It's no secret right now that the DC Films Universe is dangerously close to being considered a lost cause. Justice League was a branding fail (despite being a pivotal earner for Time Warner), and aside from the red-hot success of the Wonder Woman franchise and its star Gal Gadot, there's nothing currently on DC Films' overstuffed slate of planned projects that has any kind of real buzz right now.
But buzz is not enough. DC has been able to generate hype for each one of its highly anticipated film releases up until now, only to ultimately disappoint so many fans, so many times over. No, what DC Films needs now is simple: redemption. Films like Wonder Woman 2, Shazam, or Batgirl could all be big successes, but they're not necessarily the films that will turn around th bad branding and general stigma that's hung over DC movies since the Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy.
Here are the seven DC films that could turn things around significantly.
Jason Momoa's Aquaman wasn't universally loved in Justice League, but James Wan's solo Aquaman movie has the potential to turn around the DCEU. Aquaman has the potential to be a game-changing superhero movie -- the first that's primarily set underwater, and contains some of Wan's signature horror prowess to boot. Done even halfway right, it will be unlike anything Marvel and Fox have put out, and will be a big shining beacon of a new and improved DCEU.
Batman has been the cornerstone of the DC Movies brand since the late '80s, but right now the character and his solo franchise are in flux. Ben Affleck is rumored to be dropping out, and Matt Reeves' The Batman is not even confirmed to be part of the DCEU shared continuity. Whatever the plan is, Matt Reeves and DC Films need to reveal it sooner before later. Nobody is going to believe in the strength and viability of this DC Films franchise until its strongest pillar is back in place.
Batman isn't the only flagship character for DC. While Henry Cavill's Superman is now a worldwide icon, Superman's presence in the DCEU has been far from universally pleasing. Justice League was, in many ways, supposed to be a Superman redemption story; however, that redemptive arc got lost in the general mess that was Justice League. The world is still waiting for that Superman who is the symbol of truth, justice and hope to make his return. If Man of Steel 2 delivers that, it would quickly start to repair the rift with DC fans where it first opened.
Suicide Squad complicated what should've been an easy situation by throwing in supernatural / magical elements into a movie where they had no place. We've already heard a lot mea culpas from the cast and director, along with the promise that Suicide Squad 2 is going to be a more grounded hard-boiled crime story. If the sequel can paint DC villains in a much brighter limelight, that would be redeeming for sure; if it can give Jared Leto's Joker his proper due, that would be a vitally important mulligan for the franchise as well.
This movie is already fans' big dark horse hope for DCEU redemption, and it just might be able to deliver that. The famous "Flashpoint" storyline from DC Comics follows the massive and destructive butterfly effect that rips through the DC Universe after Barry Allen / The Flash goes back in time to change his own history. The new timeline he creates offers a vastly different version of the DC Universe and its heroes, and even when Barry eventually rights his wrong, the regular timeline gets refurbished with some permanent changes. So, even if Flashpoint is a self-contained DCEU event film, it could ostensibly provide an entire soft-reboot of the DCEU.
Right now, there are two clear kings of movies: superhero blockbusters and mainstream horror films, and WB has a sizable stake in both! It's become clear that whomever bridges the superhero/horror genres together stands to make a lot of money at the box office, and DC definitely has a way to do that with Justice League Dark. The film has name-brand recognition, as well as a fan-favorite lead character (Constantine) whose relevancy doesn't seem to fade. Fox delayed its New Mutants movie nearly a year in order to get the superhero-horror formula perfected; if DC can get Justice League Dark out of development limbo and in theaters, it could be a frontrunner on this new frontier.
DC Films announced last year that it was opening a new line of standalone feature films in addition to its DCEU shared universe -- one that will begin with The Joker origin movie from Todd Philips. However, an offbeat Joker movie is good testing ground, creatively, but if DC standalones want to make blockbuster-sized impact, then why not do it with an event film based on one of the biggest DC Comics storylines, ever?
"Kingdom Come" imagines a near-future in which the metahuman population has spiraled out of control, leaving a new generation of hard-edged and militant vigilante "heroes" that don't believe in the outdated code of the Justice League. When a prophecy of metahuman armaggeddon surfaces, Superman returns from seclusion to bring back the Justice League and re-establish proper order in the world. Only problem is that the youngsters don't want to listen to the Man of Steel, and a human faction led by Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor wants the metahuman authority toppled for good.
Fans have long wanted a Kingdom Come movie, in part because it offers a unique opportunity for experienced actors and icons to played the aged versions of these DC Superheroes. If DC Films wants to widen its brand and put out a high-art piece of superhero action/drama cinema, Kingdom Come is the way to go!
Which movies and/or characters do you think the DC Films brand needs right now?
Justice League will be available on Digital HD on February 13th and Blu-ray on March 13th. The film will be followed in the DC Extended Universe by Aquaman on December 21st, Shazam on April 5, 2019, Wonder Woman 2 on November 1, 2019, Cyborg in 2020, and Green Lantern Corpsin 2020.