on its own, while also having a separate Batman in the DCEU. Batman Beyond would be a take on the Beyond animated story with a twist. Instead of Terry McGinnis, this version of Batman would be Damian Wayne, the son of Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne. With Keaton on board, Beyond could be the send-off for the actor, while also laying the seeds of this universe’s Gotham.
David Zaslav has said that “Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, [and] Aquaman” are all key parts of the DC calculation going forward for Warner Bros. So, an Aquaman 3 feels inevitable. One direction the studio could go is telling an Aquaman: Underworld story. The fairly standalone "Underworld" comic run came shortly after the universe-altering Rebirth event and did a fantastic job at recontextualizing this character in the new canon.
That is exactly the job Underworld would do for Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman. This reset storyline would serve as a solid ‘fish-out-of-water’ story where Momoa’s Atlantean comes to terms with living in a new universe while WB can recast characters if they need to. From this movie onwards, Momoa’s Aquaman would serve as one of the leaders of the Justice League, falling into the role that Affleck’s Batman did in the 2017 Justice League film.
The Flash: Born to Run
Flash: Born to Run will serve as the largest reset for a character that has already been seen in the DCEU. This will feature a wholly new Barry Allen, who would likely be introduced at the end of The Flash.
Barry in the DCEU should play very similar to Peter Parker in the MCU. He is a young, wet-behind-the-ears teenager and the audience's conduit upon getting into later Justice League films. Born to Run would be a boots-on-the-ground origin tale and not much more, with the young hero getting the attention of the likes of Aquaman and Superman by the movie’s close.
Black Canary and the Birds of Prey
Black Canary and the Birds of Prey would be less a direct inclusion in the DCEU and more a commentary on the superhero genre as a whole. While taking place in WB's cinematic universe, this new take on the Birds of Prey name would feel more Deadpool than Captain America, actively poking fun at the DCEU and comic book movies across the board.
Nothing here would further the larger canon of the DCEU, but it would introduce characters that could eventually interact with the rest of the DC roster. This would be an opportunity to broaden the experiences that DC offers on the big screen, taking the success they have found with the animated Harley Quinn series and taking that tone to the movie theater.
Green Lantern is a MUST for the new and improved DCEU. While the studio tried it years ago, it is time to go back to that well and create something amazing. Hal Jordan is such an important character in the comics and serves as the perfect avatar to introduce the vaster DC universe. And that is the purpose this movie would take.
While not going all-in on the intergalactic wackiness that can be found in both Marvel and DC, this would be just the first dip of the toe into the intergalactic. Yes, Hal would be in space at points, but this would largely still be an Earth-based film, leading right into the first Justice League movie. Oh, and don’t forget to cast Glen Powell in the titular role, WB!
Justice League: Year One
Justice League: Year One would mark the end of this first arc of the new DCEU, and would serve very much the same purpose that 2012’s Avengers did for Marvel. This is the first time the team would need to be assembled as Lex Luthor (a villain who would be teased up to this point) is posing a threat larger than Superman is willing to take on alone.
Year One would be a relatively small team-up story though. No multiversal or intergalactic shenanigans, just the heroes introduced thus far teaming up to take on an Earth-based threat. The film would conclude with a radio wave blast upon the defeat of Lex that would cause various entities across the cosmos to take notice. After this first Justice League, the DCEU foundation is built, and it is time to get a little crazier.
Shazam vs. Black Adam
After Justice League: Year One will come the Shazam! and Black Adam follow-up, Shazam vs. Black Adam. This movie feels inevitable at this point, so it is only a matter of time before WB makes it a reality.
As for where it would stand in the universe, this would be fairly off to the side in relation to the Justice League. Sure, there can be mentions of other heroes and Billy Batson's general jealousy that he has yet to be invited to the team, but this is a Shazam and Black Adam story at its heart and would mark the first straight comedy in the DCEU after Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
Where Green Lantern serves as the first taste of DCEU galactic, Martian Manhunter would be the full-on all-you-can-eat buffet. After the events of JL: Year One, J'onn J'onzz (aka Martian Manhunter) is drawn to Earth, but faces some challenges along his journey.
This is a road trip movie in space and would mark the first time fans get hints at the unstoppable force known as Darkseid, while also learning about Boom Tubes (interdimensional wormhole devices), and Mother Boxes. Martian Manhunter would be key in setting up a new branch of the DCEU, one that will be integral to many of the films to come.
Batman: The Wayne Legacy
The first straight sequel of the new DCEU would be Batman: The Wayne Legacy. This will mark another Gotham-based Batman adventure for Damian Wayne, starting to introduce members of the Bat-Family. After the events of Justice League: Year One, Damian feels like he cannot go back to doing this alone, taking on a mentee in Dick Grayson (his first Robin). The character will also run into the mysterious Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman), and be introduced to Commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara.
At this point, Matt Reeves’ The Batman trilogy will be finished outside the DCEU, so this would mark the first time that Damian is WB’s only Batman. The point of The Wayne Legacy is to tell a story that expands the scope of the Batman canon in the DCEU, while growing the roster of Bat-adjacent characters
Another character who is called towards Earth after the shockwave blast felt across the universe in Justice League: Year One... Supergirl. This version of the character will again be played by Sasha Calle (who will portray the Kryptonian in next year's The Flash), except - to steal a term from the MCU - will be a Variant of the Flash character. After the defeat of Lex sends a mysterious blast into the cosmos, Kara-El is awoken in deep space after years of cryosleep.
