The Forge: Looking forward at the second phase of the DCEU & what can help shape the universe

“I am sure you’re wondering why I have all gathered you here. As you can see on the monitor, we are experiencing some significant turbulence within this time line, and are looking to the future thanks to Boomtube technology to give us an idea of how to fix this problem”

Fun Justice League scene aside, many fans are always looking to the future, whether it is the next movie for a particular character like the recently announced Man of Steel II, or the latest movie to shed light on the universe as a whole such as the soon to be released Wonder Woman and potential juggernaut in Justice League later this year.

Before we can even get into phase two however, we have to take a look at what is actually announced for phase one, if it is actually going to stay in this phase and if phase one will actually end as new movies seem to be getting announced every week. Currently according to IMDb, which I realize is not the be all and end all of information, has phase one of the DCEU as the following movies.

  • Man of Steel
  • Batman v Superman
  • Suicide Squad
  • Wonder Woman
  • Justice League part 1
  • The Flash
  • Aquaman
  • Shazam
  • Justice League Part 2
  • Cyborg
  • Green Lantern Corp

Automatically we know that The Flash is in major trouble, with multiple director changes and multiple script rewrites. The Shazam movie is at the moment vaporware with the Rock attached to play Black Adam, yet Black Adam is also supposed to have his own movie? Cyborg may get folded into a Teen Titans movie and the Green Lantern Corp may or may not be getting screen time in any of these movies already mentioned. Couple this with talks/announcements of The Batman, Man of Steel II, Bird’s of Prey and the Justice League Dark Universe; a magic and supernatural side of the world; we have to wonder what is actually being made and if they are going to keep it in all in phase one or spread it out. For the purpose of this piece I am going to make some assumptions on the newly announced movies and hedge my bets on them being part of the second round of DCEU shows. Here are the six movies I think are going to be the start of Warner Brothers follow-up to phase one.

The Batman

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I think everyone realizes that this will be the first salvo used in DCEU’s next phase as it’s their primary character and Warner Brothers and DC seem to be unable to have something NOT loosely affiliated with the Dark Knights universe. With Ben Affleck stepping down as writer and director on this movie, it opens up a lot of potential for a new vision, not only for the movie itself, but for the potential direction of their cinematic universe. The interesting aspects of this movie is what story arcs will it take from the comic books, if it does at all.

In my mind, I see someone like the Riddler or the Penguin as the main villain as they challenge Batman/Bruce Wayne in a way that the other villains in these past four movies have not. The Riddler brings forth the capacity to have the detective nature of Batman come out. We can have deadly traps and queries meant to push our hero to the limit. On the flip side the Penguin is a strong opponent because you could play him as a rival business man to Bruce Wayne, while his criminal element causes strife for his alter ego.

Man of Steel II

Man of Steel II

This is the other sure-fire movie to be at the start of phase 2 as it has been pretty terrible of Warner Brothers to keep this movie out of the lime light. Man of Steel was the best movie, in my opinion, from the DCEU and their mishandling of their other properties from a critical viewpoint have made pushed this to the forefront of development.

What is exciting about a new Superman movie is we have a ton of places we can take this story. Do we take queues from the Justice League movies and expand from there, or do we introduce new villains like Mongul, Metallo or Cyborg Superman to challenge our hero on a more physical level compared to a mental one. In my opinion it would be to soon to bring in Braniac as his villain due to the fact that both he and Darkseid are similar ‘god tier’ opponents.

Birds of Prey/Gotham City Sirens

Birds of Prey

There has been a lot of talk lately about these movie, partially due to how well Margot Robbie was received as Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad and partially because any time some notes something positive DC has to rush off and announce it’s in talks for a green light. Snark aside, I think there are a lot of positive aspects to a Birds of Prey or a Gotham City Sirens movie. We get to see Harley again, hopefully some cloths that cover something (didn’t like the look, sue me), and a potential cast of Bat Girl/Oracle, Huntress, Black Canary, Catwoman, Hawkgirl, Posion, Ivy, Wildcat and of course Batman.

The potential issues with this series though is what villains do they use and can they find a script which doesn’t paint these women as catty, or inept, or boring. Each of their personalities are drastically different in the comics and if they don’t capture that diversity of character it could leave a real sour taste in people’s mouths.

