DC Entertainment: 2017 in Review – Part 1 [Film]

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2017 was yet another big year for DC Entertainment. Two movies hit theaters and expanded DC Films’ shared universe. The company’s television shows continued to thrive. And we got some cool stuff from the animation and video game worlds.

In this first part of our annual reflection, we look back at all the major news, rumors, and more from the world of DC Films.

For our recap of DC Entertainment’s five biggest moments at San Diego Comic-Con, click HERE.

DC Films’ first release of 2017 is by far its biggest success. Following a marketing campaign that included trailers, magazine covers and more, Wonder Woman came in and took over the summer. The movie grossed $103 million in its opening weekend, and at $413 million, it is now the highest grossing DC Film in North America, as well as the fifth biggest in superhero history. It also wound up surpassing $800 million worldwide. Not only did the movie make money, but it earned rave reviews from critics and fans.

Unsurprisingly, Wonder Woman‘s success led to Warner Bros. quickly putting a sequel into development. Originally slated for December 13th, the sequel will now release on November 1st, 2019. Director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot will return. Jenkins is also writing the script with Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham. Plot details are under wraps, but Jenkins teased the introduction of new characters – including a new love interest? Also, the film will reportedly take place in the 1980s, in the midst of the Cold War.

Wonder Woman‘s success showed what the DC Extended Universe is capable of with near-unanimous praise from critics and audiences, breathing new life into the mega-franchise. Unfortunately, the next film wasn’t as successful…

This year marked the long-awaited release of Justice League, which finally unites DC’s biggest heroes on the big screen. Warner Bros. spent the year marketing this movie, putting out trailers, toys, and even a VR experience. The film finally hit theaters last month. While Wonder Woman was DC’s biggest success, Justice League was its biggest failure. While its reviews were a little better than last year’s efforts, its box office has been a huge letdown. Its $94 million opening is the lowest in DCEU history. The movie has only made a little over $200 million domestically and $600 million worldwide. For a movie with a nearly $300 million budget, that’s just bad. This puts a dampener on plans for a sequel, which likely would have featured the Legion of Doom, as hinted at in the post-credits scene.

Fans go back-and-forth on Justice League‘s quality. But one of the film’s biggest talking points over the summer was the extensive reshoots. After Zack Snyder dropped out to deal with a family tragedy, Joss Whedon took over to write and direct new scenes. Whedon got a screenplay credit, and he brought composer Danny Elfman on board. The most noticeable part of the reshoots in the movie was Superman’s face, which was digitally altered in some scenes to remove Henry Cavill’s mustache.

Warner Bros. is responding to this failure by overhauling its DC Films banner, which was just formed over a year ago. Jon Berg is leaving, Geoff Johns’s role is decreasing, and Zack Snyder will likely never direct another DC movie. WB is also said to be pursuing more standalone, filmmaker-driven movies that don’t rely on building a shared universe.

Fortunately, WB is all in with the next DC film, Aquaman, which is the company’s only movie for 2018. The movie – which is now hitting theaters on December 21st of next year – filled out the rest of its cast, which includes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman, Temuera Morrison, and Dolph Lundgren. The film began production this May and wrapped in October, with a reported production budget of $160 million.

Aquaman was featured at WB’s San Diego Comic-Con panel this year, but since then, we haven’t heard too much. We recently got a new still and plot details, while director James Wan discussed the movie’s villain(s). But we’re a whole year away from the film’s release, so there’s plenty of time to push the marketing campaign.

Following Aquaman, the next DC film to shoot is New Line’s Shazam, which has been in the works for a while. Director David F. Sandberg is tackling the film, which is written by Darren Lemke and Henry Gayden. After looking at several actors (including John Cena?), Zachary Levi was cast as the original Captain Marvel. The rest of the cast so far includes Asher Angel, Grace Fulton, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ian Chen, and Jovan Armand. Production will begin in February for an April 2019 release.

However, one character who won’t be appearing is Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam. Originally set to be the main villain, The Rock will instead headline his own movie. The plan is for the two characters to be established in their own movies, before crossing over in a sequel. Instead, Shazam will feature Dr. Sivana, with Mark Strong in talks to play him. However, there is talk of Black Adam debut in another DC sequel…

There are still plans for a Suicide Squad sequel. The first movie won an Academy Award for Best Makeup & Hairstyling, the first DCEU movie to do so. For the sequel, Warner Bros. considered several directors, including Mel Gibson, to take over from David Ayer. Adam Cozad was recruited to write a draft earlier this year. Eventually, Gavin O’Connor was hired to direct and rewrite. The plan is to shoot next year, but due to Will Smith’s schedule, it probably won’t get started until October. Plot details are under wraps, but rumor has it that Black Adam could make his debut here.

