At a cru­cial time for the DCEU, our panel of­fers ex­pert in­sight on a su­per­hero uni­verse look­ing to its fu­ture — and past

Empire (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Where does the DCEU go next? We have an­swers (and some ed­u­cated guesses).

IT’S BEEN HALF a decade since the DC Ex­tended Uni­verse launched with Man Of Steel, and at times it still feels a lit­tle like it’s play­ing catch-up: while Marvel lux­u­ri­ates in bil­lion-dol­lar suc­cesses and glow­ing crit­i­cal notices, the home of ban­ner stars like Bat­man and Su­per­man has been forced to ac­cept the sil­ver medal in the su­per­hero race. And yet! Sud­denly, it seems like an ex­cit­ing time to be a DC fan, with a glut of promis­ing projects re­cently an­nounced, strong tal­ent on the ros­ter, and shock se­quel rev­e­la­tions — all steered by new boss Wal­ter Ha­mada. Here, Em­pire tack­les the ten big ques­tions fac­ing the uni­verse as it en­ters its pivotal next phase.

1 Wait, Steve Trevor is alive?

DAN JOLIN: Ap­par­ently so: he’ll be back for next year’s Won­der Woman se­quel. Warner Bros. didn’t hold back with its Won­der Woman 1984 re­veal, putting Pine’s sup­pos­edly ex­ploded World War I ace in a dodgy black track­suit, stand­ing con­spic­u­ously in a shop­ping mall. Af­ter Su­per­man’s Mother Box-aided re­turn in Jus­tice League, we shouldn’t be too sur­prised. Be­sides, there’ s Trevor res­ur­rec­tion prece­dent in the comics (of course), which could well make this a re­born Steve — or a nasty alternative ver­sion from a dif­fer­ent uni­verse, as in one Won­der Woman sto­ry­line. Then again, he might not be the Trevor we think he is. Per­haps he’s a Back To The Fu­ture Part Ii-style looka­like de­scen­dant;

that was a trick pulled in the Won­der Woman TV show, with ac­tor Lyle Wag­goner play­ing both Steve (in the show a World War II hero) and Steve Jr. Or maybe he’s not Steve Trevor AT ALL. The DC uni­verse does have its fair share of shapeshifters. One mad-but-ap­peal­ing the­ory posits he could be Mar­tian Man­hunter, tak­ing Steve’s hu­manly form to try and win Diana over in some way. That… could work?

What does the 1984 set­ting mean 2 for Won­der Woman?

HELEN O’HARA: For all that we gain in hair vol­ume and shell suits, a 1980s set­ting throws up se­ri­ous Won­der Woman time­line is­sues (how can she be openly su­per­heroic in 1984 if she’s deeply hid­den in the present? Did no­body have a cam­corder?). How­ever, the era of­fers in­ter­est­ing Cold War pos­si­bil­i­ties: this was the year Rea­gan was re-elected, that the Soviet Navy en­dured the Severo­morsk dis­as­ter and the USSR boy­cotted the Los An­ge­les Olympics. The Wash­ing­ton film­ing lo­ca­tions could re­late to that elec­tion, but planned film­ing in Tener­ife and Fuerteven­tura, both of which have handy deserts, may sug­gest Diana’s in­volved with the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

What will the Todd Phillips Joker 3 movie look like?

DAN JOLIN: Well, it’s early days, but we know Phillips’ film will star Joaquin Phoenix (good cast­ing) in an ori­gin story which, like the new WW, will be set in the ’80s. In­trigu­ingly, it’s go­ing to shoot on lo­ca­tion in New York City from Septem­ber with a rel­a­tively mod­est bud­get of

$55 mil­lion and the prom­ise that it’ll have a gritty crime vibe. The pres­ence of Mar­tin Scors­ese as pro­ducer and the ru­mour Robert De Niro’s con­sid­er­ing join­ing the fun in a sup­port­ing role only back that up. Fin­gers crossed they’re study­ing Alan Moore’s de­fin­i­tive ori­gin take, The Killing Joke.

How will this af­fect the Jared 4 Leto Joker movie?

SEB PA­TRICK: It was revealed a lit­tle while back that in DC Comics’ cur­rent con­ti­nu­ity there are ac­tu­ally three Jok­ers — al­though any ex­pla­na­tion of or elab­o­ra­tion on that fact is still yet to

emerge. So it’s not without prece­dent that we could end up with two com­pletely dif­fer­ent Jok­ers co-ex­ist­ing in the movie uni­verse as well. But it would also be very, very strange. The si­mul­ta­ne­ous de­vel­op­ment feels in­stead more like the hedg­ing of bets — with the Leto ver­sion as a back-up plan in case the Phillips/phoenix movie stalls. But then, giv­ing this ver­sion of the char­ac­ter a stand­alone movie al­ready seemed a crazy move in the wake of Sui­cide Squad, so the ex­is­tence of a com­pet­ing in­car­na­tion couldn’t ac­tu­ally make it that much cra­zier.

How will that af­fect Sui­cide 5 Squad 2?

seb Pa­trick: That’s an eas­ier ques­tion to an­swer, if we as­sume that Sui­cide Squad 2 will have lit­tle or noth­ing to do with the Joker. What­ever you thought of the first film, it had in­di­vid­ual el­e­ments that could suc­cess­fully make the leap to a se­quel, and so long as they can keep ei­ther or both of Mar­got Rob­bie and Will Smith on board, it should have a fight­ing chance. Whether Har­ley Quinn finds her­self oth­er­wise en­gaged in a Gotham City Sirens or Har­ley and Ivy movie is prob­a­bly a big­ger threat to the se­quel’s chances of hap­pen­ing — but ei­ther way, a Sui­cide Squad 2 without the Joker is en­tirely fea­si­ble and pos­si­bly even quite wel­come.

