Over the years, the pile of unrealized projects for cinema with DC characters far surpasses the films that actually saw the light of day. The reasons are many. There is a lack of leadership that understands and leads the publisher’s intellectual properties in Warner’s corridors. A plan is missing. Above all, they still need to understand the gold mine they have in their hands.
It wasn’t always like that. For years the only superheroes from the first team that made it to the movies were from DC – more specifically Superman and Batman. The first one received VIP treatment in 1978 with the absolute classic “Superman – The Movie”, by Richard Donner. The second took a chance a decade later on “Batman”, which Tim Burton released in 1989.
There were two phenomena that proved there was room for fantastic beings from the comic books on the big screen. “Superman II” (1980), “Superman III” (1983) and “Superman IV – In Search of Peace” (1987) saw the public and the quality decrease. “Batman – The Return” (1992), “Batman Forever” (1995) and “Batman & Robin” (1997) survived the great heroes in cinema until “X-Men” changed the game in 2000.
Unlike the competitor, however, DC had everything to score its characters in the cinema without so many mishaps. After all, the company has belonged to Warner since the 1970s, today a powerful multimedia conglomerate with arms in cinema, games, streaming and animation. Still, the house never seems to be tidy.
It may seem like an unfair comparison, but it is inevitable. Even with the chaos of a bankruptcy process, and years with its intellectual properties spread over dozens of studios, Marvel managed to bring order to the chaos and, after being acquired by Disney, nailed its cinematic universe as the most superhero series successful story.
DC, in turn, has always worked well in bubbles. Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy is the basis for much modern comic adaptation. Films like “V for Vendetta”, “Constantine” and “Watchmen”, which came out of the pages of their comics, managed to break through the hermeticism of fans to reach a wider audience.
The problem was the desire to ride the wave of competition and create a shared universe, without an architect behind it all. “The Man of Steel” is a decent adventure, which has continued in the “Batman vs. Superman” disasters and in two terrifying versions of “Justice League”. “Suicide Squad”, which inhabits the same continuity, was a disaster.
His solo efforts, such as “Aquaman”, Shazam! “And” Wonder Woman “had more respect and more success.” Joker “, which brings zero connection to any other film with the same characters, was applauded worldwide, won more than $ 1 billion and won an Oscar pair.
The road to success seems clear. Still, Warner insists on machine-gunning its own foot. The case of “New Gods” is absurd. Ava DuVernay, from the drama “Selma” and the spectacular series “Eyes That Damn”, was developing the script with writer Tom King, who became a superstar in the comics by leading Batman’s adventures until the end of last year.
The justification for canceling the project, a grand adventure of intergalactic gods who rule planets in constant war, was the presence of their villain, the cosmic despot Darkseid. Studio executives have concluded that he runs the risk of overexposure after appearing in half a dozen scenes from Zack Snyder’s version of “Justice League”.
I honestly believed that the news was April 1 prank. Darkseid, after all, at no time suggests its magnificence in “Justice League”. He is defeated in his first scene, suffers from amnesia for having forgotten the pianeta of his defeat and, when he finally faces the heroes, he confines himself to just that: facing. Criminally wasted in “Justice League”, Darkseid would have a chance to become a real threat in “New Gods”. The studio thought it better not to.
The case of “The Trench” is even more bizarre. James Wan, director of “Aquaman”, and responsible for the horror universe anchored by “Invocation of Evil” at Warner itself, was developing the spin off as a movie of abyssal monsters, which could open another door to this universe.
Not to mention that “Aquaman” earned more than $ 1 billion, and exploring your world would be logical. Not for the studio, which closed the drawer because developing an “Aquaman” sequence is apparently a good size.
Sitting on projects with enormous potential and letting them evaporate has become the studio’s specialty – and not today. Tim Burton saw his third “Batman” discarded, and Joel Schumacher himself, who took over the Batman series in the 1990s, was planning a return to the hero’s dark roots with “Batman Unchained”, which was only in the idea.
After that Darren Aronofsky worked with Frank Miller on “Batman: Year One” that came to nothing. The same for a version live action from “Batman Beyond”. Wolfgang Petersen’s ambitious “Batman vs. Superman”, with Jude Law as the Man of Steel and Colin Farrell as the Dark Knight, was also disconnected at the beginning of production.
Want more? Before Bryan Singer did his “Superman – The Return”, Warner spent millions on “Superman Reborn”, in which the hero would return in his son with Lois Lane (seriously), in “Superman Lives”, in which Tim Burton would direct Nicolas Cage as the Man of Steel, and in “Superman FlyBy”, written by JJ Abrams with Brett Ratner in the direction – a film that would profoundly change the hero’s mythology, since Krypton, for a start, would not explode.
Even recent projects have had a high investment in their development and have not moved. “Green Arrow: Escape from Super Max” had a cool concept, with Green Arrow isolated in a prison for super criminals. “Justice League: Mortal” was ready to be shot by George Miller (“Mad Max”), but Warner dropped out with the cast and crew already on the needle. Guillermo Del Toro worked on “Justice League Dark” and it didn’t move.
Apparently the studio will insist on the shared universe that did not take off. It is in this world that James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” takes place. It is in this world that “Black Adam”, with Dwayne Johnson, will be set. It’s the same world as the sequels to “Aquaman” and “Shazam!” It is this world that Andy Muschietti’s “The Flash” will try to impose some order.
Interestingly, “The Batman”, the new Batman movie with Robert Pattinson as the Dark Knight, under the direction of Matt Reeves, will be a totally independent adventure. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film will be set on Earth-2, a parallel reality within the DC universe. Good luck explaining this to the public.
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