Warner Bros and DC Comics News Roundup: Justice League, New Characters, and Ezra Miller is the Flash! | Fanboys Anonymous
It was a whirlwind late last week, as Warner Bros. revealed their slate of upcoming releases based on DC Comics properties. WB is betting heavily on these properties, with several titles announced through the year 2020 and beyond. In addition, two new and key characters are rumored, and while Jason Momoa finally admitted that he's Aquaman, WB confirmed that Ezra Miller will portray the Flash in Justice League and, presumably, a series of stand-alone films.

justice league dc comics warner bros ed benes batman superman wonder woman flash aquaman

First, the slate. WB/DC announced close to a dozen superhero films to be released over the next 6 years, through 2020. In brief:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in 2016

Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer and courting Will Smith, Tom Hardy, and Margot Robbie for key roles, also coming in 2016

Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot in her first solo outing as the Amazon princess, in 2017

(Here's where things get interesting.)

Justice League Part One, directed by Zack Snyder, starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, and presumably Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, and Ezra Miller taking on or reprising their roles as Aquaman, Cyborg, and Flash respectively, in 2017

The Flash, starring Ezra Miller in his first solo movie and the first post-Justice League film in 2018

Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa in 2018

Shazam, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the villain/anti-hero Black Adam (Shazam himself has yet to be cast) in 2019

Justice League Part Two, directed again by Zack Snyder and presumably starring a solid percentage of the above, plus popular supporting characters from the solo films, in 2019

Cyborg, starring Ray Fisher, in 2020

…and finally Green Lantern, also in 2020.

Let it all sink in for a second. It's a lot.

dc comics identity crisis cover by michael turner and brad meltzer
We'll wait. Come back in a bit if you need. 
The most immediately striking news is that Justice League will be split into two parts, which we can assume to mean will cover one long story as opposed to two separate, if possibly interconnected, stories. Obviously this isn't the first time Warner Bros. has split their tentpole pictures over multiple films (looking at you, Harry Potter and The Hobbit), but that speaks to the scope of the film, I think. One hopes that WB wouldn't pull such an obvious cash-grab move without believing they have the story to justify it. What that might entail, I'll get into in a moment, but it's worth examining some other properties first.

Suicide Squad: director David Ayer, of Fury and Training Day fame, talks about this film as "The Dirty Dozen with superheroes." That's spot on, and I personally can't wait to see Ayer's (likely) violent and grimy version. Clearly the film has some power, attracting not only names like Ayer's but also Smith, Robbie, and Hardy, which would lend huge visibility to the project. The story is about a team of supervillains created to carry out blacker-than-black-ops missions for the US government in exchange for parole, a reduced sentence, or freedom.

Flash/Green Lantern: I wrote about a rumored WB/DC slate awhile ago, and many of the rumors about that have now turned out to be true. Even Suicide Squad was being considered as part of an effort to make middle-budget superhero movies, an idea that apparently gained traction. One surprise on that rumored list was the potential for a Flash/Green Lantern team-up film, an idea that hadn't been done yet: introducing two new heroes in one film, even though both would presumably have been seen in Justice League. Still, it was a new idea, one that apparently didn't gain as much traction as Suicide Squad. So while we now know who our Flash is—and he'll be a good one, I think—we're no closer to figuring out the big green elephant in the room.

GL is one of DC's highest-profile comic titles thanks to a 2004–2005 reboot by writer Geoff Johns, who went on to write the character for another top-selling 9 years. WB/DC was supposed to cash in on the popularity of the character, and maybe start building their own movie universe, with the ill-fated 2011 film that set WB/DC's films back a bit, forcing them to restart with 2013's Man of Steel. I would bet that executives are afraid of the character. Now, just because we won't have a solo Green Lantern movie until 2020 doesn't mean he won't appear as part of either Justice League. In fact, his appearance could even be a plot point, considering the cosmic nature of the major villains being considered for the League to fight and the cosmic nature of GL's work. One could follow the other to Earth. That said, we're still no closer to knowing who will wear the ring next, or indeed which Lantern of the several available will do the ring-slinging. But I find it hard to believe WB/DC will let the League gather without one of its founding members.

ryan reynolds green lantern warner bros dc comics bad movie
Just probably not this guy.
Cyborg: The announcement of this movie is meaningful for a few reasons. First, it means WB is basically looking to make stand-alone films for every member, and then some, of the Justice League. Even Marvel hasn't done that, relegating Black Widow to supporting roles in Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier instead of getting her own movie, they've basically ignored Hawkeye, and it'll be awhile before Hulk gets another film of his own. Right now, WB/DC has just about everyone covered, and even has time to let New Line make Shazam as a non-Justice-League-related side project.

