With the dawn of a new DC universe, James Gunn and Peter Safran are planning new film, TV and game projects. But before we get there, we’re nine months away from the last gasp of the DCEU, which is coming to an end, almost poetically, a decade after it debuted Superman in 2013.
First out of the gate was David F. Sandberg Shazam! Wrath of the Godsthe sequel Shazam! (2019), which turned out to be a modest hit and was once again seen as a course-correcting step in the right direction for the DC franchise, number three to be exact, but who’s counting? Some critics even considered it the best movie in the DCEU to date. In theory, the sequel should be a big draw for the three other DC movies planned this year. Flash, Blue beetleand Aquaman and the Lost Empire. So why does it feel like the DCEU is limping toward a conclusion instead of culminating in a celebration of a decade of storytelling?
Early social media reactions Wrath of the Gods have been enthusiastic and positive, while the reviews have been relatively positive, if softer than the original. But box office projections point to a less enthusiastic opening. Certainly, aware of the numbers the film faced, Warner Bros. and New Line’s marketing for the film has become a desperate plea to “come see it,” with TV spots spoiling the film’s big cartoonishness that somehow always feels sadder than Black Adam star Dwayne Johnson reveals Henry Cavill’s Superman photo on the red carpet during press.
So what is it all about Wrath of the Gods that prevents it from being a lightning rod? Well, it depends on several factors. While the sequel has no shortage of talent, it brings Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler as antagonists. They play the daughters of Atlas – Hespera, Calypso and Anthea, characters that are not from the comics. This makes it somewhat difficult to market and point audiences to specific comic books that they can refer to and get excited about. Another problem is that Shazam’s most iconic antagonist, Black Adam, got a solo movie that flopped at the box office last year, and it thundered away any potential Shazam vs Black Adam matchups that audiences were hoping for after the movies. announced. But the biggest stone on the road Wrath of the Gods Is it that when a new DC cinematic universe is coming, what is the audience being asked to invest in?
Now, you could say that a film’s merits should be looked at individually, not based on what it sets up or the post-credits scenes that may never materialize in another film. In fact, I would say so myself. Watch the movie for the movie, not how well it works as a teaser trailer. But I think if we’re being realistic, people don’t watch these movies that way, at least not entirely. A Shazam movie with the guaranteed promise of a run-in with Black Adam or a Justice League-related character simply plays with audiences differently than a Shazam movie that teases the return of Sivana and the Monster Society of Evil in a movie that doesn’t deliver. likely to be completed. It shouldn’t be like that, but it is. Social media chatter has already returned to the same query surrounding these pre-reboot movies, “what’s the point?” The point is to see a good movie, but I don’t know if that’s a compelling enough argument for a franchise that, at least critically, though not for me personally, has had more hits than misses.
Although new DC Films co-head James Gunn has said that everything is on the table to continue in the DCU, and Shazam!, at least in the first film, there are no continuity-breaking references, it all just feels a bit muddied in explanation to an audience that has been told a reboot with a new Batman and Superman. Words like “soft reboot” with elements Suicide Squad and Peacemaker as a grandfather, can be tossed out, and that may be, but it means nothing to a general audience that has been raised on MCU films emphasizing a single continuity where “everything matters”, even if it’s a marketing ploy. But it’s a gimmick that people believe, and it’s something that Warner Bros. Discovery doesn’t have the relationship of the current crop of DC Films, which due to frequent leadership changes, the divisive nature of the films and the uncertainty of the cast. With these characters and the entire Batgirl movie being shelved, the current situation has taken on a “eh, we don’t really know if it still matters” attitude.
Gunn’s announcements on the subject Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters, the beginning of the DCU, were certainly exciting and generally made a lot of people more optimistic about DC’s future outside of the Batman movies than they have been in a long time. But it feels like the announcement will come at the expense of the films that are already slated for release and will be left out. I remember when I was 20th Century Fox released Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants After the Disney merger, and everyone was already waiting for the MCU’s rebooted version of the mutants. And sure, we can hope that the quality of the DCEU movies will surpass those movies this year, but if the marketing Wrath of the Godswho didn’t even play for a Super Bowl spot is an indication of what we can expect for the rest of 2023, then it looks like WBD is already counting its losses and really just hoping for Michael Keaton’s return as Batman. Flash to billion.
It’s unclear how these DCEU movies relate to Gunn and Peter Safran’s DCU, if at all, and a wait-and-see approach might make the most sense, but it also won’t sell tickets. Wrath of the Gods was originally supposed to appear after that Flash, and Sandberg recently attributed it to the film’s costume changes, which have now changed simply because of magic. It’s not a big problem. But when you think about it Flash originally intended to lead to certain changes that were seen Wrath of the Gods and Aquaman and The Lost Kingdomwhen the now axed thumbnails refer to these events, it feels as if the issues of the comic book event have been mixed up and pages have been removed.
Similarly, Flash, the next film to be released, is said to act as the conclusion of the DCEU and set up the DCU. And it would be good if it didn’t immediately follow Blue beetlewhich is to launch and new franchise and Aquaman a sequel that was supposed to be the second chapter of a trilogy. And by the way, Jason Momoa will likely be playing a different character in the DCU, but according to Peter Safran, he won’t be playing two different characters, contradicting Momoa’s statement that he will always be Aquaman. So we have the end of the cinematic universe and the birth of a new one at the same time and possibly using songs from the ending if it seems financially viable, which is too complicated a crisis even for comic fans.
It would be great to see these 2023 DC movies succeed both financially and critically and maybe Wrath of the Gods beating predictions and showing that audiences are still invested in these movies despite the reboot. But I think there needs to be some clarity on the position of these franchises in relation to the DCU. If the plan is to end them here, within the confines of the DCEU, I think the audience deserves final conclusions and a sensible transition like Flash is an actual finale and leads to a reboot, rather than the DCEU ending with an Aquaman sequel that spawns a third installment, which the studio doesn’t really plan to do. Whether you’re excited about the DCU or not, I think the actors and filmmakers who have contributed to a decade of stories set in the DCEU deserve at least some clarity and nobility in presenting this final chapter.