First, I just wanted to start off by saying…THIS:
Holy crap, man! That’s a lot of movies. There are more movies on that list than there are James Bond and Tyler Perry movies combined! While some of those movies may only be speculation at this point (Justice League Dark I’m pointing at you), most of them are bona fide official. Will they all happen? Probably not. Will comic book movies oversaturate the market in the next five plus years? Probably. Will this be a good thing or a bad thing? I suppose that only time will tell. Speaking of time, let’s hop in our DeLorean and travel back a few months ago.
On October 15th Warner Bros announced a slate of about a dozen upcoming movies that they have in the works that mostly revolve around the Justice League and their supporting characters. Among the list of confirmed movies are two Justice League movies, Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Shazam as well as a movie based off of the supervillain supergroup the Suicide Squad. The rumored movies, which don’t have release dates or much information on them at all are said to be Sandman (based off of the Vertigo series), Justice League Dark AKA Justice League Supernatural and standalone Batman and Superman movies.
Less than two weeks later Marvel Comics, not wanting to feel left out of announcing new movies, decided to host a special event announcing most, if not all of their upcoming Phase 3 movies. Marvel fans got most of the movies that they have been clamoring for with the announcement of Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Captain America: Civil War, Inhumans, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and a two-part Avengers movie titled “Infinity War”.
With all of these movie announcements, this list takes us all the way into 2019…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are also a slew of Spider-Man and X-Men movies on the way including X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, Venom and Deadpool standalone movies, a Sinister Six film, a couple of Fantastic Four movies and dozens upon dozens of rumored movies that may or may not see the light of day. What does this mean to the movie critics, the average movie goers or the hardcore comic book fans? It most likely means that most critics are going to be pissed because they have to watch a bunch of movies that they don’t consider to be “real” movies and it also means that the comic book film genre has become just that…a movie genre of its own. Moviegoers and comic book fans will definitely have a much more enjoyable time.
I’m going to lay it out there and say that I am a much bigger Marvel Comics fan by far. I collect about 20 Marvel titles a month compared to DC’s 2, but I’m going to set my favoritisms aside and be objective about the upcoming films from both companies. I’m going to discuss my thoughts on the movies that have been announced, the rumored movies, why each company’s plan will work and why they may fail, and what all of these new movies can mean to Hollywood.
Let’s start with DC Comics, who broke the ice and announced their movies first.
DC has a lot of extremely popular and world-renowned characters such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, but they also have a lot of unique, interesting and popular underground characters that can expand the shared movie universe in a variety of ways. Characters like Swamp Thing, Deadman, Constantine, Sandman and Dr. Fate come from the supernatural side of things and could come into play with the Justice League Dark movie if it gets the green light. A character like Cyborg can open the doors to some tweeners with a Teen Titans movie while a movie like the Suicide Squad with its revolving door of team members could be a great way introduce movie versions of Deathstroke the Terminator, Harley Quinn, the Clock King (damn straight!) or Black Manta. There could even be the possibility of some lesser known franchises being brought into the limelight such as Sgt. Rock or Blue Beetle.
What it looks like for the initial plan that DC Comics has in mind is to start things off by bringing out the big guns. With the big three (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) all set to make appearances in the same movie, it was obvious that a Justice League movie was on the way. Batman/Superman: Dawn of Justice comes first followed by the Suicide Squad, which seems like it will set up the villains for the remaining movies. Throwing it out there, this may be an entirely different Suicide Squad team from anything in the comics past or present. The lineup could possibly consist of Joker, Harley Quinn, Sinestro, Black Adam, Black Manta, Captain Cold or Professor Zoom, Lex Luthor and Cheetah. If DC plans to go this route and set up the JL’s rogues gallery in a movie then it should be a Legion of Doom movie. If this is something else, then I really don’t know where they could be going with a Suicide Squad film.
UPDATE: It’s now been confirmed that the Suicide Squad lineup will consist of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, the Joker, Rick Flag, Boomerang and Enchantress with some big name actors like Will Smith, Jared Leto, Tom Hardy and Margot Robbie landing the roles. These villains can definitely set the stage for some of the following movies, most obviously a new Batman franchise as well as Boomerang/Flash and the Justice League Dark movie with the inclusion of Enchantress.
I love the idea of an all villain movie that would show the audience just how badass and powerful these particular villains would be before they throw down with the heroes. It’s different than anything that Marvel has done so far and it would show everyone that DC is doing their own thing and is capable of thinking outside of the box. Like I mentioned before, if something like the Suicide Squad works, it could open the door to a plethora of lesser known material, much like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy did. Maybe that’s what Justice League Dark and Sandman need to get the go ahead.
While there isn’t anything that DC announced that strays away from their plan to focus on the Justice League, I think that is a good thing. To get the footing of their shared cinematic universe, popular and familiar names are the way to go. Everyone knows who Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are and I’m not just talking about in the United States. Those names are brands that are known globally. People will flock to see any Batman or Superman movie no matter what it’s about. Introducing characters that are still familiar but of the lesser caliber such as the Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman in a Justice League movie is smart and a logical business move on DC’s part. Green Lantern already flopped in his own solo movie even though most of that had to do with the writers and directors not giving any shits about the characters backstory and comics mythos. The Flash and Green Arrow are getting some time in the limelight with their TV shows and that only helps to build up their popularity and recognition for future movie projects. If there is little to no interest in particular characters after the Justice League movie is released, it would be much easier to scrap a solo film than it would be to set storylines up that go nowhere all the while ruining the plans of a big team up movie. As the recent Flash/Green Arrow TV team up proved, the Justice League is still a hot commodity and can (possibly) bring in Avengers bucks.
The hopes and dreams of a shared DC movie universe hinges entirely on Batman/Superman and the Suicide Squad movies. Those two films will set up the core of heroes and villains that will carry the DC cinematic universe for the next decade. If not done well from the start, whether it’s because of bad casting, poor scripts, sloppy character development or a slew of other things, the DC movies could sink before even getting a chance to sail. But if the movies do justice to and stay true to the characters and the people behind the scenes can keep things focused and organized, then Marvel may just have a run for their money. Here’s hoping that the Martian Manhunter can finally make his film debut and all will be right with the universe.