Call it DC Rebirth or DC: Genesis. Maybe call it Identity Crisis or Flashpoint. These titles from past DC Comics event series aptly describe the plight of Warner Bros.’ DC movies, which are on the cusp of a new era, but not before a potentially messy transition period.
A clean slate is common when a new executive team is brought in to run a studio or division, but there’s probably little precedent for the amount of Clorox James Gunn and Peter Safran could spray as they prepare to launch DC Studios and superhero movies for the next half decade and beyond.
The duo flew back to Los Angeles in recent days from the snowy town of Aspen, Colorado, where they huddled in deep planning, and now like holy figures descending from the mountaintop, a set of commandments or a DC Bible in hand to have. Or at least a working blueprint.
Gunn and Safran are expected to meet with Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav next week. Discovery radically reshaping the media company that hired the duo in October to head up a newly launched film and TV division. The pair will reveal to Zaslav a plan that is expected to lay out their vision. While much of their plan, which insiders say is still in progress and has yet to be approved, is held deep within the Batcave, details of several possible paths are trickling forward. And at least one path not followed has also been revealed.
Tell multiple sources The Hollywood Reporter that of Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman 3 does not advance and is considered dead in its current incarnation.
Sources say Jenkins recently submitted her treatment, co-written with Geoff Johns, and that Gunn and Safran, as well as Warner Bros. Pictures co-chairs and co-CEOs Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy, broke the news to the filmmaker, telling her that the project – as it stood – didn’t fit the new (but still unfolding) plans. Jenkins directed and co-wrote the previous two films, starring Gal Gadot and released in 2017 and 2020. The next steps have not yet been decided.
And while cost isn’t an issue — insiders say DC Studios won’t have overburdening financial constraints — the studio could end up saving tens of millions of dollars by not making the third installment. Gadot, according to sources, was heading for a $20 million payday for Wonder Woman 3 while Jenkins would have received $12 million. These figures do not include possible backend bonuses.
Warners had no comment.
It is unclear how a future Wonderwoman movie, and Gadot’s portrayal of the hero, would fit into the new DC plan. In some staggering timing, Gadot tweeted out of the blue thank you to fans on Tuesday, saying she was grateful to be playing the heroine and role model, adding, “I can’t wait to share her next chapter with you.” It was unclear if the actress knew the project was being tagged.
The rest of the DC slate keeps moving, or at least kept deep in a pocket of Gunn’s own utility belt but there are several rumors and possible scenarios to consider for next week’s meeting.
The first, building on Jenkins’ formwork Wonder Woman 3is the closing curtain of the Snyderverse, and the heroes cast for him by filmmaker Zack Snyder Justice League. This one sees the closing of Man of steel 2with a returning Henry Cavill, and no more Aquariusdirected by Jason Momoa.
These characters are to cameo in Flash, the much-anticipated time travel adventure film coming out on June 16. Cavill shot his part of the cameo back in September. But sources say there is ongoing discussion at the studio about whether or not to keep the cameo, and whether its inclusion promises anything the studio has no intention of delivering.
A Warners insider warns that no plans have been finalized and all Flash remains an unlocked image.
The Cavill situation is more than a little thorny as the actor made a cameo appearance Black Adam, the DC-focused movie released in October. The Monday after the movie opened, Cavill posted a video to Instagram announcing, “I wanted to make it official — I’m back as Superman.”
And at that moment he was not wrong. Warner Bros. was indeed developing a sequel for 2013 Man of Steel and active meeting with writers. Andy Muschietti, who directed Flash, even expressed interest in being behind the camera for something that would have brought a tone similar to the hopeful and heroic colors of the 1978 film directed by Richard Donner, considered a benchmark in comic book movies. In fact, the current Warner Bros Pictures leadership team – Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy – wanted another reboot of the Snyderverse heroes, possibly even another Justice League movie starring those actors.
But that was before Gunn and Safran began to formulate their new (and still in flux) plan.
Also unlikely is a sequel to Black Adam. Despite the hype surrounding the film about launching a new corner of DC, much of which is led by star Dwayne Johnson, the film has only grossed $385 million worldwide and studio insiders say the film, which has grossed more than $ 190 million to produce (two sources put the actual cost at $230 million, not counting marketing), will be lucky enough to break even, even factoring in additional revenue. Even if the film makes a minimal profit, the inherently rising cost of a follow-up diminishes the prospect of a sequel.
Johnson was hoping to get his own piece of the DC pie, but multiple sources say his playing of a returning Cavill and his own involvement with DC may not endear him to the new management. Johnson and Cavill are both led by Dany Garcia, who is also Johnson’s producing partner. The experience of Adam profit or not is a conflagration now being fought out in public, with Johnson tweeting the movie more than $50 million after a Variety story said the film would lose more than $50 million in theaters.
Momoa, meanwhile, could become a pivotal figure in the new plans, according to various sources. In one scenario, the actor would end his days as underwater hero Arthur Curry Lost city, scheduled for December 25, 2023, which would be the last film released by the previous regime. But it wouldn’t mark the end of the actor’s involvement with DC, with sources saying the actor would helm one more movie or franchise. The character of Lobo, a foul-mouthed cigar-munching intergalactic bounty hunter, has been mentioned in connection with Momoa.
Whether Momoa is playing everyone’s favorite bastich or not, Lobo popping up as an emerging character early on in the conversation could hint at the kind of characters the Gunn-Safran team might be targeting. The character is an outsider, an anti-hero, tying in with Gunn’s specialty of taking the unusual and quirky and turning it into crowd-pleasing fare.
Part of the plan could involve a real fresh start and not being bothered by previous regimes as they started resetting how DC movies and shows are made. However, that doesn’t take into account the possible success of movies like Shazam! Anger of the gods (March 17, 2023), on which Safran is a producer, and Blue Beetle (August 18, 2023). Would that plan involve moving forward without the actors who inhabit those characters and recasting them, even if those movies turn out to be blockbusters?
Observers are convinced the plan calls for an interconnected story universe and there are rumblings about establishing a creative brain trust. Brain confidence may already be rolling somewhat, as sources say Safran had been meeting with writers at his Los Angeles home in recent weeks in an effort to hone the presentation and gather feedback and ideas for the plan.
One part that probably won’t touch the Gunn-Safran agenda, at least for now, is the Matt Reeves Batman universe where Robert Pattinson dons the Caped Crusader hood. Reeves writes the sequel The batterwhich opened on March 4. The filmmaker is also overseeing the launch of two Batman series spawned from his film, including The penguin.