Blue Beetle and Booster Gold

Blue Beetle and Booster Gold

This is a personal wish of mine, above and beyond its actual potential to be made. This is the buddy cop movie of the DC universe which will help diversify their roster, and their emotional palette. These two characters together have such great chemistry in the pages of comics, that two action driven comics could be a perfect on-screen. Think 21 Jump Street but in space.

The hard part here is how to introduce these characters, as in the cinematic universe we are nowhere near these characters being revealed and depending on the path WB and DC choose to take for the rest of phase one, we may be a long ways off from getting to them. Still, snarky robots and buddy space cop comedy sounds like an instant hit.

Black Adam

Black_Adam

Black Adam is one of two movies I am suggesting that falls into the ‘Logan’ style of movie. A strong, potentially R rated movie about a character who struggles with who he is, his abilities and the morality of being such a powerhouse character.

My idea is to take the story arc from 52, where Black Adam is actually a hero at first, but has his family killed by the 4th horsemen of Apokolips Famine, and he goes berserk. His turn to anti-hero and eventual villain at the end of the movie then sets him up as the bad guy in a Shazam movie whether that means its a prequel or sets him up for a future movie is moot. You get fantastic character development, and gives The Rock a great surface to flex his acting and physical muscles on.

Hawkman

Hawkman

This is the other anti-hero character I think would fit well into the DCEU universe. He brings a bit more of the fantasy aspects, ala Wonder Woman or Marvel’s Thor to the universe, but also brings a darker, grittier world as Hawkman is much more of a troubled and violent character, when written well, than the rest of the JLA.

Interesting plots could be a twist on the Thanagarian War, which could introduce Hawkgirl into the DCEU. It gives us some great battles, incredible visuals and an interesting story line where the heroes finally know their team’s real identities, besides of course Batman, as he already knows. Another potential multi-movie plot could involve the Rann-Thanagar War, leading into the Death of Hawkman storyline. This doesn’t account for any one of my favourite fights in comics which is Superman & Batman vs Hawkman and Captain Marvel which would make for an epic second-to-third act battle.

 

DCTV

Warner Brothers TV

I have been an off again on again watcher of the DCTV universe. I liked Arrow season one and two, and disliked season three and four. I have been entertained with Flash, though my major problem with all of these shows is most prevalent on this series and that is the “CW romance, but I can’t say what I feel or do the right thing because it’s a twenty-three episode show” troupe. Legends of Tomorrow is wacky and entertaining, and while I haven’t seen the second season yet I actually had a really good time with Supergirl.

While the CW shows are great, I have always been a fan of the freedom that Netflix, Amazon and other services of the like have when making their shows. You see Preacher on AMC, Game of Thrones on HBO and Marvel characters on Netflix seeing good to great success because they are allowed to tackle more mature themes and stories, it also doesn’t hurt that we can see the trinity in effect; Swearing, Violence, and Nudity. If I could pick a property I would want to see, it would defintely be the following.

Etrigan the Demon

Etrigan

One of my favorite “oddball” characters, Etrigan the Demon could be a crazy fun trip through the ages. A demon tied to a hero of ancient time, Jason Blood, Etrigan represents the possibility for deep story and character driven development in the for of Jason Blood as they tell his story and how he ended up being bound to the Demon, as well as some fantastic fights scenes and special effect laden battles when Etrigan comes out to play. Also the struggle of these duel personalities makes for a great secondary macguffin.

Along with the clear horror ties this character has, he could also backdoor in others such as Swamp thing, Constantine and Deadman.  We would also be able to run the gambit of fantastical villains as we traipse through multiple timelines and era’s.

While I have my own wants and potential stories to be told, I would be interested in hearing what others want to see, and what the movie universe holds in store for you if you were in control.

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The Rumour Mill: How the DCEU seems to churne under weight of speculation

Warner brothers and DC are currently at the end of round three in a twelve round fight with Marvel. Shots have been exchanged but Marvel is, by the score card, ahead in points. If this were a movie we would be treated to a flash back to the beginning of the fighters run as they go through their trials and tribulations to get to this big fight. This is not a movie however and there is no Denzel to lead us through the current battle. Fight analogy aside the WB/DCEU is in a box office battle against Disney/Marvel for the superhero crown and the last four months have not been kind to the house that is to give us the Justice League.

batman

Arguably the most popular and well-known hero in the world Batman has been a good card for DC to use when they need to draw interest. Whether it’s the Christian Bales/Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy or the newly minted Affleck from Batman v Superman, our caped crusader draws in a large and enthusiastic crowd. For all its positives though, this latest iteration of Batman has brought some turmoil to all involved.

