The news that Warner Bros. is launching a secondary branch of DC standalone films has gotten the industry talking. The studio's DC Extended Universe line of interconnected films is about to hit its biggest milestone yet with the release of Justice League this fall, so what does that mean exactly?
With many new films planned afterward -- Wonder Woman 2, Suicide Squad 2, Aquaman, Flashpoint -- the idea that there will be both a DCEU Joker/Harley Quinn movie and a Joker standalone origin movie (with two different actors playing Joker) seems like a risky bet.
However, there does appear to be a logic to this Joker madness...
Mainstream vs. Fan-Service
Variety reports that the new brand of DC standalones is part of a plan to capitalize on the WB's "reputation as an auteur-driven studio," which has produced hits like The Dark Knight Trilogy. According to the trade, meetings with directors like Aquaman's James Wan, potential Flashpoint director Robert Zemeckis, or Batgirl director Joss Whedon showed Warner Bros. that there was much more room, creatively, to expand beyond the confines of the DCEU.
The question now is: is this over-saturation on the part of DC/WB? Or a smart move to expand the DC Films brand reach?
At the end of the day, history has repeatedly shown that it's the hardcore fans who care the most about shared continuity; mainstream audiences just want great films that show something more than the standard superhero experience.
And the box office has been proving it:
One look around the superhero movie landscape right now, and it's clear that even other studios invested in building these superhero cinematic universes (Marvel, Fox), are learning that unique creative vision is paramount to making big dents in the box office.
Fox's Deadpool and Logan each took very different approaches to exploring the X-Men movie universe, in R-rated settings no less. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy and upcoming films like Thor: Ragnarok are going for offbeat styles that will set them apart and create an air of fun -- even Sony and Marvel's Spider-Man: Homecoming used comedic flair to make sure Homecoming was a distinct departure from its predecessors. In short: changing things up has become key.
And Warner Bros. has much more experience playing a game of spreading bets across the table. In fact, the studio's DC TV and animation divisions have both adopted a two-pronged approach, giving fans both interconnected universes of films and television shows, as well as standalone projects that can explore different creative approaches. Both the TV and animation divisions are consistently looked at successful brands under the DC banner, so logic would dictate that the same approach will work for the films.
If anything, the struggle for DC/WB has been (and still is) building the shared universe of films. With all the big production shakeups of Justice League, and The Batman, there probably should be more worry about projects like Aquaman or Flashpoint than the Joker origin film.
How do you feel? Are you excited for both the DCEU and DC Standalone Films? Or do you think it should be one or the other? Let us know @ComicbookNow!