The answer to the issues plaguing the DCEU just might be to finally remove the films directed by Zack Snyder from continuity. As extreme as that sounds – after all, the DC Extended Universe was born from Snyder’s Man of Steel – severing the upcoming slate of DC films from the SnyderVerse is the cleanest way to ‘save’ the DCEU and its future. There are reports that the studio is looking to “reset” the DCEU; Warners recognizes that “some parts of the previous movies didn’t work” – which is a response to the criticism Snyder’s films have garnered. Therefore, a reset should actually go all the way and completely separate future DC films from the continuity of Zack Snyder’s films, as well as Suicide Squad, but with a twist: by fully establishing the Multiverse.
The DCEU has to escape its past. It was forged from Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman V Superman while David Ayers’ Suicide Squad spins out from the events of BvS. All three films did well at the box office but both Batman v Superman and Man of Steel fell short of WB’s expectations. In an attempt to adjust for audience reactions, Warner Bros. turned what should have been the DCEU’s surefire crowning glory, Justice League, into an epic failure creatively, critically, and with audiences. It’s the biggest disappointment and the lowest grossing DCEU film. While all of those movies certainly have fans and supporters, they also come with a huge amount of baggage preventing the DCEU from cleanly moving forward in the post-Snyder era. All future DCEU movies now have to work to change course from what was originally laid out.
The apparent exit of Henry Cavill as Superman is due to the studio having no plans for more Superman movies in the near future. Meanwhile, the status of Ben Affleck as Batman is a huge question mark. Regardless of what happens with Affleck, Matt Reeves’ The Batman, which is still in development, is about a young Dark Knight and it’s not clear if and how Affleck would participate. However, the loss of these two stars actually creates a new opportunity for Warners to move forward with the DCEU without Batman and Superman – the two icons most heavily identified with Zack Snyder’s films – at its center.
Unless they cut the cord, the DCEU’s future will still be plagued by the canon of Snyder’s films. Justice League may have ‘rebooted’ Superman, but fans will always remember Cavill’s Man of Steel snapping General Zod’s neck, Affleck’s Batman ruthlessly killing and branding thugs, unresolved plot holes like Batman’s Knightmare, and everything else that surrounded and defined Snyder’s vision. But instead of merely ignoring his films or pretending those movies ‘didn’t happen’ (which would anger the fans who do love those movies), they can create a new canon via a ‘New DCEU’. And this means making the DCEU movies a Multivers! Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker movie has already put the Multiverse concept in motion, but here’s how playing into the rules of the Multiverse can fix the DCEU and give it a clean slate:
- This Page: A DCEU Movie Multiverse And How It Affects Wonder Woman
- Page 2: How A New DECU Movie Universe Can Unite With The Snyder Verse
The Snyder Movies’ Canon Can Be Set On A Different Earth
Warner Bros. should set Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League aside as their own canon and consider all of the future DCEU movies as happening on a different Earth. DC fans are already familiar with the concept of the Multiverse, and the Arrowverse on The CW uses it with no issues from fans who ‘get’ it. A movie reset like this isn’t unprecedented; the X-Men films attempted their own version of a reset after X-Men: Days of Future Past wiped X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine from continuity. The New DCEU would be more ambitious, however, and could work better than what X-Men did.
By firmly placing Snyder’s films in their own universe, it would create the benefit of freeing up all future DCEU films with a necessary clean slate and let them move past the hangups audiences have with Snyder’s films. Aspects that were controversial, unpopular, or burdensome simply get waved away and the New DCEU gets the chance to move forward in ways it couldn’t if it remainsed tethered to the universe Snyder built.
It would be tricky, no doubt, to explain the Multiverse to general audiences, but WB wouldn’t necessarily have to… at first. The studio wouldn’t even need to make any type of public statement or explanation; they can simply proceed with their current plans while subtly establishing in each forthcoming film that all of it is happening in a different universe, both by their general tone and by not referencing the Snyder films at all. Later on, The Flash movie can shock fans (especially those who are fans of Zack Snyder’s films) by being the bridge that reveals the Snyder Verse did happen but it all happened somewhere else!
Here’s how it all could work, starting with Wonder Woman…
Wonder Woman Becomes The Heart of the ‘New DCEU’
Wonder Woman is the DCEU’s only film that was both a box office smash and highly regarded by audiences. With Cavill’s Superman on the outs and Affleck’s Batman uncertain, Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince is now the top property in the DCEU. Since Wonder Woman is both the most popular and most profitable movie (it’s the highest grossing DCEU movie in North America, though Batman V Superman grossed the most worldwide), she is the ideal character to be the centerpiece of the New DCEU.
The beauty of Wonder Woman and her sequel is that it’s relatively easy to separate them both from the continuity of Zack Snyder’s films. Yes, she made her on-screen debut in Batman V Superman and she was in Justice League, but under the Multiverse concept, those ‘modern day’ events happened on a different Earth. Both of her solo films are set in the past and can thus be considered separate – they happened on the ‘new’ Earth. This eliminates the lingering plot hole where Diana is said to have not been active for nearly a century before she donned her armor in BvS, which is being contradicted by her solo films.
