It has long been acknowledged that the DC Extended Universe, Warner Bros/DC’s attempt to create their own series of overlapping films in a similar vein to that of Marvel Studios, got off to a rather shaky start.
However, after the lukewarm reception of the first DCEU films ‘Man of Steel,’ ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’ and ‘Suicide Squad,’ and – by contrast – the far more enthusiastic response to this year’s ‘Wonder Woman,’ it seems the top brass at DC are taking stock and rethinking things accordingly.
And it seems one of the key decisions is to dial back the emphasis on the shared nature of the DCEU.
Speaking to Vulture, DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson explains, “Our intention, certainly, moving forward is using the continuity to help make sure nothing is diverging in a way that doesn’t make sense, but there’s no insistence upon an overall story line or interconnectivity in that universe.”
Nelson and DC chief creative officer Geoff Johns recognise that the over-complicated world-building/sequel set-ups of ‘Batman V Superman’ and ‘Suicide Squad’ were a big part of what put many viewers off – whereas the simpler, more standalone nature of ‘Wonder Woman’ made it considerably more accessible.
Says Johns, “[‘Wonder Woman’]’s not about another movie. Some of the movies do connect the characters together, like ‘Justice League.’ But, like with ‘Aquaman’... our goal is not to connect ‘Aquaman’ to every movie.”
This move toward more distinct storytelling may also explain the thinking behind the planned ‘Joker’ origin movie set to cast a new actor in the role, which even ‘Suicide Squad’ Joker actor Jared Leto has admitted to being a bit confused about; not to mention ‘The Batman’ director Matt Reeves’ apparent back-and-forth over whether or not his film will be set in the DCEU.
The scale of these rethinks on the DCEU have long been apparent from behind the scenes changes on ‘Justice League,’ with Joss Whedon reportedly rewriting and reshooting a large portion of the film to make it more self-contained, and the originally announced ‘Justice League 2’ being withdrawn from the Warners/DC slate – although, should ‘Justice League’ prove as big a hit as ‘Wonder Woman’ (which has a sequel pencilled in for 2019), it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a second film come back on the agenda.
We’ll see how well ‘Justice League’ goes down once it opens in cinemas on 17 November.