What's next for the DC Cinematic Universe?

Posted April 10

With “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” in theaters and not a total flop, despite some less-than-enthusiastic reviews, the DC Cinematic Universe is finally underway.

Even taking a completely different approach than Marvel, however, Batman, Superman and the rest of their super friends have a lot of catching up to do.

Here’s everything we know so far about each of the movies announced in DC’s rapidly expanding cinematic universe and what audiences can expect.

“Suicide Squad”

Director: David Ayer

Cast: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Ben Affleck, Cara Delevingne, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Common, Scott Eastwood, Adam Beach, Karen Fukuhara

Release date: Aug. 5, 2016

The rest: Think “The Dirty Dozen” but with a ragtag team of mostly second-tier DC supervillains such as Harley Quinn, Killer Croc and Captain Boomerang.

In case that sounds a bit lightweight next to the epic grudge match that was “Batman v. Superman,” there is at least one reason all of fandom will definitely be paying attention come August: “Suicide Squad” is set to feature the first on-screen appearance of Jared Leto’s Joker. Leto’s tatted-up take on Batman’s archrival has already proven divisive among fans, but at the very least, the Oscar winner reportedly went full character actor for the role, getting up to all sorts of Joker-esque mischief, such as sending Margot Robbie a live rat as a present, according to dailymail.com.

After some of the negative reactions to the overly grim tone of “Batman v Superman,” Warner Bros. has opted to do extensive reshoots on “Suicide Squad” to lighten the mood, according to El Mayimbe of Latino-Review.com. Previously, actor Adam Beach, who plays Slipknot in the movie, told E! that things got so dark that director David Ayer hired an on-set therapist for his cast.

“Wonder Woman”

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Ewen Bremner

Release date: June 2, 2017

The rest: Even for a lot of “Batman v Superman” detractors, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman turned out to be a hit.

Appropriately enough, the character’s first-ever standalone movie will be an origin story. Set 100 years before “Batman v Superman,” it will track Diana’s encounter with a downed World War I pilot, Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine), and her first experience leaving the Amazonian island of Themyscira.

Speaking with IGN recently, Gadot said of her character in the upcoming film, “Wonder Woman is different than the Wonder Woman that you're going to see in (‘Batman v Superman’). She’s more naive and pure, and she’s this young idealist who does not understand the complexities of men and life.”

“Justice League Part One”

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Amber Heard, J.K. Simmons

Release date: Nov. 17, 2017

The rest: While several other members of DC’s premier superhero team were glimpsed in “Batman v Superman,” this will be the first time they will all come together on the big screen.

Writer Chris Terrio, who co-wrote “Batman v Superman” and won an Oscar for his script for “Argo,” recently shed some light on what audiences can look forward to. Speaking with The Wall Street Journal, he said, “I expect ‘Justice League’ will be tonally not quite as dark as ‘Batman v Superman.’ From that point of view, I felt compelled to go back and try to lift us and myself into a different tonal place because I think when you write a darker film, sometimes you want to redeem it all a bit.”

As for plot details, everything is speculation at this point. Rumored villains include Brainiac, whom Snyder previously indicated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly was a candidate “down the road,” and Darkseid.

“The Flash”

Director: Seth Grahame-Smith

Cast: Ezra Miller

Release date: March 16, 2018

The rest: So far, there isn’t a whole lot of information about this one, and what there is might not inspire a ton of confidence in fans of the character.

Original writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“The LEGO Movie”), who after back-to-back-to-back hits can seemingly do no wrong, jumped ship to instead direct Lucasfilm’s Han Solo movie.

As a replacement, Warner Bros. made the somewhat head-scratching decision to hire writer Seth Grahame-Smith, whose past credits include comedy-horror duds such as “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and “Dark Shadows,” as well as the book on which the recent “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is based. “The Flash” will be the first movie Grahame-Smith has ever directed.

What is clear is that this version of the character will have nothing to do with Grant Gustin’s portrayal on TV. Like Gustin, star Ezra Miller will play the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen (sorry, all you Jay Gerrick nuts out there).

And that’s about it.

Miller has been extremely enthusiastic about the opportunity to put his spin on the character, though, proclaiming his love of the TV show and comics on numerous occasions. “I've been a comic guy, but I'm going in as hard as possible,” he told MTV last July (via Bustle). “Because I have a serious excuse to. I have the ultimate license to geek out so hard all the time!”


