The DC universe is changing. The success of AQUAMAN, SHAZAM! and WONDER WOMAN paved a new road for the comic book franchise housed at Warner Bros. Pictures. Accordingly, the studio has a bunch of great movies on the horizon, but they might not all form into the same sort of cohesive, interconnected universe we’ve seen from Marvel Studios.
In many ways, however, that means the DC movies have the potential to be a lot more surprising, and that’s great. The company has projects like BIRDS OF PREY and NEW GODS in development, in addition to two big sequels and two reinventions of core characters.
Let’s take a look at the exciting slate of DC adaptations Warner Bros. has in the pipeline through the end of 2021.
WB and DC will end 2019 with a bang. Joaquin Phoenix stars in JOKER, as Batman’s worst enemy. This, however, is a very different origin story for the character. Unlike SHAZAM! and AQUAMAN, JOKER is a standalone story set apart from DC’s overarching franchise. It is set in the early ’80s in an alternate version of Gotham City. Phoenix’s character is a woe-begotten wannabe stand-up comedian whose life takes a turn into madness after he experiences one setback too many. JOKER features some key characters from the Batman universe, such as Thomas Wayne and a young Bruce Wayne, but don’t expect the setup of an all-new Batman story — this is entirely about the Clown Prince of Crime. (October 4, 2019)
Birds of Prey
Cathy Yan directs this new Harley Quinn tale, with Margot Robbie returning to star as the eccentric antiheroine. This won’t be an alternate-universe tale to match JOKER, but the film’s full title — BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN) — should tell you that this probably won’t be a typical superhero movie. The cast also features Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary and Rosie Perez as GCPD detective Renee Montoya. Those characters are all working to save Cassandra Cain (played by newcomer Ella Jay Basco), who is menaced by classic Batman villain Black Mask, played by Ewan McGregor. (February 7, 2020)
Wonder Woman 1984
Star Gal Gadot picks up the golden lasso for director Patty Jenkins once more, but a few things are different this time! We’ve flown way beyond the war years and into the middle of the 1980s, for one. And Chris Pine’s character, Steve Trevor, is back, though we don’t know how — he apparently died toward the end of 2017’s WONDER WOMAN. Kristen Wiig turns up in this sequel as British archaeologist Barbara Ann Minerva, who is possessed by a goddess and becomes Cheetah. Sounds like the Amazon princess Diana will have her hands full. (June 5, 2020)
It would take one of the greatest detectives in the world to dig up the secrets of the planned Batman movie from writer/director Matt Reeves (WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES), but we do know a few things. The 2021 release may well star Robert Pattinson (above, in HIGH LIFE) as Bruce Wayne in a story that will reportedly highlight some of the more down-to-earth aspects of the Caped Crusader. This one has been quietly in development for a long time, with Warner Bros. giving Reeves leeway to really nail the script, in the hopes that his new Batman will be one the studio can lean on for many years to come. (June 25, 2021)
The Suicide Squad
Following his ouster from Marvel, and before he was rehired to make GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3, James Gunn was signed to make the SUICIDE SQUAD sequel. And while he has reconciled with Disney, the writer/director is staying true to his deal with DC. We don’t know a lot about his plans for this sequel, but there will be some cast changes. Will Smith will not return as Deadshot, but Idris Elba (above, in THE DARK TOWER) will step in to play a new character, while Jai Courtney and Viola Davis will return as Captain Boomerang and Amanda Waller, respectively. And will Margot Robbie be back? We think so, but at this point her role is unconfirmed, especially since she’s being emancipated in her own movie. (August 6, 2021)
There are more DC movies than those coming, and Warner Bros. will probably make a few of them official at Comic-Con 2019 this July. Expect to get more info on AQUAMAN 2, which is currently set for release on December 16, 2022, and maybe also on spinoff THE TRENCH, which could be a horror-tinged expansion of the DCEU, based on one of the most popular sequences from AQUAMAN (above).
There are also plans for a NEW GODS film, directed by Ava DuVernay, which would adapt the wild Jack Kirby comics that created a collection of weird characters that battle the villain Darkseid, who has been teased in previous DC movies. And there’s still a FLASH film in development, though the most recent news on that front is that Ezra Miller will shoot FANTASTIC BEASTS 3 in late 2019, and THE FLASH won’t begin running until after that movie is done. So, it could be a while before we see the movie, which currently has SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING writers and GAME NIGHT directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein set to direct.