What is hap­pen­ing with 6 The Bat­man?

Dan Jolin: It’s in a strange place for sure. De­vel­op­ment Limbo, you could say. Matt Reeves is def­i­nitely at­tached as di­rec­tor, says it’s go­ing “re­ally well”, and has spo­ken about mak­ing it a stand­alone film, hav­ing re­worked the script since com­ing aboard in place of Ben Af­fleck him­self. How­ever, it’s now been sug­gested it will be con­nected to the Joker ori­gin movie; not so sur­pris­ing given the ru­mours that Reeves’ script con­cerns a younger Bat­man rather than the DCEU’S griz­zled Af­fleck ver­sion, sug­gest­ing some­thing closer to Nolan’s Bat­man Be­gins. So per­haps one will feed into the other, al­though there’s still no re­lease date or any con­fir­ma­tion of Af­fleck’s con­tin­ued in­volve­ment. In the mean­time, like the Bat­cave’s orig­i­nal res­i­dents, we’re left hang­ing.

So now there are two DC uni­verses? 7

Helen o’hara: At least. Cer­tainly, cur­rent re­ports sug­gest that Matt Reeves’ The Bat­man and the Joaquin Phoenixs­tar­ring Joker ori­gin film take place in a dif­fer­ent re­al­ity to the Jared Leto Joker, who’s in the main DCEU. TV’S Ar­row­verse takes place in an­other uni­verse again (and it’s dab­bled in mul­ti­ple re­al­i­ties!), and it re­mains to be seen how Shazam, et al, will fit in. Warner

Bros. film chair­man Toby Em­merich re­cently told EW that, “I think the good movies work bet­ter. The best busi­ness strat­egy in mo­tion pictures is qual­ity,” which sug­gests that he’s less wor­ried about con­ti­nu­ity than mak­ing each film work on its own mer­its. But imag­ine: all these worlds could one day fuel a mas­sive, on-screen ver­sion of the comics’ Cri­sis On In­fi­nite Earths, where all the par­al­lel DC re­al­i­ties crash to­gether in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion.

Will we see the Jus­tice 8 League again?

SEB PA­TRICK: Well, given all the has­sle in­volved in bring­ing them to­gether, it would be a shame if we didn’t, wouldn’t it? They even found them­selves a place to put their big round ta­ble and every­thing. The op­ti­mistic tone struck by the end of Jus­tice League, though, wasn’t born out by the gen­eral pub­lic’s re­ac­tion to it — and so it’s likely that, with the de­par­ture of Zack Sny­der and no-one fig­ure step­ping up as yet to drive things in his place, an­other Jus­tice League film could be a way off. But it would be hugely sur­pris­ing if we didn’t get one even­tu­ally, whether with the same line-up or with some new char­ac­ters in­tro­duced in-be­tween. Af­ter all, who else is Death­stroke go­ing to fight?

Where do Aqua­man, 9 The Flash and Shazam fit into all this?

SEB PA­TRICK: Aqua­man is prob­a­bly the film, out­side of

Won­der Woman 1984, best-placed to shake off the bad rep as­so­ci­ated with hav­ing de­buted in Jus­tice League. It’s got a strong di­rec­tor with vi­sion in James Wan, and a lead char­ac­ter who could be a lot of fun in the right hands. All bets are off with

Flash, which seems to have ditched the ill-ad­vised at­tempt to adapt the

Flash­point alternative uni­verse story and would be best served by just con­cen­trat­ing on har­ness­ing Ezra Miller’s dorky charm. As for Shazam!, it’s any­one’s guess how that will turn out — it might just be ut­terly crazily bril­liant, though, and we’re pin­ning hopes on it be­ing a Won­der Wo­manesque fil­lip for the DC fran­chise as a whole. Plus, of course, it should be lead­ing into Dwayne John­son’s Black Adam — and if any­one can boost a fran­chise, it’s The Rock.

Who else could join the DCEU? 10

HELEN O’HARA: With ap­prox­i­mately 20 films in de­vel­op­ment, it’s hard to be de­fin­i­tive on who’s still un­claimed. But there’s one core Jus­tice League hero yet to in­tro­duce: the green-skinned, glo­ri­ously com­pas­sion­ate and wildly over­pow­ered J’onn J’onzz, aka the afore­men­tioned Mar­tian Man­hunter. The DCEU could con­tinue its strong streak on rep­re­sen­ta­tion in comic-book movies by putting Apollo and the Mid­nighter on­screen (ba­si­cally Bat­man and Su­per­man, but lovers) — or go one bet­ter and bring in Wild­storm’s whole weird Stormwatch/the Au­thor­ity series of grown-up su­per-sto­ries. A fo­cus on the ‘Bat fam­ily’ — the ex­tended crew of some­time-robins and Bat­girls — worked bril­liantly in Bat­man: The An­i­mated Series and would al­low for lots of in­ter­est­ing, soapy sto­ry­lines like Un­der The Red Hood down the line. It’s still all to play for!

Top: Jus­tice League: Ben Af­fleck’s Bat­man, Gal Gadot’s Won­der Woman, Ray Fisher’s Cy­borg, Ezra Miller’s Flash and Ja­son Mo­moa’s Aqua­man join forces. Above: Todd Phillips, di­rec­tor of the as-yet-un­ti­tled Joker ori­gin movie. Right: Aqua­man di­rec­tor...

Won­der Woman 1984 teaser tweet.

Clock­wise from left: Comic book hero Shazam; Ja­son Mo­moa gets a soak­ing as Aqua­man; The Bat­man di­rec­tor Matt Reeves; Di­rec­tor Patty Jenk­ins’

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