The first Wonder Woman film would forge the history of the ‘New DCEU.’ It establishes the Greek gods, Diana being active in World War I (traits both Earths can share), but diverges with Wonder Woman 1984, which depicts her adventures in the Me Decade. This then creates a great hook for Wonder Woman 3: how will she debut in ‘the present day’? (After all, the events fans saw in BvS and Justice League didn’t happen on this Earth).
The lone detail that creates an issue is the famous photograph of Diana, Steve Trevor, and their allies in 1918. She receives this from Bruce Wayne in the modern day scene in Wonder Woman, but it can later be explained and recontextualized that she got it from a different Bruce Wayne, i.e. whoever plays the role in Matt Reeves’ film. (Luckily, Ben Affleck didn’t appear in Wonder Woman.) Under the Multiverse plan, Wonder Woman essentially becomes the ‘heart’ of the New DCEU, and it’s a fitting position to place her.
Aquaman And Shazam Become The ‘First” Modern Day New DCEU Movies
Director James Wan has already stated that Aquaman will be a standalone story and will not feature any Justice League cameos. This is perfect for the Multiverse plan; if there are any Easter eggs or references to Justice League, they can just be edited out before the film’s release in December to keep Aquaman self-contained. This would let Aquaman establish Arthur Curry and his undersea kingdom as part of the New DCEU and it would eliminate the Justice League plot hole of Atlanteans creating air bubbles so they can speak underwater, which Wan isn’t doing in his film. Since it’s the next DC movie to be released, Aquaman would become the first New DCEU film set in the modern day.
Shazam! is a bit more complicated; Superman’s example is what Billy Batson follows to be a superhero and there are also plenty of DCEU Easter eggs in the film. However, sans a Henry Cavill Superman appearance, these can easily be contextualized as references to events that happened in the New DCEU. Simply give Superman’s planned cameo to Gal Gadot so that Wonder Woman is the hero who gives Billy an attaboy, which would mark Diana Prince’s first modern-day appearance in the New DCEU.
Every New DCEU Movie That Follows Gets A Clean Slate
Matt Reeves’ The Batman can reintroduce the Dark Knight as a younger hero without any of the hassles of whether the new actor cast as the Dark Knight lines up with the older version Ben Affleck played. This also frees the new Batman from the burden of sharing the stage with and possibly being overshadowed by Affleck. Reeves’ Batman simply becomes the New DCEU’s Batman and this allows for the potential Bat-Family films like Nightwing and Batgirl to organically join the universe without having to worry about synching up with Snyder’s continuity, like the dead Robin in Ben Affleck’s Batcave.
Birds of Prey is reportedly a top priority at Warners, and that all-female team-up can now become the first appearance of Harley Quinn, who can still be played by Margot Robbie. The problematic Suicide Squad can be left behind, and that includes Jared Leto’s Joker, which was not a well-received version of the character. Rather, if Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker movie proves to be popular with fans, he could then potentially become the New DCEU’s Joker. (However, it’s unclear whether the Joaquin version would contextually fit in with the mainline DCEU. If not, Leto can return as the Joker, but re-imagined into a version more fitting with how DC fans prefer the character.)
Supergirl is another big focus of the studio, and the Girl of Steel’s solo film will reportedly be set in the 1970s. This suits the New DCEU perfectly; there would be no need to retcon how Supergirl could have been on Earth 35 years before the Kryptonian invasion in Man of Steel – they simply happened in different universes. The Multiverse also gives Warners the leeway to take their time to figure out what to do with Superman; whether to bring back Henry Cavill or recast the role and introduce a new Man of Steel into the New DCEU.
The Flash Can Later Unite The Multiverse
The Flash can ultimately be the key to reward fans of Zack Snyder’s movies. Whatever direction the Fastest Man Alive’s solo film eventually takes, it would be a mind-blowing crowd-pleaser for fans if Barry Allen discovers he can cross dimensions at Superspeed, and then he discovers the Multiverse and meets the version of himself from Justice League. This would drop the curtain on the Multiverse, revealing there were two worlds all along!
The Flash crossing Earths would also alleviate bad feelings from fans about the DCEU ignoring Zack Snyder’s work moving forward. It would establish that his films did happen and indeed ‘count’ while also letting the New DCEU have its cake and eat it too. With a Multiverse, fans get the best of both worlds; the New DCEU gets a necessary clean slate to build a new, brighter, more hopeful universe that doesn’t need to overcome the past darkness of Zack Snyder’s films, but it also creates the potential to intersect with the SnyderVerse sometime in the future.
This is admittedly an ambitious, complex plan, but the rewards could be great. Everyone wins with the Multiverse, especially DC fans, but the first step for Warner Bros. is cutting the cord from Zack Snyder’s continuity and creating a New DCEU.