She has no knowledge of Krypton being destroyed, and no idea who she is. All she knows is she is being drawn to Earth. The bulk of the movie will be a conflict between Supergirl and Superman, as she questions why he is one of the remaining pieces of their home planet. There is no big bad here, it is just a family conflict. Everything is ultimately resolved with Clark (aka Kal-el) proving to Supergirl that he is not the bad guy, with the two making Earth their home and devoting themselves to finding out who/what destroyed Krypton.
Yep, Green Arrow should join the DCEU. This whole post-Justice League: Year One era of the DCEU will be about expanding on what was built before, this marks the perfect opportunity to introduce a new hero in Oliver Queen.
At this point in the slate, WB will be building toward a massive conflict, with hints of Darksied planted throughout the stories being told. So in Green Arrow, the studio would be introducing a much-beloved DC hero to join the ranks of the Justice League. Despite Green Arrow being a fairly basic origin story, it would point to a JLA future for its hero by having Oliver meet and impress one of the Justice League's members near the end of the film.
Green Lantern Corps
As is the case with many of the other movies post-Justice League: Year One, Green Lantern Corps would be all about expanding the world set up in the first Green Lantern film. Hal would return to the Corps after hearing rumors of a double agent within their ranks. After it is revealed that his mentor Sinestro is actually the double agent and has been seduced by the mysterious Darkseid, Hal has to lead a campaign of winning over the rest of the Corps to take down Sinestro.
The film would end in Hal thinking he and the Corps have vanquished Sinestro. However, the villain would be shown going back to the tyrannical ruler of Apokolips and begging for his life, with hints that every villain from the DCEU thus far is being held captive by Darkseid.
In the way that Martian Manhunter familiarized audiences with the galactic world of the DCEU, Constantine would do the same with the magical realm. This movie would largely serve as a first glimpse at magic in the DCEU, with the titular hero acquiring his sorcerer-like powers early in the film.
John Constantine, at this point, will still be years away from ever meeting the rest of the Justice League. However, this film would also help to introduce other characters associated with Justice League Dark, like Zatanna and Swamp Thing.
Superman: Man of Tomorrow
Superman: Man of Tomorrow would mark the first big screen live-action appearance for longtime DC big bad Brainiac. In this movie, it is revealed that Brainiac was responsible for the destruction of Krypton (on instructions from Darkseid). Because of this, Superman and Supergirl actually seek him out instead of the other way around. It is a tale of revenge meant to push the iconic Kryptonian to the brink.
Clark is angry here and does everything to exact his revenge on the man responsible for the death of his family. The film results in Supes being brought to the edge, but ultimately realizing that he needs to rise above. With the help of Supergirl, Clark safely locks away Brainiac in the Phantom Zone. This ends with one final tease of Darkseid, where a Boom Tube has been left on Earth allowing for direct travel to the planet. The only issue is: that the heroes are unaware of its existence.
Shazam AND Black Adam
Before Darkseid can take on the Justice League, Shazam AND Black Adam has to happen. This movie would be a direct follow-up to Shazam vs Black Adam, marking yet another comedy in the DCEU. This time, however, the Shazam Family has to team up with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Black Adam after learning the Justice Society of America is corrupt. If there was ever a "Hail Hydra" moment in the DCEU, this would be it.
Turns out the JSA has been working in the shadows for years, prepping the Mother Box found on Earth for the arrival of Darkseid. Black Adam gets his moment of redemption here after a couple of movies being the villain, sacrificing himself to take down the JSA. This leaves Billy Batson (aka Shazam) left with the knowledge that something big is coming. So, after years of being immaturely jealous over not getting a Justice League invite, Billy’s time is now to get in front of the League and explain that Darkseid is on the way.
Justice League: Dawn of Darkseid
After years of working up to this, Justice League: Dawn of Darkseid will mark the end of this first decade in the new DCEU. The film will see Darkseid come to Earth armed with every single villain seen thus far in the franchise. Turns out, Uxas has been collecting these rivals and building an army to fight alongside him. This will be the culmination of everything from the first ten years of the DCEU 2.0. The Justice League will be joined by the likes of the Bat-Family, the Green Lantern Corps, Supergirl and Shazam-fam to take on Darkseid and his army of familiar faces.
The heroes will emerge victorious, but will not kill Darkseid, instead sending him through an interdimensional portal and locking him in his own pocket dimension somewhere in the Multiverse. This will leave the door open for an even bigger conflict down the line but will mark the end of this major arc in the franchise.
Where Does DC Go From There?
From there, Warner has a number of places they can go. With Darkseid set aside (at least for now), they can continue to build up the roster of characters, expanding on the stories of already introduced heroes, while also bringing in all sorts of new names.
But this 18-movie plan serves as a good start for the DCEU, and one that - while similar in spots to the Marvel Cinematic Universe - stands on its own. That is if they don’t refresh and start a new ten-year plan halfway through this one.