I’m still a very big fan of the DC Extended Universe. Let’s get that out of the way first.
We’ve had a 72-hour period of news that was more than turbulent for the DCEU fanbase, which half intrigues me and half irritates me at the same time. I’ve said before that I am not a fan of the “white noise” that now dominates the conversation when it comes to these franchises in between movies, filled with everything from Reddit rumors, scooper “news” and official reports from major trades like Deadline, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. It’s gotten to the point where we are valuing the news surrounding these movies more than we are the movies themselves, which bothers me because I just want my movies. Seriously, that’s all I want and/or need here. Tell me what it is, who’s in it, what’s it about and when it releases. That’s all I need.
The world doesn’t work like that anymore, thanks largely to social media and the general impatience of the public when it comes to news now. Alright, I’ll deal with it. It is what it is and it fuels most of our conversations now while waiting for the next movie to release.
The downside is that when news happens, official or otherwise, it can either energize or torpedo the mood of an entire fanbase in one fell swoop, which is what a large portion of the DCEU fanbase is feeling right now. We were all largely happy and excited with the news about Birds of Prey(And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Aside from a few complaints about costumes and a debate on whether or not the movie should or will be rated R, it was a good day.
Then the Matt Reeves interview about his Batman movie, reiterating his approach and even mentioning a “Rogues Gallery.” That got a lot of people excited for that movie all over again, myself included.
Even the technically unrelated to the DCEU news that Zack Snyder is making his triumphant directorial return on Netflix with a zombie-heist movie got everyone in an excitable, positive mood. It was a good time to be a longtime DCEU fan.
Then Wednesday evening happened and a lot of those fans opened their windows, climbed out on the ledge and wondered if the fall was far enough to take away the pain they were feeling, metaphorically speaking of course.
I can’t calm anybody down about what’s going on with the franchise if you’re freaking out right now or are ready to abandon ship for whatever reason. All I can do is tell you how I process this whole thing and you can decide if you agree with me, or if you think I’m full of it. Either way is fine, I’ve dealt with both responses before.
So let’s address the Batman situation first. We have a release date. June 25, 2021. Awesome news. It fits with what Reeves said the day before in his interview and I’m looking forward to it. As for Ben Affleck, it’s been reported that he’s out as Batman and will be replaced with a younger actor. Several trades have said this, but at the same time the only direct thing we’ve seen up to the time of this posting is Affleck’s tweet:
If we’re being fair, there’s multiple ways to take this. The way most are taking it is that the writing is on the wall and he’s declaring that he’s out……even though he doesn’t actually say it, which is the way that some are taking this as well. We’ve had enough issues with trades and scoopers reporting things that were either incorrect, inaccurate or changing in the past, to be in a position where it’s understandable if someone doesn’t want to fully trust them now. It’s really not that difficult for WB or Affleck to directly say he’s out. This tweet is not direct at all, it’s just PR about the situation. I can’t fault anyone for thinking that it’s not official confirmation of anything because it really isn’t.
All that being said, I couldn’t care less if it is official or not at this point. The story has been beaten to death so badly over the last 2 years that now we’re in a spot where time itself is against us in my opinion, largely in the fact that Affleck is 46 years old and will be 47 this August. So you’re talking about a Batman movie that will release just a month or two before his 49th birthday. I know we love the idea of an aging Batman, but can you really expect him to be in “Batman shape” like that at this stage in his life? For the foreseeable future as well if the Reeves movie is successful at the box office?
I love Affleck’s Batman and continue to hail it as the greatest live action version of Batman we have ever seen. The size, the stature, the costume, the portrayal, all of it. Absolutely perfect for me and many others. I am sad that we will likely never see it again, but by the same token Affleck is the 8th actor in history to play the character in live action. He was never going to be the last one to play the role and whoever Reeves casts to replace him, I am confident will be very good. Reeves convinced me with his Apes movies that I trust him with the reins on the Batman movie and I’ll be there front and center for it, as I’m sure most others will be, even if they’re saying they’re out today over hurt feelings.
Alright, so there’s that. Now for the Suicide Squad sequel, which also now has an August 6, 2021 release date, which is also awesome, but there’s the question of who is now in charge of it and what is going to be happening with it, both of which is mired in fanbase controversy for multiple reasons. Let’s get’s the big one out of the way first:
I’ve always understood and fully accepted why James Gunn was fired from Marvel Studios. It was a question of optics, bottom line. Disney and Marvel Studios have an image that they are intent on maintaining and Gunn’s extracurricular reprehensible activity on Twitter was a horrible look. People have been fired from corporations for doing far less than what he did on social media and that’s the world we live in. People have to adapt to that, and Gunn learned an expensive lesson in that situation.
