The trinity of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman are the future of the DC brand at Warner Bros. Discovery. During the merged company's Q2 earnings call Thursday, CEO David Zaslav said the DC Films universe is on "the top of the list" of a wider strategic shift to bolster the DC brand and its superhero properties as part of a "10-year plan focusing just on DC." After shelving straight-to-streaming DC Comics adaptations Batgirl and Wonder Twins, which would have gone to HBO Max but will now not release at all, Zaslav said DC "is something that we think we could make better, and we're focused on it now."
"When you look at Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, these are brands that are known everywhere in the world," Zaslav said during the call. "And the ability to drive those all over the world with great stories is a big opportunity for us."
The company released a graphic of its "global powerhouse" brands, specifically highlighting DC's Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman franchises, alongside Warner's Game of Thrones and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Discovery's Shark Week and 90 Day Fiancé franchises.
Zaslav name-checked upcoming DC films Black Adam, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, and The Flash, telling investors, "We're very excited about them." Director James Wan's sequel to 2018's Aquaman, which remains the highest-grossing DC movie, is scheduled to open in theaters in March.
When referring to DC, Zaslav said, "We have done a reset. We've restructured the business." With Disney's former chief creative officer Alan Horn having returned to Warners as a consultant, Zaslav compared the structure to Marvel Studios, which Horn and then-Disney CEO Bob Iger "put together very effectively" with Kevin Feige as Chief Content Officer of the entire Marvel umbrella.
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"We think that we could build a long-term much stronger, sustainable growth business out of DC. And as part of that, we're going to focus on quality," Zaslav said just days after the company axed the nearly-completed Batgirl movie. "We're not going to release any film before it's ready. We're not going to release a film to make a [financial] quarter, we're not going to release a film [if it's not working]. The focus is going to be, how do we make each of these films in general as good as possible?"
The shift in strategy is part of WBD's ambition to "bring Warner back" and "produce great, high-quality films," particularly "quality" films mining the DC stable of characters that includes Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Zaslav's focus on the big three comes as Henry Cavill's Superman remains in limbo, his DC future uncertain after starring in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and both versions of Justice League.
While the former regime under the AT&T-owned Warner Bros. looked to install Michael Keaton's Batman as the statesman of a DC Extended Universe partially reset after the time-travel events of The Flash, replacing Ben Affleck's Dark Knight, Aquaman actor Jason Momoa announced just last week that Batfleck is back in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Both Affleck and Keaton will appear opposite Ezra Miller in The Flash, which would have effectively merged the DCEU with the "Burtonverse" home to Keaton's veteran caped crusader.
Along with filmmaker Matt Reeves' The Batman 2, which stars Robert Pattinson as a younger Dark Knight and is set outside of the DCEU, a third Wonder Woman movie teaming Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins is in the works. Wonder Woman 3 has not been dated, but the sequel is expected to move forward under the new leadership.
Dated DC Films include Black Adam (October 21), Shazam! Fury of the Gods (December 21), Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (March 17, 2023), The Flash (June 23, 2023), and Blue Beetle (August 18, 2023), all set within the DCEU; director Todd Phillips' Joker: Folie à Deux, starring Oscar winners Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga in the sequel set in a standalone continuity, will release in theaters on October 4, 2024.