Also worth noting, however, is that Cyborg has gotten a big push in recent years as a high-profile member of not just the Justice League but of the DC Universe in general. WB/DC clearly has faith in the character, which is great, because based on current production schedules Cyborg might become the first African-American superhero heading his own film from either Marvel or DC. While Marvel has Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, and Anthony Mackie in crucial roles as Nick Fury, James Rhodes/War Machine, and Sam Wilson/the Falcon, none of them have gotten their own films and, frankly, none seem likely to in the near future. (Sorry, Sam Jackson. It would, and still might, be awesome.)

There are three big names missing from this list, however. One was confirmed as a film in development: Sandman. However, it's understandable that it's missing from this list, as it won't be a core DCU film. Like Shazam, it'll be a production separate from the Justice League continuity, and maybe similarly made by New Line. Notice, though, that there are no confirmed release dates or even years for a new Superman or Batman movie.

Since they'll be the core characters of the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie as well as, probably, Justice League Parts One and Two, maybe WB/DC doesn't feel they need to promote these well-known heroes as much as others. It's just odd that they go totally unmentioned, for the same reason: they're two of the best-known heroes in the world, let alone those belonging to WB/DC. It could be the studio is going to base their plans for those heroes on the performance of Batman v Superman, which I suppose is understandable—if still odd.

Superman may have had his ups and downs on film, but Man of Steel still made three times its budget, which really can only be considered underperforming in this age of throwing crazy money at big-ticket films and bloated box office. I have to imagine that a Batman movie would do pretty well for itself, Batfleck or no. The other problem there, though, is WB's relationship with Ben Affleck, who has become a treasured filmmaker of theirs. They'll certainly want to keep him happy to keep him around, which will mean letting him make his own movies in between stints as the Caped Crusader. We'd heard before that a film called The Batman might be released in 2019, allowing for Affleck's schedule, and possibly even directed by Affleck himself.

It makes some sense that the busy filmmaker would appear as Batman only in core films (Batman v Superman, Justice League Parts One and Two) before getting his own. His Batman is supposed to be a veteran, effectively, having already fought his war against crime for many years before the events of Man of Steel, or at least Batman v Superman. There's no need for an origin film to set up his world and characters. We'll see part of it, to be sure, in Batman v Superman, but people know Batman by now. The Dark Knight Rises was released only 2 years ago, and Batman was again cemented, as he was during the initial Batmania that preceded and followed the original 1989 Batman film, as a pop-culture icon.

Tim Burton's 1989 Batman featuring michael keaton
Seriously. This was EVERYWHERE. 
I've already waxed too long, so brief rumors shall end this roundup. Previously, the megavillain Darkseid was rumored as the main antagonist for the Justice League. If you've Googled him and wonder why he looks kinda like Marvel's Thanos, their big bad, it's because Darkseid was created by Jack Kirby 3 years before Jim Starlin brought Thanos to Marvel. At first blush, sure, DC would obviously use their "original" villain to compete with Marvel's ultimate baddie. It also makes sense to play against that expectation of direct competition and find a more unique foe. It may be that's the case. Rumors say the the main villain in Justice League is Brainiac, a longtime Superman enemy and an alien android. Like most characters who have been around as long as him, he's gone through a few incarnations, but suffice it to say he's deadly, more than a match for the Justice League with his genius-level intellect and abilities to interface with and control machinery or computers. In our drone-filled, computer-saturated world, that makes him dangerous for sure.

Finally, a prediction I made in another article might in fact come to pass. As filming on Batman v Superman continues, actress Jena Malone supposedly has a small role, and it's thought that she's Robin. You read that correctly: Carrie Kelley, or some kind of female Robin, could be in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Whether this would be a plot point then folded into the solo Batman films, or whether Robin might be a part of Justice League, I couldn't say. I do think this makes some sense. People have been making fun of Robin for years, partially because of his questionable portrayal by Joel Schumacher and Chris O'Donnell in Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. (For the record, I maintain this is the filmmakers' fault, and not the character's.) Including Robin, a core component of Batman's universe, and including her as a female is a bold and quite possibly brilliant step, opening up a world of possibility for WB.

Whew. I'm exhausted. You know what do to, dear readers. Put the thoughts in your head into the comment boxes below and let's talk about superheroes.

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