The future of the DC Extended Universe is finally becoming a little bit clearer. After a troubled start, Warner Bros. appears to have settled on a direction for its superhero universe. Their focus isn’t on team-up movies like Justice League 2, but rather on solo films – including ones that feature lesser-known franchises such as Aquaman or Shazam!.
Over the last 24 hours, Warner Bros. has clarified its superhero slate all the way up to at least 2021. The success of Sony’s Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse has reportedly inspired DC Film to begin work on their own animated superhero movie, Batman Beyond, based on the classic ’90s animated series and rumored to be looking for an African-American voice actor as the star. But that turned out to only be the beginning of a massive news days for DC fans, as the studio chose to lift the lid on both Matt Reeve’s The Batman and the upcoming Suicide Squad sequel.
The news fell as thick and fast as a snowstorm, and ironically it proved pretty hard for many fans to keep up with it all. One minute an interview would drop in which Matt Reeves dropped hints about his plot, but said a firm release date hadn’t been fixed; the next minute an official release date would be announced. For all those struggling to keep up, here’s a round-up of all the latest DCEU news.
- This Page: All The Latest News About The Batman
- Page 2: All The Latest News About Suicide Squad 2 (And DC Super Pets)
First the biggest news of all: Ben Affleck is hanging up the cowl, handing over to a brand new Batman. There have long been rumors that director Matt Reeves wanted a fresh start, aiming to tell a story featuring a younger version of the Dark Knight rather than the grizzled, experienced hero seen in the DCEU to date. Meanwhile, Affleck’s hardly been secretive about his growing unhappiness in the role. He was reluctant to sign up with Warner Bros. in the first place, having already been burned by a superhero franchise once before, but was unable to pass up the chance to play his childhood hero. When Affleck stepped down as writer, director, and producer of The Batman in 2017, it was viewed as a sign that he would eventually leave the DCEU.
It’s a real shame, given Affleck’s performance in Batman V Superman proved one of the highlights of the film. That was intended to be the second chapter in a five-film story arc by director Zack Snyder, one that would reportedly end with Batman making the ultimate sacrifice. Unfortunately, Batman V Superman‘s poor reception led DC to pivot, with Snyder replaced on Justice League by Joss Whedon. Whedon literally reshot half that film, to the detriment of Batman’s character; after some stunning action scenes in Batman V Superman, the most the Dark Knight could do against the Parademons was sit in the Batmobile and spray bullets at them. Worse still, Whedon’s altered script saddled Batman with some pretty lame jokes, and there was no real sense of continuity between the Batman of Batman V Superman and the character in Justice League.
Affleck could well have become the definitive Batman; but now his era is officially over, and he’s moving on to other projects. There’s no news yet about his replacement.
It’s not all bad news for The Batman. Warner Bros. has given the film an official release date: June 25, 2021. It seems Matt Reeve’s script is finished, and he’s preparing to move on to casting. This matches up nicely with recent reports that Reeves was hoping to begin filming in November this year, so casting announcements should be expected over the next few months.
Naturally, Reeves is keeping quiet about the plot, but this much is now certain: it will feature a number of Batman villains. “There will be a Rogues Gallery,” Reeves explained in one interview. Batman is well-known for having one of the best, most well-developed rogues’ galleries in comics, rivaled only by Spider-Man. This hasn’t really been demonstrated on the big screen, though, with the films focusing on major names like the Joker, Catwoman, and the Penguin. The DCEU has already demonstrated a willingness to make far deeper cuts into Batman lore, with Suicide Squad including characters like Harley Quinn and Killer Croc, and it looks as though Reeves intends to continue that trend. Reeves was predictably tight-lipped about just who he’d use, although he didn’t dispute the possibility that Josh Gad could play the Penguin. He simply stressed that he “loves” Gad and is “good friends” with him.
In terms of tone and style, it sounds as though Reeves intends The Batman to be unlike any Batman movie ever made before. He wants to explore Batman’s skills as a detective rather than just portray him as a (rich) vigilante action hero. “I’d love this to be one where when we go on that journey of tracking down the criminals and trying to solve a crime,” Reeves observed. “It’s going to allow his character to have an arc so that he can go through a transformation.“
Moving on from The Batman, Warner Bros. has officially confirmed that the Suicide Squad sequel is titled The Suicide Squad. While it’s not exactly original, this title does make it sound like a complete relaunch of the franchise, which makes sense; David Ayer’s 2016 blockbuster was critically panned.
According to Warner Bros., The Suicide Squad will release on August 6, 2021, making that year a good one for DC fans. There are reports that the film will feature mostly new characters, i.e. Squad members who weren’t in the first movie. That actually fits pretty well with the original comic book concept, where each iteration of the Suicide Squad has been very different to the one before; Amanda Waller has always tended to recruit whichever criminals happened to be in her cells, forcing them to work as part of her black ops team. But this definitely makes The Suicide Squad sound like a relaunch of the franchise.
Perhaps the most exciting news for this movie, though, is that James Gunn is in talks to direct The Suicide Squad. There’s a certain irony to this; one of the reasons the first Suicide Squad struggled was because DC attempted to turn the film into a stylistic copy of Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Fired from Marvel last year after a scandal blew up on social media, Gunn soon found his way to Warner Bros., and signed up as writer for the sequel. The script is reportedly “very much rooted in Gunn’s vibe,” so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him step up as director as well.
Finally, the most unexpected news is that DC is also planning to release a DC Super Pets movie on May 21, 2021. The Super-Pets got their beginning in 1962 when they appeared in Adventure Comics #293, and since then the idea of an anthropomorphic super-team has stuck around. Much like the Justice League, the Super-Pets team has included a host of different characters, including Ace the Bat-Hound, Krypto the Super-Dog, and Streaky the Super-Cat. Last year it was announced that Warner Bros. intended to make a movie, with Jared Stern as director. It seems that really is going ahead.
Ironically, at this stage a lot more is known about the future of the DC superhero slate than about their rival, Marvel Studios, who are keeping their long-term plans under wraps for now. Still, one thing’s for sure – 2021 will be a big year for DC.