Director: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard

Release date: July 27, 2018

The rest: Jason Momoa’s look as the Atlantean hero was revealed as far back as last year. With more than two years to go before Aquaman’s solo movie actually hits theaters, it’s not at all surprising that there haven’t been any huge developments since then.

Director James Wan, who is better known for horror movies such as “Insidious” and “The Conjuring,” stressed to IGN that he hopes “Aquaman” will be a lot of “fun.”

During a panel at Wondercon (as reported by Slashfilm), he told reporters he is excited at the prospect of bringing to the big screen a character that no one has ever seen before and being able to develop a world unlike anything explored so far in superhero movies.

“That’s the thing about Aquaman that’s cool, is he’s not an alien, right?” Wan said. “He’s from our planet, and he’s from a society that we’re not privy to in the context of the story. Isn’t it crazy to think that we’ve explored space more than we have explored the depths of our ocean? That just fires up my imagination about potential sea monsters and cool creatures, that kind of stuff.”


Director: TBA

Cast: Dwayne Johnson

Release date: April 5, 2019

The rest: “Shazam” isn’t directly tied to the Justice League and is said to “have a tone unto itself.” Despite that, Warner Bros. has confirmed that “Shazam” will take place in the same universe as its Justice League movies, according to Screen Rant, allowing for a possible Henry Cavill/The Rock throwdown at some future date.

Which is made all the more plausible by the fact that The Rock will not be playing the titular hero (aka Captain Marvel, but not to be confused with any of the multiple Marvel comics characters who bear that name), but rather the antihero Black Adam, a former slave-turned-villain-turned-hero who, in the comics, has occasionally run afoul of Superman, as well.

“Justice League Part Two”

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot

Release date: June 14, 2019

The rest: All we know so far is that Chris Terrio might not be coming back to write this one, as he told The Wall Street Journal, calling “Justice League Part One” the “most rigorous intellectual exercise” in his career as a writer.

Snyder, on the other hand, is most likely going to remain in the director’s chair as there are plans, as reported by Cinema Blend, to film the two parts back-to-back a la “Lord of the Rings.”

Fans can also probably expect the core team of “metahumans” from the first film (i.e., Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg) to grow in the second installment. (Hawkman, anybody?)


Director: TBA

Cast: Ray Fisher

Release date: April 3, 2020

The rest: Thanks to “Batman v Superman,” there is already some indication of where the creative minds at Warner Bros. are headed with this character. Explaining his brief appearance in that film, Snyder told Entertainment Weekly, “I really wanted to show Cyborg’s birth because I feel like he plays such a strong part coming up, and I really wanted to give a sense of him. I really want (the audience) to know how far he’s come.”

According to Den of Geek, there are rumors that a Cyborg movie could wind up getting rejiggered into a Teen Titans movie.

“Green Lantern Corps”

Director: TBA

Cast: TBA

Release date: June 19, 2020

The rest: No concrete information about this one has been revealed as of yet, but there are some tantalizing rumors, including that audiences could see Hal Jordan (the Green Lantern played by Ryan Reynolds in the critically lambasted 2011 movie) team up with John Stewart (another Green Lantern, not the comedian) in what is being described as “‘Lethal Weapon’ in space,” according to Cinema Blend.

The fact that the title was changed last summer from “Green Lantern,” as originally announced, to “Green Lantern Corps” does seem to support this.

On a side note, it will be interesting to see whether a Green Lantern (or multiple Green Lanterns, for that matter) makes an appearance in either of the Justice League movies before taking off on his own solo adventure, or if he will be an MCU-style “Phase 2” addition as the DCCU expands its scope.

Rumored/not yet announced

A solo Batman movie: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ben Affleck has written a script for his own Batman movie with the intention of possibly directing it as well. Longstanding rumors point to a possible release date sometime in 2018, although this has yet to be confirmed.

“Lobo”: “Wonder Woman” scribe Jason Fuchs was recently hired to write a draft of this. Speculation is that Lobo could become the DCCU equivalent of Deadpool.

Blue Beetle and Booster Gold: “Arrow” and “The Flash” producer Greg Berlanti is allegedly directing this team-up, described as a “superhero buddy cop movie,” according to The Tracking Board.

“Dark Universe” (aka Justice League Dark): Guillermo del Toro wrote a script for a movie that would bring together all of DC’s horror characters, such as John Constantine, Etrigan the Demon and Swamp Thing, among others.

Jeff Peterson is a native of Utah Valley and studied humanities and history at Brigham Young University. Along with the Deseret News, he also contributes to the film discussion website TheMovieScrutineer.com.


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