Meanwhile, spinoffs are also still in the works. There hasn’t really been any new news on Gotham City Sirens, other than conflicting reports on the film’s status. However, David Ayer hopes to tell this story about three powerful women. Additionally, a Joker/Harley Quinn movie starring Margot Robbie and Jared Leto is in the works, while Robbie says a separate Harley Quinn project is also in development. Leto will also reportedly reprise his role in Suicide Squad 2 and Gotham City Sirens.

Next, we have big developments on DC’s biggest hero. Despite plans to film this year, Ben Affleck dropped out of directing The Batman. After a search for a new director, Matt Reeves was hired to do it. Reeves says that he’s crafting his own story, instead of using Affleck’s script. But, he wants to tell a personal, noir-driven story that showcases Batman’s detective skills. Also, the film is (for now) still set in the DC Extended Universe, but it’ll still be a standalone story focused on, well, Batman.

As for Affleck, well… it looks like he won’t star in this movie either. Rumors first came out this past summer that Warner Bros. was planning to recast. Affleck responded by saying he wanted to do the movie, but in more recent interviews, he sounded less optimistic about it. Most recently, it was reported that Reeves is indeed looking to recast the role for his movie. However, Batfleck may live on for one other movie…

The Flash movie lost a couple directors last year. At the beginning of this year, a new screenwriter was hired, and a slew of big directors were courted, with Robert Zemeckis said to be the top choice. At San Diego Comic-Con, WB confirmed that the film’s title is Flashpoint, and it will adapt one of the biggest DC stories ever. The movie will feature other Justice League members, such as Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and Batman.

Last we heard, Flashpoint is still a priority, following the positive reception to Ezra Miller’s performance in Justice League. A director is expected to be hired soon. Considering how the original comic reshaped the DC Universe, the film is speculated to be a reset of sorts for the films (including the Batman recast?). But, specific details are still unknown.

This year, we also got some updates on Green Lantern Corps. The script is being written by David S. Goyer and Justin Rhodes, with the film set to star Hal Jordan and John Stewart. We also got a reported actor shortlist for Hal, which included James Marsden and a bunch of A-list actors. Over the summer, it was rumored that Rupert Wyatt was hired to direct, but that has yet to be confirmed. And…that’s about it for this movie.
This year saw three new DC movies enter development. Following the success of The LEGO Batman Movie, director Chris McKay was hired to tackle Nightwing. The filmmaker says he’s taking his time to get this one right, which is why a release date hasn’t been announced yet, and he wants to make a “badass” action movie with tons of heart and emotion.
Next, Joss Whedon is writing and directing a Batgirl movie. The film is reportedly inspired by Gail Simone’s New 52 run. Whedon wants to explore Barbara Gordon’s backstory, and this movie (along with Nightwing) is part of a conscious decision to expand Batman’s supporting cast on film. At one point, Batgirl was going to be one of the next DC films to enter production, but then Wonder Woman 2 happened.
And finally, Gareth Evans is in talks to write and direct a Deathstroke movie starring Joe Manganiello. No plot details are known, but in the past, Evans expressed a reluctance to make a PG-13 comic book movie. Could Deathstroke be DC’s first R-rated movie? WB President Toby Emmerich certainly sounds open to making a movie with that rating.
One DC movie that has slowed down was Justice League Dark, which unites several supernatural characters. Director Doug Liman dropped out, citing both a scheduling conflict and lack of commitment to the script. Most recently, Gerard Johnstone was hired to rewrite the script.
Actor Joe Morton, who plays Dr. Silas Stone, said last summer that a Cyborg movie was still in the works, and he’s under contract for it. Star Ray Fisher hopes that if the film happens, it would be a more intimate and standalone story. However, no screenwriter or director is attached.
As for that Man of Steel sequel? Well, director Matthew Vaughn confirmed rumors that he was talking to the studio about it, citing an interest in telling a traditional Superman story. However, despite fan wishes and Henry Cavill’s interest, another Superman movie doesn’t seem to be a priority right now.
In addition to the in-continuity DC Films, Warner Bros. has other plans. The studio is in the process of building an Elseworlds-type banner, with out-of-continuity movies that offer unique portrayals of DC characters. First up is a Joker origin film, directed by Todd Phillips and possibly produced by Martin Scorsese. The “super dark and real” movie takes place in 1980s Gotham City, and it has been compared to Scorsese’s early work such as Taxi Driver. WB also wants Leonardo DiCaprio to star…but good luck with that. Geoff Johns says we’ll know more about this banner soon.
So, yeah, that’s pretty much it. Despite Justice League‘s underperformance, there has been a lot of movement in the future of DC on film. Hopefully, Warner Bros. will continue to exploit this brand for years to come.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of our annual reflection, which will focus on DC’s television work for the year.

Paul Romano

Editor-In-Chief at WOBAM! Entertainment
Founder and EIC of WOBAM! Entertainment. Christian. Student. Watcher of movies and TV, reader of comics, all that good stuff.
Founder and EIC of WOBAM! Entertainment. Christian. Student. Watcher of movies and TV, reader of comics, all that good stuff.