There seems to be a lot of shifting and juggling going on with the DCEU film slate as of late.
For starters, no new director has been announced for The Flash which puts a big dent in the likelihood that the film will hit its March 2018 release date. Then there's the fact that Aquaman got shifted from its projected release of July 27, 2018 to October 5, 2018. Meanwhile, fall of 2018 had been thought of as the landing spot for Ben Affleck's The Batman.
With the current way that 2018 is configured, there's a huge gap in DC's releases between March and October. DC has famously released many of its major films during the summer, with practically every modern Batman and Superman film- aside from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice- being released in June or July.
Which brings us back to reports from earlier this year, when Batman v Superman came out and was slapped around by fans and critics alike. At around that time, we started hearing murmurs that Warner Bros. was concerned about their DCEU slate, and were considering bumping Affleck's The Batman up and making it a priority since the rejuvenated character was one of the only universally-praised parts of that March tentpole.
Another wrinkle to consider as we piece together what's going on behind the scenes at WB/DC is that, as of a few weeks ago, there was chatter that Affleck and Geoff Johns' script for The Batman wasn't quite ready. Yet, are we to believe that the studio would allow the film to slip into 2019? That seems like a long shot, and a bad move for business, since Batman continues to be the hottest hand they have.
Joe Manganiello, who's set to play Deathstroke in The Batman, recently appeared on The Rich Eisen Show where he fielded a few questions about the upcoming DC movie. "I play the world’s deadliest assassin, who also has one eye," he said on the show. "We will start at some point this year, it looks like."
We already know that Aquaman's former release date of July 27 is not up-for-grabs, since Paramount has designated that slot for Mission: Impossible 6, and Warner Bros. wouldn't want to open a movie against a rival tentpole of that caliber. Almost exactly a month ago, I made the following case for how Aquaman could get moved up to June 1, 2018, and now I'll argue that we could put The Batman into the same scenario:
"A June 1 release would give Avengers: Infinity War (May 4) almost a full month to finish up its run, and put a month between [The Batman] and Ant-Man And The Wasp (July 6). It's closest competitor would be the following week's untitled Transformers: Bumblebee Spinoff (June 8). Considering Warner Bros. opened Superman Returns a week before Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest in June of 2006, the studio doesn't seem worried about that kind of contest."
With The Batman potentially filming this coming year, as Manganiello stated, a Summer 2018 release seems extremely possible- Especially considering that the film has been rumored to be a smaller, more intimate film. Affleck, known for directing gritty crime dramas, is rumored to have sought inspiration from Rocksteady's Arkham video games, which all tend to take place in a single, explosive night. I mention this because it sounds like The Batman will be a leaner, meaner Dark Knight movie (with no need for an origin or other filler) that won't require the amount of time and post-production that a sprawling epic like Dawn Of Justice needed.
When you consider all of the factors above, and the fact that WB/DC likely wants to get a Batman film released sooner rather than later, it's now starting to look like The Batman has gotten bumped up to Summer '18 and that's why Aquaman was moved down to October despite the fact that the James Wan film has had an incredibly smooth pre-production period.
Regardless of how this all shakes out, it's pretty clear that 2018 is going to be shaken up in the weeks and months to come. At this point, we have a movie (The Flash) that was supposed to start filming next month but currently has no official director, we have another film (The Batman) that's going to start filming in 2017 but doesn't have a release date, and we have Aquaman which will come out on October 5 of 2018.
How do you think the 2018 DCEU slate is going to shake out when all is said and done?