Predicting The Nine Untitled DC Comics Movies

Today's official announcement that Warner Bros. will release ten DC Comics movies between now [...]

Today's official announcement that Warner Bros. will release ten DC Comics movies between now and 2020 has left many fans a little flabbergasted, wondering what the heck their slate could look like, and how they think they will pull off going from one movie every three years or so to twice-annually.

Leaving aside the obvious answer that this is what the DC Entertainment brand was created for, leaving behind the name "Comics" to focus on a broader scope of entertainment products, there's the fact that this is actually a bit scaled back from the thrice-annually numbers that veteran entertainment journalist Nikki Finke reported back in June.

Here are Warner Bros.'s newly-announced dates:

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice – 03/25/16
Untitled DC Film – 08/05/16
Untitled DC Film – 06/23/17
Untitled DC Film – 11/17/17
Untitled DC Film – 03/23/18
Untitled DC Film – 07/27/18
Untitled DC Film – 04/05/19
Untitled DC Film – 06/14/19
Untitled DC Film – 04/03/20
Untitled DC Film – 06/19/20

Here's what Finke had to say back in June:

July 2016 – Shazam
Xmas 2016 – Sandman
May 2017 – Justice League
July 2017 – Wonder Woman
Xmas 2017 – Flash and Green Lantern team-up
May 2018 – Man Of Steel 2

There had been talk of a Metal Men and Suicide Squad movie for sometime in 2016 but that project fell off the schedule.

Now, what we've heard is that while the titles are correct, the dates themselves are off-base. We've also heard that Suicide Squad isn't quite as dead as advertised. Still, let's for the sake of argument (because I'm not particularly interested in guessing what movie might go on what date) assume that she's got the order more or less right. That would give us...

August 5, 2016 - Shazam

June 23, 2017 - Sandman

November 17, 2017 - Justice League

...Let's pause right there for a second.

First of all, it more or less tracks with what we already know. It seems as though Shazam has The Rock nailed down, meaning that there's a major star all ready and raring to go. Sandman, we've heard, is already in pre-production with a script that's being worked on, producers and potentially a star in place. Those two could and probably should be the first out of the gate.

And take a look at the Justice League date.

One of the most persistent rumors about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is that we'll get at least a tease of Doomsday, the monster that killed Superman in the comics and precipitated one of the biggest and best-selling "event series" of all time.

The issue in which Superman died hit the stands, depending on who you talk to, on November 17 or 18, 1992, meaning that they would be a hair's breadth from releasing a Justice League movie -- possibly with Doomsday in it -- on the 25th anniversary of that date.

Unlikely? Yes. But certainly worth a mention and some thought.

March 23, 2018 - Wonder Woman

Here, if anything, is where the wheels fall off a bit. When everything was being squeezed into a fantastical two-year window on the Finke schedule, it was at least somewhat believable that DC would wait until Wonder Woman had appeared in two films before giving her a picture of her own. As things get pushed out to 2018? It becomes harder to believe that they won't want to use the most iconic female superhero not just in their library but in the world before then. Waiting until 2018 will mean that it had been five years after the emergence of Superman and the new DC Cinematic Universe before she even gets a movie with her name in the title.

Look for this one to take the slot currently occupied by either ShazamSandman or Justice League on this list. Justice League, which is directed by Zack "I love to schedule my movies in March" Snyder, may in fact be the best bet. And, by default, it gives DC an extra "build-up" film. Suddenly you start to skirt the criticism that you're jumping to the JLA too fast, becuase rather than having it be the third film (as has been widely reported and speculated), it would become the fifth (after Man of SteelBatman V SupermanShazam and Wonder Woman) in the continuity (Sandman will almost certainly not take place in the same universe as the other movies).

For reference, Marvel had five movies' build-up for The Avengers.

July 27, 2018 - Flash/Green Lantern

April 5, 2019 - Man of Steel 2

These are both kind of oddball cases.

For The Flash, it would have seemed like a good idea to get out relatively early in the run of the TV series, lest Grant Gustin and company permanently place a stamp on the character. If the show is a runaway (no pun intended) success, it will be in its fifth season by this point and it will be really weird not using Gustin or any of the show's continuity for the movies.

If it's cancelled by then, it will similarly color audience perception of the character.

Similarly, you've got Man of Steel 2 theoretically a bare minimum of five years out from Man of Steel and while Superman will have appeared in a couple of movies in between, it's probably best nobody actually market the film as Man of Steel 2 lest people wonder what the hell a "Man of Steel" is, half a decade on. A good excuse, I guess, to put Superman's name in the title.

Even assuming that these are the movies that come out, in this order, that still means there are three additional movies Finke's original list didn't account for.

At present, her website is doubling down on her list, adding that "There had been talk of a Metal Men and Suicide Squad movie but that project fell off the schedule I received back then." It is, now as then, unclear whether she means a Metal Men and the Suicide Squad movie or two movies, one featuring each group. The impression, particularly since she phrased it the same way both times, is that she's talking about just the one movie.

She's not the first -- more like the fourth -- source we've heard the words "Suicide Squad" come out of, including a couple recently who have indicated that Finke is off-target about the project being dead. For the sake of argument, we'll drop that one in here...

June 14, 2019 - Suicide Squad (& the Metal Men?)

April 3, 2020 - Batman

It's virtually impossible to imagine that Ben Affleck's Batman won't get a solo film before Man of Steel 2 is in theaters, so this is certainly subject to change -- and again with rare exception we don't pretend to have any real clue as to just when any given film might  hit and are instead focused on just trying to suss out which properties might get a shot. That said, if we're right and Suicide Squad is actually being actively developed right now, would it make sense for a movie like that to hold off so long? Certainly it could use the boost of something like Justice League.

Then again, if they wait a while, maybe the team will have run its course on Arrow and you can avoid brand confusion without the feature side stepping on anyone's toes at WBTV.

June 19, 2020: Justice League 2

I'm just going to take a shot in the dark here and say that you don't plan for a Justice League movie without a second and probably third Justice League movie tentatively scheduled in your head. Assuming the first one is the massive success you want, you'll want more of them -- and if it isn't, then all of this is probably academic anyway because the failure of a movie on that scale would probably mean a shift back toward slightly less expensive DC movies in the hopes of recouping expenses, or the revocation of some of these dates to be allocated to franchises that would perform.

That is, if anything, the inherent weakness of the Finke list and its ambition; kickstarting all fo these franchises that now need to be maintained, with sequels developed and actors kept happy and all that, can create an environment where you take longer than you want to get a woman onscreen, to get a minority onscreen, to get a team onscreen, to get a Superman or a Batman film out there. Would DC actually want to spearhead five or six franchises all at once, only to see Batman and Superman suffer (relatively speaking) to do so? It's hard to say.