Before touching on the Batman as a solo project lets look back on the three entries already in DCEUs current cinematic universe, and as an aside I personally enjoyed all of these movies and while I had issues with aspects of each movie I feel they were in the “good” category rating in line with some of the  Marvel films.

DCs first entry was Man of Steel and it gave us the starting point for both tone and feel that Warner Brothers wanted to head in for their movie universe. Superman squares off against true warriors of his race as he battles to find his place in the world of man. The next movie jumps us forward into a pre-justice league style movie with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman featured prominently with cameos from the remaining team members; Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash. The holy trinity battle against Lex Luthor (from earth 3 it seems, but that’s neither here nor there) and the monster known as Doomsday. The last movie WB has put out is the Suicide Squad, a ragtag band of villains who get forced into work for a secret part of the government to take out even bigger threats.

You might think “Well why do those movies matter if we are going to talk about Batman” which is a great question. Ben Affleck was one of, if not the, best thing about Batman v Superman in many people’s eyes as he brought a great look and feel to both sides of the character. Fast forward to the last six months and the Batfleck has been the eye of the storm for many of the rumors and speculation. Before his movie Live by Night came out, Affleck seem to have carte blanche for his producer/director/co-writer/actor roles for the upcoming solo Batman movie. A weak performance at the box office and Life by Night might have actually cut off some of the freedom that Ben had. Couple this potential issue with statements like “I will only direct if the script is good” when he is writing the script and one can surmise he was getting pinned in a corner. We have now, over the last month, gotten information that Affleck is no longer directing and no longer writing. For the directing chair it seems Warner brothers is looking at Matt Reeves and the script has gotten one full rewrite treatment by Chris Terrio with a potential second heavy/full rewrite.

Add to the fact that there are rumors that the Terrio script was liked by Ben and WB, that it’s going in for full rewrites and the potentially A-bomb that Affleck wants out as Batman and fans have a plethora of potential reasons to be concerned with the future of this cinematic universe.

wonder-woman-logo

While all of the Batman news eats up most of the headlines, there has been rumblings that the Wonder Woman movie is not shaping up well. These rumors claim that the movie is a jumbled mess, which is a pretty serious accusation to throw around on a movie which has a huge load on its shoulders. Wonder Woman is the first female lead super hero movie to hit the big screens from either company, which is huge on its own right, but it is also another chance for DC and Warner Brothers to get the double thumbs up; a critical and box office success. Out of every DC movie I personally want to see Wonder Woman and Aquaman crush it, so these types of rumors kill me inside a bit.  On the positive side, the lack of mainstream coverage on this could be a good thing as these accusations of a poorly constructed movie could be nothing more than simply that, accusations.

flash-image

This brings us to the last movie I have heard a ton of rumors/issues about and that is the Flash. This movie has been struggling for over quite a while now with the numerous script rewrites and directors leaving the project which, in my opinion, puts it in the most jeopardy of cancellation or push back to 2019/2020. The Flash, tonally, is the lightest out of the entire DC movie roster as the character is often depicted as the comic relief or heart of the team. With the delays and rumours about this project stagnating and being slow to start-up again, it is worrying on how Flash will fit into the overall DCEU universe, especially when he is likely to be the vehicle that Cyborg will also be introduced with.

So all of these seemingly negative aspects for Warner Brothers and DCs cinematic universe are more than enough to give the average person pause. It seems, if you only listen to the rumors, that nothing is going well and everything is doom and gloom. This type of mind-set that the general audience can get is what really hampers the studio’s ability to get the most out of their movies. While it’s not strictly a competition many compare Marvel studios and the success their films have had over DC as a marker for what success is, usually the billion dollar mark, and when the DC films miss that mark, they get labeled as a “failure”. This is obviously false as a universally loved movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, made less than Batman v Superman, which was highly divisive with fans and critics alike.

At the end of the day, I think there is one thing that WB and DC could take from the Marvel studio’s style of story telling and that is to come up with a solid movie first, then add their respective character flavor to it. Oh and let’s stop announcing projects 10 years into the future please, as we know they are not going to stay in the places you initially mention them, and it looks pretty stupid when you have to cancel/move projects multiple times because of flash in the pan hype on something, and yes I am looking at you Birds of Prey movie.