If what he did offends you to the point where he is irredeemable to you, you have every right to feel that way. No one can tell you otherwise. By the same token, if you think he got a bad rap and what he did should not have incurred such a heavy price, you have every right to feel that way too. The thing is, it’s more a 50-50 reaction than some people want to admit, otherwise he wouldn’t even be considered for anything else by any studio. Not in today’s social climate.
So now he’s in charge of what is being reported as a “reboot” of Suicide Squad. Not a reboot of the DCEU, but of that core group and series, which from what comic readers have said is not unheard of with the Suicide Squad because it has been many different groups over the years, so making a new movie with a new group isn’t out of the ordinary at all for that property.
We’re in a place though as a fanbase where we are only one movie into the new direction that Walter Hamada and the DCEU brain trust have for the franchise, so there are still a lot of questions being asked by fans about where it is headed tonally and structurally. We know that they are focused on “solo” movies for at least the next two years now, with 3 currently in production and set for release in 2019 and 2020, and now two more in development set for release in 2021, and what bugs some fans is a few glaring omissions, like The Flash movie, which is at the mercy of Ezra Miller’s commitment to Fantastic Beasts, and of course another Superman film, which is at the mercy of contract negotiations with Henry Cavill. I’m personally waiting on any more word about Ava Duvernay’s New Gods film.
Now you’re telling us that not only are those movies not on the docket for the next two years, but the guy who did Guardians of the Galaxy is taking over Suicide Squad. That’s about three bridges too far for a lot of DCEU fans right now, even in the wake of Aquaman’s continued success and Shazam’s pending release on April 5.
I’m in a wait and see approach on Gunn. I don’t sanction his idiotic and horrific tweets one bit, but I feel like getting fired from Disney and being ostracized by a lot of people is pretty solid penance, assuming that’s the worst he has done, which so far it is and hopefully it remains that way. I understand if people can’t get past that. As for his approach to Suicide Squad, I’m unwilling to just assume that he’s being asked to make a carbon copy of Guardians of the Galaxy for the DCEU, which is what so many people are assuming will be the case. If he does that, I won’t be impressed but I’m willing to actually wait and see what his plan is for that movie and how it pertains to the rest of the franchise. As for holdovers from the first movie, I really just want Viola Davis, Will Smith and Joel Kinnaman back. If you can only get one, then Davis as Amanda Waller for sure. I want an actress of her stature and talent to remain connected to this franchise, especially in a role that she knocked out of the park the first time. If Gunn does that, I’m already in a good place with him for the future of the film itself. I say let’s see what he does first before assuming he’s “Marvelizing” anything here.
I know a lot of DCEU fans are in a bad place right now emotionally, especially on the heels of the new alleged information about Zack Snyder’s original plans for Justice League and DCEU. I’ve said already on Twitter though that I have no desire to stay lost in the sadness of what this franchise could have been had WB just stuck to the plan that Snyder originally designed. Aside from the fact that they didn’t, it wasn’t a long-term plan and to be honest with you, while I don’t want the DCEU to be a carbon copy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at all, I still want the DCEU to have a long-term plan, just one of their own.
It’s difficult for me to look at the details of what Snyder was going to originally do, however incredible and awesome it would have been, and think that a long-term franchise plan was viable out of it. I’m sure many fans would have been just fine with five movies and nothing else, so long as they got everything they wanted in those five, but I do want more than that and I think the direction that WB is going with now, which is to allow their creatives freedom to tell their stories without being hitched to an overarching franchise plot line, is a solid recipe for long-term growth. We’re at 6 movies now, and there are 5 more set for release through 2021, and that’s not counting the Joker elseworlds movie, the new DC Super Pets film also set for 2021 release, or the rumored Batman Beyond film idea. I love Snyder, but would all of this even be possible in the same universe under his old plan? Maybe, but it’s tough to see that and right now it doesn’t matter because WB’s plan is WB’s plan, and finally it feels like they actually have a structured one that is looking to build consistency instead of hype. I’m all for that.
I’m not on the ledge at all with this, just being honest. Things change in Hollywood and movie production all the time. This is no different than what any other studios have done and continue to do in the development of their projects. I’m really just ready to move forward and enjoy what is to come, because right now it looks like a whole lot is headed our way and that’s something to be celebrated, not mourned. That’s just how I feel about it.
See you all at Shazam in April.